ABC – Always Be Closing

Daniel Pink

I published a post a few months ago about sales. Even though this is a marketing blog, I realize that selling is part of my everyday life and in my job as a marketer. Pitching an idea I want my boss/a client to buy into through to selling myself in an interview (for a job or to a prospective mate) I am selling.

I was driving a few weeks ago and heard an author on CBC radio (public radio in Canada) being interviewed about sales. The author – Daniel Pink – was there to promote his latest book To Sell Is Human. Pink is also the author of Drive – a book I enjoyed last year about what motivates us. His premise this time is that we are all essentially in sales in what he calls non sales selling. Daniel suggests that we regularly “persuade, influence, cajole and convince” at work and or at home. I am waiting for this book to arrive but wanted to share a few really interesting points from the broadcast.

Buyer Beware…No SELLER Beware

Information asymmetry no longer exists. We know this as marketers thanks to the explosion of social media. Information is not hidden or hard to find. In today’s age buyers have significant access to information and lots of options to purchase, so the seller is the person on notice. It’s no longer buyer beware according to Pink but seller beware.


A B C – Always Be Closing

Sales has changed from the days of WKRP’s Herb Tarlek or Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross (if you want some fun, have a peak at the excerpt below from the movie. No wonder the latest rendition is a roaring success on Broadway right now).

Sales has changed so much that Pink has a new take on the famous ‘ABC’ acronym for ‘Always be Closing’:

A: Atunment (sp?)- You must learn how to take someone else’s perspective (so you can understand what they truly need from you)

B: Buoyancy – There is a tremendous amount of rejection in sales and to survive, you have to find ways to deal with it

C: Clarity – Instead of being a problem solver for clients, be a problem finder. Find a way out from a murky situation or make your client aware of something important they did not see and you will be golden  

I have taken some sales training over the past few years as a marketer with business development in my responsibilities and I really like the point about problem finding. Asking good questions and helping a client see an opportunity to do something better is a sure winner to build more trust and sell more of whatever you have to offer.  

Extroverts Make Better Salespeople … Right?

Daniel points to some about to be published research by Adam Grant (a superstar management professor from Wharton) that shows the correlation between extroversion and sales performance is close to zero(!). Along the introvert-extrovert scale of 1-7 (1 being an introvert and 7 being an extrovert), the best sales performers are in the middle – the 3s, 4’s and 5’s called ambiverts. A die-hard introvert won’t have the confidence to ask the right questions, make a personal connection or steer the conversation towards a sale. On the other end of the spectrum, an extrovert is no better. Have you been in front of a true extrovert? Could you get a word in? Did they even listen to you/understand what your problem is? No and that’s why they aren’t great salespeople either. Ambiverts are the best because they can calibrate their reaction. They know when to listen and when to talk.

The good news for all of us who fall between quiet wallflowers and the person who can walk into a room full of strangers and enjoy meeting everyone is that we are the natural born salespeople.

I Think I Can…I Think I Can…

Is taking a page from Oprah or Tony Robbins a good idea for salespeople? Instead of using affirmative, positive self talk (i.e. saying to yourself I am going to close this Sale, I am going to close this sale), Daniel says it’s better to ask yourself the question ‘Can I do this?’ Why? Because a question is a more active statement and you are more likely to put some thought into your meeting and how to best prepare for it (research the company; write a list of questions down; make sure you are meeting the right person; prepare for expected objections). Or decide it’s a lost cause and focus your efforts on better leads.

When you have a few moments (podcast is 20 minutes long), try the link below. Or you can pick up his book To Sell Is Human online at Amazon or Chapters.

Daniel Pink

CBC Podcast



Dr Adam Grant Pink


Sell Your Idea More Successfully

cold callHas this ever happened to you? I made a call last week to pitch someone an idea I had. Given I didn’t know him beforehand it was essentially a ‘cold call’. It’s been a few years since I had to make one and I bombed. After the call, I started to run through everything I did wrong in my head and what I would have done differently. Later that day I came across an iTunes sales podcast on cold calls – Jeb Blount’s sales blog SalesGuy: Quick and Dirty Tips.

But you don’t work in sales right? Wrong, we all sell something whether it’s a product to a prospect or an idea to someone we don’t know or ourselves to a hiring manager. And that means at some point in your life, you will have to make a cold call. So even if ‘sales’ isn’t in your title, being better at selling/talking to a stranger can you help you in all walks of life.

The Woman/Man On the Other End of the Phone … Is A Person Just Like You

He or she is a busy person who doesn’t want to be interrupted – just like you feel when you get a cold call. As soon as they realize you are a ‘salesperson’, their first instinct is to get off the phone as quickly as possible. What do you do expecting this? Talk as fast as you can to keep them on the phone just as they are trying to hang up.

What do people like to do on the phone? Have a conversation. A dialogue between 2 people talking about something of interest. So you should try to have a conversation. A prospect will be happy to talk about their interests. How do you engage a person on the phone this way? Jeb suggests you do this: Pick a short statement that should get their interest and ask a relevant question. Here is the example he gave:

 “Hi John this is David Thompson from I notice you are hiring salespeople. One of your competitors hires all their salespeople on and I thought this might be of interest to you. Can you tell me how many salespeople you are planning to hire this year?”

The tip I will add to Jeb’s advice is write down what you are going to say. It doesn’t need to be word for word, but you do need to have your main points on paper. Even practise it a few times before you make the call. One sales reps once told me that every sales call is like going on stage so be overly prepared. Write it down and practise it verbally before you make the call.  

Jeb says never ask how they are doing – it’s a stupid question. They are not doing well now that they realize you are trying to sell them something and they made the mistake of answering your call. Instead get right to the point. Here are 3 reasons why this method is better than what you are currently using:

  • It demonstrates you are a professional and that you have respect for the  prospect’s time
  • When you ask an easy but relevant question, the prospect has the opportunity to discuss something of interest to them
  • If there is an objection (too busy, no $), they will get to it quickly which will allow you to get to the objection quickly in order to ask some questions and determine if the objection is real or just a attempt to get off the phone

It’s always tough to meet strangers. The reality is more prospects will say no to you than yes – so be prepared for rejection. But they are also regular people just like you who want to be treated with respect. Not tricked. Not ice broken or manipulated. In the end if you can find a way to give them they respect, focus on what they want, then you may just find more of these calls going your way.

 And if you are in sales, check out Jeb’s podcast. He has all sorts of great tips and a sales course you can find on his website – look for the Salesgravy magazine signup.