What does 'Always Be Closing - ABC' mean

Always Be Closing (ABC) is a motivational phrase used to describe a sales strategy in which a salesperson should constantly look for new prospects, pitch products or services to those prospects, and complete the sale. Always Be Closing, as a strategy, requires the salesperson to be persistent but also know when to cut losses and move on to another prospect.

BREAKING DOWN 'Always Be Closing - ABC'

Sales managers often use pithy quotations to motivate their sales staff and drive home the importance of being tenacious with prospects. In the case of Always Be Closing, the phrase serves as a reminder that every action a salesperson takes with a prospect should be done with the intention of moving the sale toward the close. From the initial rapport-building stage of the sales process, to uncovering customer needs, to product positioning, to responding to objections and finally to asking for the sale, the representative should be "closing" the entire time, setting the customer up to where the only logical thing to do when the process is complete is pull out his checkbook.

Always Be Closing in Popular Culture

The phrase was popularized in the 1992 film "Glengarry Glen Ross." In the film, an aggressive representative from the corporate office is brought in to motivate a group of real estate agents to sell more property or be fired if they fail. He delivers a profanity-laced tirade in which he excoriates the salespeople for being timid and unmotivated, and flaunts his own wealth and success. During his speech, he flips over a blackboard on which Always Be Closing is written, and then repeats the phrase several times. The speech backfires, however, as rather than improving their closing skills, the salespeople resort to a host of unethical tactics to achieve their sales numbers.

In the 2000 film "Boiler Room," a sales trainer mentoring a young stockbroker asks if the trainee has seen "Glengarry Glen Ross," and then proceeds to quiz him on the meaning of Always Be Closing.

Effectiveness of Always Be Closing

Research suggests the Always Be Closing mentality may be losing effectiveness. The average 21st century customer comes armed with significantly more information than a customer in 1992, when "Glengarry Glen Ross" premiered in theaters. Modern customers prefer to shop around and research on their own, and are much less susceptible to slick sales pitches. A 2015 study by CSO Insights indicates successful salespeople spend at most 35% of their time actually selling, or "closing." Lead generation, follow up, strategy sessions and administrative tasks comprise the lion's share of their time.

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