You’ve probably heard the phrase “always be closing,” popularized by the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross. Alec Baldwin’s brilliant cameo catapulted the phrase into sales infamy. If you’re in sales and you haven’t seen the flick, it’s a must-see, but be warned–it’s a pretty vulgar movie.

I’d like to expose the misinterpretation of the “always be closing” or ABC mindset that goes beyond the film and into the real world. Once your sales force shifts their perspective of “always be closing,” they can go from average reps to sales rock stars.

ABC is Not Limited to Asking for the Sale

Firstly, this methodology has nothing to do with arrogance, pressure, or hardcore closing tactics, nor does it mean repeatedly asking for the sale until you’re getting thrown out or hung up on.

Instead of shaking their hand the moment someone enters the room for a face-to-face meeting, would you try to close by handing them a contract and a pen? Of course not! That would be ridiculous, and yet I regularly hear salespeople launch into calls with, “Are you looking for insurance today?” Or “Are you the decision maker?” That’s the equivalent of a car salesperson saying, “If I have it in stock, will you take it today?”

You cannot get a prospect to commit before you’ve assessed their needs, proven your expertise, established trust, and built value. Of course, you should qualify the sale, but when and how you ask is critical to success. You never want the prospect on the defensive–that’s how you lose sales.

As a leader, founder or executive in your company, you don’t want this approach resulting in lower conversions, higher cost per acquisition, low retention, less referrals, or a poor reflection on your brand.

I’d like to share my interpretation of “always be closing.” It’s an approach that I’ve used to successfully train sales reps for over a decade, and I do that by focusing on this definition.

Closing is the Process of Making a Sale

Based on the above mentality, it’s not coincidental that a sales process includes several stages that intentionally move you towards the desired result: getting the prospect to “sign on the line which is dotted.”

Closing is not only asking for the sale; it’s the entire journey you take to get there. Therefore, in order to “always be closing,” you might want to look at my perspective and master the following five steps:

  1. Always be prospecting. As they say, you have to keep the pipeline full. This includes accurately targeting potential clients, implementing a win-back campaign, cross-selling and generating referrals, as well as leveraging social selling.
  2. Always be qualifying. I review hundreds of sales calls every year and we can all agree that it’s a waste of time to get knee-deep into a conversation, only to realize the prospect is not a prospective buyer. Again, rushing to qualify is not the answer, but a methodical, clever script design is.
  3. Always be building value. Consumers are more inclined to purchase when they perceive value. Without building value, you’re stuck selling on price, which means you can easily lose that customer to a lower price in the future.
  4. Always be handling objections. Anyone can read a presentation, but factoring in when the prospect throws a monkey wrench in your face is a next-level sales skill. Knowing how to tactfully handle and overcome objections is a must, but the most effective way to turn the why into a buy is also knowing how to address objections before they happen.
  5. Always be closing. Even though we’d love to imagine everyone saying, “I’ll take it!”, you still have to close the sale. Whether it’s using assumptive or permission-based closing phrases or other closing techniques, using trial closes throughout the call and a final closing statement will ensure success.

These five insights formulate the process of making a sale. Therefore, we can conclude that “always be closing” expresses that you should always be progressing towards gaining a customer.

The ABCS of Leadership

As a leader it’s your responsibility to empower your sales force to achieve peak performance, but how? Let’s apply the ABC mindset to the following four areas.

  1. Always be coaching. Xerox discovered that up to 87% of the knowledge gained from sales training is lost or never utilized. Ongoing coaching and reinforcement allow you to onboard rookies at a more profitable rate.
  2. Always be recruiting. A precise, effective, systematic approach to hiring, training and onboarding is essential to exponential growth and prevents employee turnover. The revolving door of sales costs you time and money and damages your brand’s reputation.
  3. Always support culture. Without a culture of accountability, team leaders are left to their own devices. Are they flourishing in their roles and getting the most out of every sales rep? They need clear objectives, a clear track, and the knowledge to lead others to fulfill those objectives.
  4. Always be embracing technology. Technology enhances the sales process and makes it easier than ever to sell. Screen sharing has now become Zoom meetings, plus texting, social media, chatbots, video marketing, lead magnets and of course, Balto’s real-time call guidance.

I’ll close with this. According to Caliper Corp, 55% of the people making their living in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful. So, how do your reps measure up? Do they deserve the infamous Glengarry leads? If not, “put that coffee down” and get to work, because their success is your success.

About The Author

If all the world’s a stage, Rob Liano is front and center. A best-selling author, rockstar sales trainer, and dynamic speaker, Rob is a highly-respected sales strategist, consistently sought out for his groundbreaking telesales innovation.