Build a Better Business: It’s as easy as ABC!

by Andy Bounds on March 11, 2014 · 0 comments

Chapter Directors OreientationComedian Bob Monkhouse used to say the secret to a good presentation was ABC and XYZ: Always Be Confident and eXamine Your Zipper!

To be honest, that is just about the best advice there is.

But, the initials ABC can also be used to signify something else critical to our success: the three steps of winning a sale…

Build a better business

I had the privilege of speaking at BNI’s recent ‘Build A Better Business’ conference tour.  My topic was how to turn referrals into sales.  In other words, when you get a referral from BNI, it opens the door to a meeting with your dream target; but how do you close off the sale once you’re there?  During my keynotes, I shared the three steps of doing so – my ABC:

  • AFTERs
  • Build certainty
  • Choices

Taking each in turn…

Step #1 – AFTERs

Customers don’t want what you do.  They want what they’re left with AFTER you’ve done it.  So, companies don’t want a marketing agency; they want new sales leads. They don’t want an IT company; they want efficiencies and time savings. And nobody wants me or my advice; but they do want more sales.

So don’t sell yourself by talking about what you do.  Instead, ask them where they want to be AFTERwards:

  • What are you looking to achieve following our work together?
  • What’s your end game?
  • What are your goals here?

And, when asking these questions, let them speak.  Don’t interrupt.  Remember, when asking questions, you should always WAIT to speak – this stands for ‘Why Am I Talking?’

Step #2 – Build certainty

Once you know their desired future (their AFTERs), prove you can get them there.  For example, if you’re a banker looking to convince someone whose AFTERs are to double the size of their business, you could use some/all of:

  • Case studies showing you’ve helped businesses double in size before
  • Testimonials about the growth you’ve caused
  • References with customers you’ve helped to grow
  • Examples showing how you’ll do it for this company – which products and services will help; the experts you’ll introduce them to etc.
  • Give free advice – a great way to show the value you will deliver

How many of these proofs should you use?  As few as possible, until they are convinced (this keeps it short and interesting for both of you).  So, use your best proof first.  If that’s enough, stop there.  If not, go to the second…

Step #3 – Choices

Offer a yes/no choice, and you can’t complain if someone says ‘no’.  So, asking children ‘do you want to go to bed at 7.30pm – yes or no?’ doesn’t work.

Instead, offering a yes/yes choice (‘tonight kids, do you want to go to bed at 7:15 or 7:30?’ is much more likely to be effective.  In effect, the question stops being ‘are you agreeing?’, and becomes ‘which are you agreeing too?’

So, after you have (Step #1) found their AFTERs and (Step #2) built certainty that you can deliver them, offer them 2-3 options as to how you will do so.  Each option should have a different price.  So, you might say something like ‘there are two ways we can help you here.  The full program will cover XXXX and costs £Y.  Or, we could do a smaller version xxx, which would only cost £y.  Which would you prefer?’

This changes the question from ‘do they buy’ to ‘which do they buy?’

How long does ABC take?

The beauty of this technique is that you can use it for any sale, and it takes as long as you want it to.  I have seen people use ABC in thirty minutes in Starbucks.  At the other end of the scale, I have helped companies win £multi-million deals and the three steps have taken a few weeks (with those deals, they tend to call Step #1 ‘scoping’, but it means the same thing).

The best two things about ABC

  1. It’s simple.
  2. It works.

It’s not as life-saving as Bob Monkhouse’s XYZ. But it will make you – and your customers – Build A Better Business.

Andy Bounds help companies sell more.  Winner of the title ‘Britain’s sales trainer of the year’ and  Liverpool’s business personality of the year, Andy has helped thousands of BNI members to transform their businesses.  Get his weekly emails containing sales/communication best practices at

Andy Bounds
Andy Bounds has helped his customers win over £8billion of new business. He was voted Britain’s Sales Trainer of the Year. His book The Jelly Effect (Capstone) is an international best-seller. To receive his weekly tips on improving sales and communication, visit

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