Gary has been feeling ostracized by his friends. Over the past few weeks, they’ve been making excuses every time he called, trying to make a plan to hang out.
One day he runs into his neighbor Robert, who says that he was surprised that Gary wasn’t with his friends at the club last night.
He calls one of the gang – Keith – right away, saying, “You lied about your cat being sick last night and went out with the whole gang – why didn’t you invite me? Why’d you lie?”
Keith hesitated but eventually relented. Turns out everyone has indeed been avoiding Gary. Apparently, he started becoming really pushy, and they felt like he was ignoring their boundaries.
Pushy behavior tends to drive people away. Friends, family, and even your potential customers.
Now, if you turn the pushy dial all the way up, what you get is a sales rep using the ABC sales strategy. But here’s the thing: You can nag prospects into a purchase a few times, but sooner or later, they’ll start avoiding you.
That’s the worst thing about being pushy. People – or in a sales rep’s case, prospects – will start avoiding you without telling you something like, “Okay, I’m not going to take your calls anymore because you’re awfully pushy and don’t take no for an answer.” They’ll just ignore you.
What is ABC Selling? Why avoid it, and what to do instead?
ABC selling was made famous by Alec Baldwin in his 1992’s film “Glengarry Glen Ross” where he said that salespeople should “ABC” — Always Be Closing.
ABC doesn’t have any pointers or anything. It’s just a motivational mantra that calls for sales professionals to be constantly on their toes, generating leads at record speed, and engaging in aggressive follow-ups – the goal is to close deals at any cost, even if it means dragging potential customers down the sales funnel kicking and screaming. This sales strategy asks the salesperson to be insistent (pronounced annoying).
Always be closing became a popular selling technique across industries in the 80s and although it doesn’t really work today, it's still in use. Now there is no harm in being motivated and passionate about selling. But there’s a fine line between selling with passion and selling with aggression.
Here’s why the ABC sales strategy doesn't work:
One, if a sales rep goes over the same old sales pitch over and over again without listening to the prospect’s concerns, the pitch starts to feel irrelevant.
Two, the ABC sales strategy makes a potential customer feel like a profit margin rather than a human being. Putting your prospects in that place is no good because they’ll treat you the same. They’ll toss you in the trash for someone who can provide the same product or service for a few dollars less. Or alternatively, they’ll have no qualms about ignoring your calls going ahead.
So what should you do instead?
Well, sales strategies that focus on your prospect’s needs and goals will help you boost your sales quotas and improve your win rate. Always be showing value is likely to serve you better as a motivational mantra than Always Be Closing.
Here’s a little secret: You can inwardly tell yourself that you need to Always Be Closing. You can motivate yourself to close deals no matter what. But you’d better come across as considerate if you want your potential customer to hear you out. And you better work your sales pitches such that they sound relevant instead of annoying and pushy.
In this blog we have handpicked sales strategies and strategic moves that you can use, all based on the concept of value-based selling. The idea of these strategies is to structure your sales pitch around how your SaaS product can help potential customers overcome business obstacles or achieve business goals.
5 strategies that are better than ABC
- SPIN Selling
This strategy’s name is an acronym for the talking points that you need to go over with your prospect, namely the prospect’s situation and problem, the implications of the problem and the need payoff (which is your solution).
For example, let's assume you sell subscriptions to a platform that helps real estate agents dealing find renters or buyers for high-end homes.
- "How does your current lead generation process work?"
- "Do you find that you have trouble finding leads willing to pay the right price for luxury residences?"
- "If you are unable to find at least a small number of renter/ buyer clients with the budget for high-end homes, how does that affect your business/ revenue/ reputation/ relationships with your home-owner clients?"
- "If you were able to get leads who are genuinely interested in high-end homes in your area of operation, how would that help your business/ revenue/ reputation/ relationships with your home-owner clients?"
- Challenger selling
This sales strategy takes grit, intelligence, and the time and patience to understand your prospect’s business better than they do. Here’s how you play the challenger strategy. The first step is to research your prospect’s business and understand its challenges.
Next, you come up with a new way of doing things – that includes your product but isn’t limited to it, and you’ll pitch this idea to your prospect. You challenge their current way of doing things, and that’s where this strategy gets its name.
Of course, challenging your prospect’s way of doing things isn’t going to be easy, and you need to get your facts right (and be able to show proof of value in many cases) to make this strategy work for you.
Challenger selling is very easy if you were once in your prospect's shoes. For example, if you studied accounting or interned at an accounting firm a few years ago (and managed to get a thorough understanding of the business), you have the necessary hands-on knowledge to challenge the status quo at a prospect’s accounting firm.
Like a lot of its counterparts on this list, MEDDIC is an acronym. It stands for metrics, economic buyer, decision criteria, decision process, identify pain, and champion and each of these hints at a question or talking point for you and your prospect to discuss.
- Under metrics, you’ll try and gauge a measured economic impact of the prospect’s challenges (or goals).
- Economic buyer refers to finding out who is the final buying decision-maker/budget controller.
- You also try to find out the evaluation criteria (decision criteria) and the process (decision process, including the decision-making authority) that go into picking a vendor. Be sure to get specifics here.
- Identify pain? Wait, didn’t you cover that under metrics? Well, here you get the finer details of the problem so that you can word your pitch around them.
- Champion refers to anyone at your prospect’s company (or within your prospect’s network) who might be able to say good things about your product. For instance, if someone at the prospect’s office has used your SaaS product previously, they represent a walking, talking customer testimonial.
This sales strategy overlaps with a lot of other sales strategies in how it focuses on the prospect’s needs as a means to depict a product’s value. It is different, however, because it advocates creating a sense of urgency around the sale.
NEAT stands for the prospect’s needs, the economic impact of meeting/ not meeting these, convincing the person with authority to approve the purchase and timelines. The fourth pillar of this sales strategy, which is timelines, refers to the positives of purchasing within a set time or the negative consequences of not buying within your timeline.
A limited-period offer (or first x number of subscribers offer) is a good example of positive consequences related to buying by a set timeline.
This final acronym-based sales strategy on our list works as follows:
- Keep your pitch simple. You might also want to keep it short. Prospects are already busy and stressed, avoid complicated or overly long pitch presentations.
- Be i(n)valuable by playing partner instead of seller. Act like a consultant. Find out what their problems are and try to figure out how your product can help solve these problems.
- Always align your product with your prospect’s needs, challenges, and goals. For example, you don’t sell accounting software, you sell a means to improve cash flow and plug supply chain leaks.
- Raise priorities, which means finding out which of your prospect’s needs are high priority and then positioning your product as the solution. So you not only align with their needs but align with top priority needs.
4 effective strategic moves that are better than ABC
1. Use background research to craft a more relevant pitch
Have you noticed how the sales narrative has changed to be more data-driven? SaaS businesses identify potential customers based on their search history, social media engagement, dispositions, likes and dislikes. This is a great way to go because it helps the salesperson to identify the leaks in their day-to-day life, which your products can help. You can also get some insights into your prospect by looking at their LinkedIn profile.
2. Ask questions to develop a personalized value proposition argument
Asking questions will help the sales rep know the customer and open up about their perspective and needs. This activity should be performed prior to even talking about the product (it will help you create a more relevant pitch). Encourage your prospect to share their story. Use that story to create a tailor your sales pitch. Always personalize your pitch.
3. Use technology to get deeper insights
AI-enabled conversation intelligence can help you to handle objections better with in-call prompts on how to respond to objections and when to mention a feature as a solution to a pain point. If you’re a seasoned ABC seller, you might be habituated to monologues on sales calls (during which it is quite possible that your prospect is tuning out). Conversation intelligence gives you monologue alerts so that you keep the prospect engaged.
Conversation intelligence also tells you how your sales pipeline is doing and alerts sales leaders to at-risk deals so that they can dive in if you are struggling.
You can also use conversation intelligence to learn from peers who have a knack for making prospects feel heard while also leading them (charmingly, tactfully and subtly) to a positive purchase decision. Simply listen to recordings of their sales conversations and take notes.
4. Meet in a friendly setting, face-to-face
Face-to-face meetings could help establish a friendlier, and therefore more open, relationship between the sales rep and the prospect. A salesperson could hold a meeting at a coffee place or over a round of golf and make their sales pitch more casually and organically.
Make your sales fairytale come true with Wingman
Even after saying goodbye to Always Be Closing, the story is not yet finished. Implementing a sales strategy takes patience. Moreover, even though you take the lead, effective sales aren’t all on the sales manager. You need great supporting characters. Here’s one character in your sales story you can bank on - Wingman.
Wingman is a conversation intelligence platform that helps you forge one winning chapter after the other in your sales story. It helps you build effective sales pitches, handle objections, and include customers’ viewpoints in your sales strategy.
Wingman fuels your sales strategy with data on competitor mentions, pricing, customer pains, customer goals, and more. This data is extracted from your sales calls. As a result, it’s authentic, and your sales team can rely on Wingman’s analysis.
Wingman also enables effective sales with live, contextual in-call prompts on what to say in response to a sales objection or competitor mention. It highlights when you have an opening to promote a feature as a solution to a pain point cited by the potential customer.
Moreover, to help your sales reps in their sales pitches, Wingman participates with you in your sales meetings. It tells you when to stop talking and listen actively with the help of talk-to-listen metrics. This ensures that your reps are not following the footsteps of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Other metrics around call success and call volume help with fully informed sales forecasting and pipeline management.
Wingman is a hassle-free tool that can be easily integrated with your CRM , Zoom, and Slack so that you don’t miss information from any customer interaction platform.
Want to know more? Book a demo today!