Part four of our four-part series on Sales Myths that Just Need to Die takes on one of the most famous slogans in movie history and a sales mantra: Always be Closing. Check out part one in our series which dispels the myth surrounding the perfect sales personality type, Only Extroverts Need Apply, part two which tackles the mythical importance of friendships between buyers and sellers, Being Friends with a Buyer is Enough, and part three, The Decision Maker Makes THE Decision.

If you have been in sales management for any time at all, you have probably watched a colleague sip from an “Always Be Closing” mug, worked in an office decked out with an ABC’s of Sales poster, or unwrapped one of the more than 1,000 ABC’s of sales item for sale on Amazon.

An Always Be Closing mouse pad might be your aunt’s idea of the perfect Christmas gift, but the slogan is not only completely off the mark – it’s a dangerous mindset for your sales reps to be in.

The Origin of the ABCs of Sales Myth

The line, “Always Be Closing” comes from the greatest sales movie of all time, Glengarry Glen Ross. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s required watching for sales management; if only for an intensive in how not to manage a sales team.

Watch the scene in which the sales manager of a shady real estate company explains “always be closing” to his poor, verbally abused sales reps.

Imagine if you gave a sales coaching session like that… Nuts, right?

3 Reasons Not to Let the Ramblings of a Make-Believe Sales Manager be Your Mantra:

1 – Pushing People to Close Kills Deals

In the movie, the sales manager justifies Always Be Closing with other memorable lines like, “A guy don’t walk on the lot unless he’s ready to buy.” Studies show sellers with this mindset are a top pet peeve of buyers. 

Yes, it is your rep’s job to sell. A prospect may be on your company’s “lot”, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to buy. If a sale is too hard and too fast – it is a major turn off to prospects. 

Tip: Look at your sales incentives to ensure they aren’t unintentionally supporting this behavior. A customer doesn’t care if their rep is under pressure to make a quarterly goal. But they do care if the rep is pushing them to close before they are ready. A rep that has deals blowing up in the days before the quarter ends may need some sales development in the form of selling skills training and reinforcement.


2Being a Closer Is Less Effective Than Being a Helper

A.B.C. isn’t the only famous acronym from the movie. A.I.D.A is another, which breaks down as: 

  • Attention: ”Do I have your attention?”
  • Interest: “Are you interested? I know you are!”
  • Decision: “Have you made your decision?”
  • Action: “Buyers are waiting to give you their money, are you gonna take it?”

In other words: Demand their attention. Gain their interest. Push for a decision. Make the deal close. 

But, A.I.D.A. is not good business either. Buyers don’t respond well to people trying to “close them”, but studies have shown that they do appreciate – and buy from – sales reps who choose the role of helper. 

Buyers have access to a vast amount of information – much more than they did in the pre-internet days of Glengarry Glen Ross. They have researched your product, as well as those of their competitors, they have downloaded white papers, ebooks, and studies. What they don’t need is someone pushing them to close. 

What buyers need is a helper to sort all that information, point out potential hurdles, and navigate their internal approval process. They don’t need a “closer” to rush them into a buy that they (and their team of decision-makers and influencers) aren’t ready to make.

3 – Prescriptive Selling Is More Effective 

Another issue with following the ABC’s of Sales? All that push to sell and all that rush to close doesn’t allow time for the sales rep to truly understand what information the buyer is looking for to close the deal.

If your rep starts selling from the first ring of the bell, they are just selling the product as though it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Unless your team is tasked with selling muumuus, they need to be selling prescriptively to close sales.

Buyers also may be very well-versed in your product offerings by the time the buyer has their first meeting with one of your reps. After all, studies show they have done much of their product research without the assistance of your team (and will continue to do so until the day they do, or don’t sign on the dotted line). However, it does not mean that they understand if the product is the right choice. That’s where prescriptive selling comes in. 

After in-depth conversations with the buyer in which they are given the space to share what problem they are trying to solve, the issue with their current approach, and their wish-list of features, your rep can then present the product that is the best fit and the value proposition that fits the ask.  

So instead of Always Be Closing, advise your sales reps to:

Always Be Listening.

Always Be Helping.

Always Be Prescribing.

…and always be following up!

Does your sales team have an alternative to “Always Be Closing”? Let us know on Twitter @Selleration.