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The ABCs of Selling

At some point or another, you've probably heard of the ABCs of selling: Always Be Closing. The mantra was popularized by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross (warning: strong language).

It's not as simple as Baldwin's character would have you believe. In a complex sale, there are multiple decision makers, sales cycles extend for months on end, and relationships are crucial for winning sales and growing accounts.

To help you navigate the complex sale, we've put together our own ABCs of selling, with an important sales concept you should know assigned to each letter.

A – Aspirations and Afflictions

Uncover the full set of buyer needs by focusing on both the pain points and aspirations (what the buyer wants to achieve).

B – Buyer Personas

Understand the different buyer personas and match your selling approach to each individual buyer's preferences.

C – Connect, Convince, and Collaborate

Sell the way winners do by connecting with buyers and building relationships, convincing buyers of maximum ROI and minimum risk, and collaborating with them to develop new ideas and insights.

D – Dissatisfaction Layering

Take buyers on an emotional journey by moving back and forth between aspirations and afflictions while demonstrating why outdated thinking has failed in the past.

E – Executive Relationships

Build and foster executive relationships—they often lead to new business and referrals.

F – Forecast

Forecast your sales and check your pipeline regularly to make sure you stay on track.

G – Goals

Set challenging sales goals, build a plan to achieve them, and execute the plan.

H – HPI

Approach each new day with hustle, passion, and intensity to crush your sales goals.

I – Impact

Make a strong impact case for why buyers should buy, and buy from you.

J – Justification

People buy with their hearts and justify with their heads. You need to make a strong ROI case for buyers to justify the purchase.

K – Knowledge

To be successful in sales you must have strong knowledge of your buyers’ needs, the solutions you provide, your company’s value proposition and competitive positioning, and more. You need to become a fluent expert.

L – Loyalty

Focus on building customer loyalty and growing existing accounts—this represents a huge untapped opportunity that only the top sales organizations take advantage of.

M – Mistakes

You will make them along the way. Use the opportunity to learn from them and avoid them in the future.

N – New Reality

Paint a picture for the buyer of where they are now and where they want to be—their New Reality. And then prove you can help them achieve it.

O – Opportunity

Manage your opportunities and guide them through the sales process toward the close.

P – Prospecting

Continually work to keep the front of your pipeline full. Always be prospecting.

Q – Qualify

Qualify your opportunities and pursue your most important ones with the right amount of investment and rigor.

R – Rapport

Build rapport with buyers early in the sales process because ultimately, if the playing field is level, buyers buy from people they like.

S – Solutions

Craft the best solution that meet buyer needs and present them persuasively.

T – Trust

Take time to build trust with buyers and your odds of winning the sale will increase significantly.

U – Understanding

Demonstrate understanding of buyer needs and share how you’ve helped others overcome those needs.

V – Value

Value is at the center of everything you do. You must communicate and provide value through the sales process.

W – Win

Sales is about winning. Do what it takes to win the sale and for your most important opportunities, use the Win Lab.

X – X-factor

Even the best sellers have to deal with the unknown in every sale.

Y – Yourself

Be yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone you are not. Buyers will see through this.

Z – Zigzag

In complex B2B sales, no two sales look exactly alike. Be ready to zig and zag as you move buyers through the pipeline.


It's time to forget the old ABCs and take on the new—that is if you want to succeed with the complex sale.

Additional Reading
The #1 Way to Decrease Anxiety and Gain Leverage in Sales Negotiations

Alison Brooks and Maurice Schweitzer, two researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted an experiment to induce varying levels of anxiety among negotiators.

One group was subjected to the not-so-melodious screeching strings from Psycho. The other group was treated to calming Water Music by Handel. After listening for a while, the groups were sent off to conduct simulated negotiations.

How to Clear Your Pipeline of Dead Wood

It's an all too familiar story. A seller's pipeline looks full! Bursting. Exciting. It stays like that for 2 months, 5 months, 10 months… more keeps going in. Nothing comes out.

It looked great, but it wasn't great. Not even good. Too many sellers have lots of opportunities in their pipelines that shouldn't be there. Neither managers nor sellers want mirage pipelines with visions of promised lands that simply aren't there.

What Makes for Successful Strategic Account Management?

Why are some companies able to consistently grow their strategic accounts and maximize value while others struggle? This is a question that confounds many a sales leader.

Some think it is largely related to the strength of product and service offerings. The companies that grow their accounts the most must have superior offerings that keep customers coming back for more, right?

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