The Modern Sales Closer’s Sales Mantra
I was reading an article on the HubSpot Sales Blog this week titled It’s Time to Move From ‘Always Be Closing’ to This New Sales Mantra by HubSpot Sales Director Dan Tyre.
At MentorsOnline.Com, we are big fans of the HubSpot CRM Platform and because of our constant pursuit of learning, we also enjoy their Sales and Marketing Blogs.
Regardless of our fan status, an article with a headline like this was always going to get my attention if I saw it in my inbox.
When I took a look, there were a number of points that had my head nodding in agreement but there was also a lot of advice that had me both scratching and shaking my head.
So much so, it prompted me to write this article to give you an alternative perspective, a rival Sales Mantra and as always, challenge you to think of ways to improve your sales process, systems, and strategy as you strive for real business growth and scale in 2022 and beyond.
Let’s take a look at the common themes in Dan Tyre’s thought-provoking article:
The Sales Mantra: ‘Always be Closing’ is Outdated
As many of my clients could tell you, I am also a huge fan of the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. The mantra in the movie “Always Be Closing” embodies the GGR belief that there is no such thing as a bad lead, just bad closers. You can sell almost anything to anyone if you are a great salesperson.
I 100% agree with HubSpot that the team at GGR would be considered dinosaurs for more reasons than one in the modern era of sales. In our client-centric business world, a ruthless agenda to close every single sale or a singular focus on the $$$$’s with zero thought of the client using high-pressure tactics would rapidly send us out of business leaving only a legacy of scathing reviews demanding refunds.
Like so many things from the 80s the world has moved on and away from the sales mantra “Always be Closing”.
Whilst the ruthless high-pressure tactics and the ‘Always Be Closing’ mantra of the 80s may have gone out of fashion this doesn’t mean sales professionals should take their eye off the prize or stop trying to continuously improve their closing ratios.
Focusing on closing and improving your closing rate by 5% or 10% makes a huge difference to a business’s revenue potential, for many Small, Medium Enterprises, it can be the difference between 10’s of thousands to 100’s of thousands of additional dollars of revenue every year, which of course will be reflected in the bonuses and commissions of the sales professionals that improve their closing performance.
The why (closing more sales) hasn’t changed, it’s the how.
HubSpot’s suggested the ‘Always be Helping’ Sales Mantra
HubSpot suggests that ‘Always be Closing’ should be replaced with ‘Always be Helping’, as this will put the client at the centre of the buying/selling experience because seller focussed sales don’t work anymore and the balance of power has shifted away from the sales rep towards the buyer.
Cue the head shaking and scratching – not because I don’t like being helpful or because I disagree about building your selling process around your ideal client. At MentorsOnline.Com we are very Client Centric. I 100% agree with putting your client in the centre of your sales experience but I have to say there is nothing more frustrating than a helpful salesperson.
A helpful salesperson spends their time with a prospective client with the aim to help which can lead them to relinquish control of the sales experience to the buyer and distracts them from their true objective which should be to discover the problem and pain so they can determine if they are in a position to solve it with their product or service.
Remember, a prospect is either following your sales process, or you are following the prospect’s buying process. There is no middle road. You can’t be a little bit pregnant, you either are or you aren’t.
Think of a time when you were interested in purchasing a product / service but you landed a ‘helpful’ salesperson. It has happened to me a number of times. The result was that the helping sales rep failed to adjust the helping approach to sales to match my interest and delayed the sales process to a frustrating extent and in some cases lost them the sale. The majority of buyers want someone to help direct them to make the best decision as effectively and efficiently as possible.
A less salesy example of this is my mate Glenn. When you go out for a meal with Glenn and he can’t decide between two dishes he will always ask the server what they would recommend. Nothing frustrates Glenn more than the response “well it depends what you like.” He is frustrated because he had asked for an opinion at least and a recommendation at best, instead the “helping” server opted to provide neither and just slowed down the decision making process. If they hadn’t tried the dishes it would make Glenn happier to receive this information rather than the non-response he received. As it highlights there might be a better option to choose. The server probably thinking they were doing the right thing were suggesting it was dependent on his tastes but instead if they had dug a little bit deeper and said, “do you like food a little bit spicy then I would suggest option A” which is helpful, customer-centric and tries to uncover a problem/need to warrant the recommendation or solution.
The biggest problem I have with the sales mantra ‘Always be Helping’ is that the word helping can be misunderstood by salespeople as something that will not help either the salesperson or the prospective client to get the result they each are looking for and want to achieve.
So here is my alternate sale mantra for the modern sales closer for you to consider:
A Rival Sales Mantra
‘Always be Qualifying’
If you are always looking to qualify a prospective client you automatically put them in the centre of the sales experience and it pushes a salesperson to find the fit for your company, product, services and solution.
In my opinion, this mantra takes ‘Always be Helping’ the step further than it needs to go to make the buying experience more meaningful for all parties involved.
When you are always qualifying these strategies should become a logical part of your sales process:
- Unearth Problems: Does the prospective client have a problem/pain that your product/service can solve?
Yes – Qualify No – Disqualify
- Build and Demonstrate Value: Once you have qualified the prospective client by determining they have a problem you can solve. A professional salesperson will determine if that problem/pain is big enough to warrant the cost of your product/service then actively demonstrate the return on their investment is 2x, 5x, 10x, 100x etc. Does the prospective client really see the value of your solution in solving their problem?
Yes – Qualify No – Disqualify
- Are They Ready to Buy: If you have asked the right questions to unearth the problems, built and demonstrated value you will be able to determine whether the prospective client is ready to buy. They realise they have a problem/pain/frustration, you can solve it but how committed are they?
Yes – Qualify No – Disqualify
- Engage Decision Makers: Is the prospective client a decision maker / the only decision maker? Can we get all the decision makers in a meeting? Now, this isn’t always possible but we need to be realistic if we are not in front of all the decision makers our sales cycle or steps will increase until we do and we will lose some of the power in each step. So consider if you should put the process on hold until you can get everyone together.
Yes – Qualify No – Disqualify (for now)
- Make the Process Easier: “The Prospect is either following your sales process or you are following their buying process”. Realistically most people’s buying process is full of errors as they don’t always know what they want, what’s available or what the alternatives are. That’s where the sales professional comes in, they are the expert, the specialist when it comes to what they are selling. And that is why the sales professional should be in control of the process by asking specific and tailored questions to uncover problems/pains. Digging deeper where needed. They are controlling the experience, but the prospective client should be doing most of the talking because a real sales professional knows to disqualify or qualify someone. You need to learn about them and tailor the selling/buying process to the client. Done correctly and in the right sequence you:
‘Always be Helping’ seems a lot nicer than ‘Always be Qualifying’ but it’s far from it.
A thoughtful and well-designed sales process, framework, script and presentation customised to suit your ideal client never has to be a forceful process. When done well, it is appreciated by the prospective client regardless of whether they are qualified or disqualified.
The point of qualifying is to determine if you can, in fact, help a prospective client with a specific problem or outcome. Focusing on qualifying rather than helping means you can be more strategic and get them to the result/outcome with less effort and time wasted.
Disqualifying someone early doesn’t actually mean it’s a bad thing, if they are not the right fit they don’t need to waste time and can continue looking for the right solution somewhere else. If they are the right fit but the time or level of commitment isn’t right, you don’t have to go through your entire sales pitch step yet wasting time, energy, money and resources. Instead, you can disqualify them for now and send them the right information they need, keep in touch and continue the sales presentation when they have moved further along the decision-making process and are ready to buy (this is where a good lead nurture strategy can help).
A professional and dedicated approach to qualifying a prospective client is appreciated by the buyer because it provides clarity, helps them make the right decision, and saves everyone time and money.
Don’t Forget the Empathy
A successful modern sales closer will always take an empathetic approach to sales and client relationships. Every salesperson needs empathy to establish trust and confidence before they can or should attempt to close the sale. The sales mantra ‘Always be Qualifying’ works best when done with empathy.
Empathy in sales is SO imperative in our modern client centric buying environment. I have developed EBS-T (the Empathy Based Selling Technique) and insist that all MO Closers are fully certified in this technique. The key fundamentals of EBS-T are:
- Develop a sales mindset that is a super converter because it is the right thing to do for your business because we are all in business to make money.
- Always be curious. On the lookout for the best possible outcomes for the client.
- Your job is to be professional and always help people in the best possible way.
- Always put your prospective client at the centre of your sales framework by ensuring there is a connection before a conversion.
- Be successful and be successful for a long time with a solid positive brand, image and reputation by forging relationships and making a difference.
A Word of Caution If You Focus on Educating When Selling
The last point Dan Tyre makes is to focus on educating your prospective clients through whatever stage of the buying process they are at. This is a great couple of paragraphs in his article with some great advice that aligns with what I have said about ‘always be disqualifying’ and empathy based sales but I strongly disagree with using the word educating for two reasons:
Over Educate = I can do it myself
When you educate prospective clients too much through the buying process they can often get the false impression that they can get the results they are looking for without you. Often they could do it but most will fail and the vast majority would never be able to do it as quickly, effectively and efficiently as you would provide – that’s why you’re in business.
It never makes me happy when a prospective client comes back to me 6, 12, or 18 months later when they have learnt the hard way the value of what we do. The thought of the lost opportunity cost is enough to fry the brain a little!
Also, keep in mind that too much information can lead to overwhelm and/or confusion which can create procrastination that can either stop or stall the decision to buy. If you’re coaching in the sales call, you are doing it wrong. All good reasons to be careful not to over educate during the sales process. Instead, focus on providing a clear roadmap to see the solution and real value of that solution relating to THEIR specific pains and problems. Doing this will move your prospective client away from thinking that they need to make a decision and towards a belief that they would be crazy not to buy.
A misbelief in the need for Education can slow down the sales process
When companies build a process around nurturing/educating their prospective clients it can create a misbelief in your sales team that prospective clients NEED to be educated before you can sell to them which can increase your sales cycle longer than it needs to be.
Nurture and education do have their place in your sales system but always be mindful that it is used to facilitate the buying and selling experience and it doesn’t actually hinder it.
I have seen it a thousand times, a salesperson will get off a long call with a prospective client, all smiles, happy that they have had such a long involved conversation, they built connection, built rapport and created such a great vibe but in the end, they never get that sale. They’re not too phased, they still get their salary and surely they will win the next one. But what does this do for the bottom line and profits of your business? Do you know how much unnecessarily extension of the sales cycle, and missed opportunities are costing your business? I mean…do you really know or do you think you know? What’s that number for your business?
Unfortunately, without ongoing management, training, mentoring and development it is unlikely your sales team will fix this on their own. The simple reason is that most employees just don’t think like entrepreneurs, they are after all employees. This loss of revenue through missed opportunities is often never seen in most companies. Often this is the single most important reason owners and directors do most if not all of the selling.
And the unseen things are what cause a business to go bankrupt, fail to break through glass ceilings and ultimately stop them from growing and scaling.
So often the problems, challenges and frustrations in business arise for Business Owners from the things they don’t know, that they don’t know.
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