ODIN Consulting

Why ‘ABC’ is an Outdated Approach to Selling

High pressure salesperson

ABC is outdated!

Always Be Closing (ABC) is a motivational phrase sales guru’s and managers alike, use to describe to a particular strategy of sales. It involves being persistent and in the mindset of closing deals using whatever tactics necessary to do so. ABC is less of a sales technique but a mindset. However it mainly results in heavy handed sales, and as we’ll see, it doesn’t get the job done.  Mainly popularized in 1992, ‘ABC’ has become a frequently used phrase by managers to motivate and instill a tenacious attitude in their staff and towards sales prospects. However, studies suggest that as a sales technique, it very rarely achieves its goals. Moreover, it is increasingly losing its effectiveness. Now most successful salespeople dedicate just 35% of their time to actually “closing” deals.   

Narrowing of the information gap

One of the central issues making ‘ABC’ as an outdated concept, is its reliance on a wide information gap between buyers and sellers. In the past, the buyer did not have access to the information required to make a fully informed decision. therefore, the buyer placed more reliance on what the seller told them.  Nowadays, customers have universal access to the internet. Customers are much more wary of products and the people selling them. Customers do their own research from an independent source before committing to a sale. They are also well aware of the fact that in every industry, there are lots of competitors out there, besides the product or service being sold to them. Almost without exception buyers look to competitors, and they engage with them. The Customer of the 2010+ are making extremely informed decisions. They can not be pushed or bullied into a sale by a salesperson with the “ABC” mentality. In fact, a salesman with this approach is facing more resistance or is completely blowing the sale if he doesn’t respect the buyers research and decision making process. This means that many salespeople are now forced to spend less time “closing” and more time focusing on the needs of the client. Sales is a much more complicated job and good sales teams put stress on
  • Devising strategy.
  • Prospecting.
  • Generating leads.
  • Following up with clients
  • Having meaningful conversations.
  • Building meaningful relationships.
These efforts, along with administrative tasks lead to more time creating opportunities and less time closing. Hence the aforementioned 35%. 

‘Bullying’ approach

Another reason ‘ABC’ is outdated as a sales strategy is that it is now widely considered to be a ‘bullying’ approach. This is an approach in which the customer is pushed into making a purchase. Some sales teams are verbally battering potential customers, and cause immediate buyers remorse. While this tactic may sound like something that only happens at hat stalls, for some companies it is the status quo. From outright forcefulness to more subtle and sophisticated bullying where salespeople ask heavily leading questions.  People are recognizing when a salesperson is simply attempting to increase their sales, rather than focusing on the needs of the client. Anything that indicates a sense of urgency – “Deal ends today! Buy now” or “Closing sale! Get stocks while they last” – or including an offer of an added product to what is being sold. It can come across as seeming desperate and cheap to any potential customer at best, and manipulative and dishonest at worst. It will almost certainly put intelligent buyers off.

The Root

Sales teams each have a distinct culture, and it’s almost always bad. Sales managers often have the most amount of pressure in a company, and have the least amount of control of the outcome. A nasty mix, when that pressure and frustration passes down to a sales team. Most of them create an atmosphere of competition and rivalry in an attempt to motivate their sales team. This is just bad for business. If we want to get to the root, we need to be honest and admit, most senior salespeople should not be sales managers. Better to hire a data scientist. That might sound like an absurd proposition, but in order to attain operational excellence in sales, sales itself needs to be looked at more like marketing. Data driven and analytics oriented. We now have the technology to attain perfection in sales scripts based on data.

Conclusion

Once, sales managers were almost universally insisting that the aggressive, money-driven salesperson could get what they wanted through bullying tactics and high-pressure selling techniques.  While that may have been the case in the past, times have changed considerably, and thanks to developments in technology, customers are now far more unresponsive to such an outdated strategy. Without the ability to have all the information on hand, alongside the bullying approach, it will mostly come across as negative to all parties involved and could go to hinder your working business relationships. Just don’t do it.