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Why Closing Is Never a Problem in Account Based Selling

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account based sellingSales symptoms are prospecting traps.

You’d be surprised how often I hear, “My account based selling team can’t close.”

Closing is never the problem. “Never” is a bold statement, but savvy sales leaders will nod their heads in agreement. Closing is the easy part of account based sales development. It’s prospecting that’s hard.

Then why do so many account based sales reps overlook critical sales activities that occur earlier in the sales process? Trying to teach reps how to close without addressing the broken links in your lead generation system will not yield sustainable B2B sales leads. It’s like trying to treat an injured back with pain medication. Unless you address the actual cause, not just the symptom, that nagging pain won’t go away.

Remember Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross? That’s how the phrase “ABC”—always be closing—became a sales mantra. I dislike that phrase. It’s pushy, salesy, and disrespectful to our clients. It’s also way off the mark. If sales pros are always focused on closing, they’re not building pipelines. They’re not building relationships and nurturing their networks. And they’re not asking for referrals.

Diagnose Your Account Based Sales Development Problem

If your account based sales pros can’t seem to close, carefully analyze how they address all the steps in the buying process. Ask these questions to determine the real problem:

  • What was the lead generation system? Did the leads come from your website, SDRs, your marketing team, a webinar you conducted, trade shows, or referrals from trusted colleagues?
  • What were the specific criteria for qualifying these leads?
  • How did the account execs determine if prospects were actually interested? (Many inbound “leads” aren’t leads at all. These people might just be curious, interested in learning, or shopping around. Seller beware!)
  • Did your account based sales reps ask discovery questions to identify prospects’ real problems and recommend relevant solutions? Or did they just give a sales pitch?
  • Did they talk about the features of your product, or did they demonstrate business impact for the client?
  • What was their system for following up?

Many sales leaders discover that the “closing problem” started much earlier than closing. Perhaps the initial contact meeting wasn’t with a decision-maker, the salesperson wasn’t asking enough probing discovery questions, and/or the meeting follow-up consisted of a series of impersonal emails.

This is not how account based sales reps wow prospects, build relationships with them, convert them into clients, and then land and expand throughout their companies.

Smart Questions Deliver Big Results

Salespeople aren’t the only ones who confuse symptoms with problems. Buyers do that too. They think they know what’s causing their business woes. They think they know what they need from us. But sometimes they’re wrong.

When your account based selling team asks insightful and challenging questions, they uncover the real issues and urgent problems that need to be addressed for their clients. As a result, your solution will be on-target, and you’ll deliver demonstrable business impact. You’ll be poised for additional business—both from your satisfied customers as well as their referrals.

Don’t even think about training your team how to close. Save your money. Instead, give them an account based sales development process that ensures all your B2B sales leads are qualified.

Referrals: The Competitive Advantage for Account Based Sales Teams

When account based sales reps prospect through referrals, they bypass most of the hurdles that keep salespeople from closing. Prospects already know they are trustworthy and that they get results. Buyers actually want to talk to your team, not your competition.

A disciplined referral system ensures sales reps receive referral introductions at the right level. They get every meeting in one call, because all their B2B sales leads are qualified. They get in early—often before prospects even know they have a need. They develop strong, mutual relationships that no competitor can shatter.

And here’s the kicker: They convert more than 50 percent of prospects into clients. Most salespeople say it’s more than 70 percent. No more dialing for dollars. No more ABC. If we must use acronyms, then let’s use ABA: always be asking for referrals.

Bottom line: If your account based selling team “can’t close,” it’s a symptom (not the cause) of the problem. Selling is never about closing.


To learn more about how your team can close bigger deals with fewer qualified prospects, check out the #1 Referral Selling Program for Account Based Sellers.

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Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook

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