“Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers only.” As many of you know, this line is from an iconic scene in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross. In the movie, Alec Baldwin is training a ho-hum sales team and delivers an obnoxious rant with the infamous acronym “A B C – Always Be Closing.” His point is that sales reps should always be working towards the close, steamroll objections, and nothing matters but the bottom-line.
And while Baldwin’s scene is surely dramatized, one has to wonder if it holds an underlying truth. We think it does, and decided to give it a 2015 update for acquisition-focused advisors.
Always Be Credible
The reality is that nowadays, prospects are evaluating you before they meet you. Our 2015 Affluent Investor Study points out that the majority of investors discovered their advisor through word-of-mouth – they ask for the opinion of their friends and family. This credibility transfer is invaluable.
But in today’s wired world, credibility goes beyond simple word-of-mouth. After getting a recommendation from their friends and family, 95% of the affluent research the advisor online and 71% claim that it impacts their decision. Often times, this is their first impression of you. Your ability to heed Baldwin’s advice and “close” a prospect starts here. The first step is having a great reputation amongst your key relationships; the second is having a digital footprint that conveys your message in a way that oozes credibility.
Always Be Conversing
Oftentimes, we assume that “closing” a prospect is a charming request that occurs at the very end of the sales process. We imagine delivering a clever “closing technique” that seals the deal. In today’s age – it’s not that simple. Sure, a quick closing technique might work if you are selling Girl Scout Cookies (who can resist Thin Mints!). But it’s the entirely wrong approach for selling high-end intangibles to the affluent.
Get the “close” word out of your head. If you use sales terms like this around your team, coach or whomever – it bleeds into your interaction with prospects. This, in turn, will make you seem salesy and repel prospective clients from you.
Instead, think about consistently nudging the conversation forward from the very first interaction. You never push your prospect to “sign on the line which is dotted.” Your goal is to orchestrate a series of contacts so that you can truly get to know them. Once you fully uncover their needs, and build personal rapport, doing business with you is a no-brainer.
Always Be Checking
As you are building new personal affluent relationships, you should always be checking the status of the relationship. Have you built enough equity with your contact to have a business conversation?
Once you have broached the business conversation, instead of forcing a decision at the end of the process, focus on checking with your prospect consistently along the way to ensure you are both moving in the right direction. Here are some example questions you can weave into the business dialogue.
- Based on what we’ve discussed so far, are you comfortable with where we’re headed?
- Are we on the same page?
- Am I hearing you correctly?
- Is there anything I’ve covered that seems off-base?
You can’t deny the truth behind Baldwin’s acronym and the absolute importance of results. But results are predicated by the right activity. Don’t get so focused on the “close” that you forget about the process.
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com