One of my favorite movies is Boiler Room, which follows a college dropout (Giovanni Ribisi) and his rise and fall with a less than reputable investment firm. One of the standout lines from the movie  is “ABC – Always Be Closing.” It’s one of those lines that has humorous appeal because of the cheesiness of Boiler Room’s bad boy characters (Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck).  And I must admit we occasionally use it around our sales office in a ‘tongue -in-cheek’ manner.

‘Always be closing’ is one of those mantras leftover from the 80’s and 90’s that had its time and place in a different economy, but certainly has no place in today’s business arena. While we’re all looking for ways to generate additional sales, customers expect and demand so much more from a salesperson, and really from a company as a whole, than a constant sales pitch.

Making the sale, and more importantly retaining the customer, means focusing less on ‘ABC’ and more on AEE – Always Exceeding Expectations. Customers have come to expect cheesy sales pitches and de-personalized email campaigns, but they demand more and we should be rising to the challenge. I recently sent out a mass email communication to our customers thanking them for their business and letting them know about some of our new services and works in progress. I had a number of customers reply to the email with questions or comments, and I think many were genuinely surprised when I promptly replied back. It’s a sad commentary that we’ve become so dehumanized in business that customers are truly shocked to receive a personal reply from a real human being, but it’s also a great way to differentiate yourself within your industry. When a customer contacts you, make sure responding to them is at the top of your list rather than the middle or bottom.

Make exceeding expectations a daily goal in all aspects of your business. Reach beyond the bar your customers have set in terms of customer service, product features, product function, etc. Exceeding expectations in both big and small ways will surprise your customers, and I’m betting it will also surprise you with the impact is has on your business and reputation.