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The NEW A-B-Cs

I’ve never seen the 1992 movie Glengarry Glenn Ross, but I’ve watched that legendary clip where Alec Baldwin presents the classic initialism, “A-B-C: Always Be Closing.” (Warning: the clip has extreme curse words and slurs—watch at your own peril.) It seems like a completely undesirable behavior, both for the actor and the recipient. Who wants to have the singular goal of getting a signature on “the line which is dotted,” no matter what? And who wants to be on their guard around that predatory person?

In his book To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink posits that the “A-B-C” of today is “Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.” Those sound a whole lot more appealing than the words on Alec Baldwin’s chalkboard. I recommend that you read Pink‘s book to learn more, but for now, here’s a quick rundown of how to use the new sales initialism.

Attunement: find ways to become attuned to those around you. Ask easy questions open to interpretation (“Where are you from?”). Listen more than you talk. Find commonalities, but don’t lie.

Buoyancy: list yourself up. Practice Bob the Builder-style self-talk before difficult situations: “Can I do this? Yes, I can.” Don’t give yourself undue blame for a lost opportunity. Practice dealing with rejection to minimize fear.

Clarity: clarify motives. Contextualize and reframe problems. Give yourself a “jolt of the unfamiliar” to remind you of the things you take for granted. Use these insights when interacting with others.

I hope the vagueness of this “A-B-C” inspires you to read To Sell Is Human. It’s fairly short and really lays out why sales isn’t the intimidating zero-sum monster from Glengarry Glen Ross. More importantly, it explains why even employees in positions that aren’t involved in business development (like me) are still involved in sales. The audiobook read by the author is great if you can’t find the time to sit down and read a physical copy.


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