If you have been in sales for any length of time I am sure you will have heard of a book or a process called ‘The ABC of Selling’. The ABC is quite simple. It stands for Always Be Closing. Over the years it has become a well-known selling mantra. You may already know where it emanates from and if you don’t, by now I’m guessing you know what’s coming.
Yes that’s right it’s American.
So, given that most sales training materials and one of the most influential sales books ever comes from the States and, if we can agree that UK and European citizens don’t like to be sold to, it should be no surprise to learn that most people in the UK dislike salespeople as most of them have been trained in a manner that is inappropriate to our fundamental cultural requirements. In other words, no wonder we have such a bad reputation!
The British are different
British people (and in this I include most Europeans and anyone from Delhi to Cape Town via Kingston, Jamaica whose origins are culturally British), respond to salespeople along a line that starts at caution and proceeds through suspicion to outright hostility. We want things; of course we do, and most of us have had to sell at some point in our lives; Britain is among the greatest trading nations on earth. But as individuals we value our privacy, and unashamed ABC selling is invasive.
Always Be Closing assaults our finer sensibilities. We are the modest virgins of the sales world, who must be wooed with a consultative approach. Being talked at by someone who is overtly aiming for a sale turns us well and truly off. We want to feel that we are in control and that we are getting what we want. Not what the seller wants to sell to us.
I am British and I have chosen to make my living for past 30 years in sales. I know, as you know, that ABC does not work. What you do not know, although happily I do, is that there is another approach that does work. I’ve called it ABCD.
I learned by trial and error and some may say I learned the hard way. I disagree because I have loved every single moment of it. However, if you had asked me thirty years ago; Tony, here is a short cut through some of the trials and errors. Would you like it? I would probably take your hand of at the shoulder.
So, I decided to write this book to help professional salespeople like you and I to appreciate the subtle differences we have to make in our sales approach in order to succeed in the UK and European environment.
And the first lesson you have to learn is this: The role of a British salesperson is not to ‘sell’ in the American sense. If you want to sell to British customers (and most European customers that have somehow acquired the famous British reserve), you have to do something different.
You have to create demand! ABCD My ABCD stands for…………. . ‘Always Be Creating DEMAND. Call it Desire, if you like. I often do. In our job we are contacting, networking, following up, and our aim is never to concentrate on the close: our challenge is to create demand for what we offer.
Everything we say and do should ensure we increase the amount of desire the customer has to do business with us, so much so I believe we can safely say, “It is not our job to SELL, it is our job to make customers want to buy from us!” Call it facilitating the buying process if you like.
Once that’s done, closing is the easiest part of the job. In fact, if you create enough demand, you don’t ever need to close. The client or customer does not need to be “closed on”. Like an expertly created meal, when it is done, it is done. No further work required.
Tony Dimech has spent all of his professional life in sales; he worked for 20 years various in positions for two international manufacturing companies. In 1998 he started Appleton Associates Ltd one of the UK's leading sales training companies. Tony travels extensively throughout the world working with sales professionals to develop new ideas.