I am sitting at my desk working, as my boss passes the door. He pops his head in and says “ABC”, and as suddenly as he popped his head in, he is halfway down the hallway.
For a non-sales person “ABC” could mean anything, but for anyone within sales they probably know it from the legendary performance of Alec Baldwin in the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). A movie that follows the inner workings at a real estate office. Baldwin’s character Blake goes into a rant: “Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me you *expletive* *expletive*? A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING.” Although the rant might be seen as ruthless and outdated, the reality for any salesperson is that this is a part of our everyday work life. We can dislike it, we can try to ignore it, but it remains a fact; if you don`t close deals, you are not doing your job.
Check out the ABC rant from Glengarry Glen Ross here (Viewer discretion is advised)
What I wanted to look at closer in this post was the ABC toolkit. Although you might not know it, everyone in sales has one. Your ABC toolkit is your collection of applied techniques and rites you do before, during and after a sales meeting/presentation or call.
My ABC toolkit is based on a few simple important tools and principles: Always suit up and look your best, humility, assertiveness, domain knowledge, preparedness, curiosity and adaptivity. Your ABC toolkit might differ totally, or you might have subtracted or added to it, to fit your own process. The important thing is “always bring it”.
Let`s take a look at my kit:
Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother” coined the term for the masses: Suit Up. Although he has some deep character flaws, his advice on suiting up and looking sharp for your business meetings is great advice. Although individuality and character are important notions in most aspects of our life, first impressions last a lifetime. By presenting yourself well groomed and in neutral formal clothes, you present yourself as professional, and let your personality and sales pitch give the impressions rather than your personal taste in clothes.
For more advice on suiting up check out this article:Time to suit up
If you look at a dictionary, Humility is described like this:
Humility (hjʊˈmɪlɪti): the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance.
Although you are the one selling the product or service your company is offering, you are still selling a product. You need to represent the values of your company, and explain why your product is superior. Your persona is not key in terms of what the client chooses. Being able to focus on the important aspects of the sale, and tone down focus on yourself is key. Of course being personable is always a positive thing, but most people cannot rely on selling themselves when presenting a product/service to a new client unfamiliar with your company.
Assertiveness is key in the ABC toolkit, knowing when to speak and stand your ground, but also when to keep your mouth shut. You need to be able to be forceful and confident when presenting your product. You know your product and you know the market, you should not be afraid to say it. However, there is a fine line between assertiveness and arrogance. Be careful not to humiliate or offend anyone when being assertive, This is why humility and assertiveness go hand in hand.
If you aim at selling a solution/product or service to anyone, you need to know their pain. This is where domain knowledge comes in to play. This knowledge is not something that you find in a self-help book, although some sales fields have more information available than others, but this is something you learn by experience and your own research. Often times in IT and the software industry you are catering to a whole range of different verticals. All with different challenges and pains relating to their markets, the organization size and internal processes. By doing the market research, using your first-hand experience and by learning your own product in and out. You will be much better suited at catering to these different companies than using a universal approach for all.
Always be prepared for your meetings, presentations and tradeshows. It all comes down to being ready for the challenges you might face. Know your product, know your prospect and use the resources available to you get the latest information available. If you can`t answer the questions you get or you stumble in your presentation you might be making the rest of the sales cycle harder for yourself, because you might be seen as less competent or knowledgeable and therefore gain less trust from your leads or opportunities. Of course, stumbling or doing a mistake occasionally is human and to be expected, but learn from those experiences and try to avoid making the same mistake twice.
Get some great insight to sales preparation from this link: Just how important is preparation to sales?
Always Be Curious
There has been a lot of talk lately about Sales 2.0. The use of social media and other web tools to create interest and start dialogue. The age of cold calling and knocking on doors is ending. With Sales 2.0 “ABC” has gotten an additional meaning: “Always Be Curious”. Learn as much as you can, use social media and your resources to improve your preparedness. Ask your clients questions that create new openings and possibilities for yourself. Of course, the ability to listen to the counterpart in a sales meeting also allows you to gather a lot of insight into their pain.
For more info on the new ABC: The power of curiosity in sales
The final tool in my ABC toolkit is adaptivity. Being able to adapt to your different settings and surroundings is crucial. When you are working as a travelling salesperson or interacting in an international marketplace, you need to be able to understand and respect other people’s culture and customs. The same basic principle goes for companies, if you play by their rulebook, you have a much better chance at getting ahead with your sale. It all comes back to the old proverb “when in Rome, do as the romans do”. Keep in mind though; there is a fine line between adapting and impersonating.
Check out more on adaptability here: Do you have adaptability?
These are only a handful of important tools, but they can mean the difference in making or breaking a deal.
Of course having the right tool for making your proposals process easier doesn`t hurt either.
So perhaps next time the boss comes down the corridor shouting “ABC”, you can use it as a reminder to always bring your toolkit and continue to hone and improve it.
What is in your ABC toolkit? Please leave a comment and share.