"IS ABL a sales innovation?"
I think it is. If you look at Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Solution (which by the way is a great book and should be digested by everyone, including sales people) he basically speaks of innovation as acquiring non-consumers of your product. By quickly identifying who would be interested in consuming, and just as quickly identifying who will not consume, the ABL technique exhibits an attitude of innovation.
To discuss Pete's observations:
1.) "What does ALWAYS BE LEAVING mean? Does it mean that if I, as a salesperson, recognize that I can't identify or solve a prospect's problem, I should be leaving? "
My answer - Yes absolutely. If you can't solve someones problem and that is your goal (which as good salespeople we should be doing ... diagnosing & solving vs. selling), then the quicker you discover that someone will never buy your solution the quicker you can move on to other discoveries.
In fact it goes further. ABL as a core principle essentially states that good sales people are constantly trying to disqualify potential customers since they consume a huge amount of time and will not benefit from the solution we represent (notice it is the fact they can't benefit, not the fact we can't sell that makes the difference).
The problem is that we've been taught to Always Be Closing, to never let go, to convert that sale. There is a 180 degree difference between never letting someone go and constantly pushing them away. And it is difficult as sales people to let a prospect go. It becomes an ego thing (I can close him), an insecurity thing (if I don't close him I can't close anyone), a starvation thing (I NEED this sale) ... it becomes anything but a "if I can't solve his problem he won't buy anyway" thing.
That is the mental attitude necessary. Sales people must realize, if they can't solve the client's problem (and this may require helping the client recognize they have a problem by diagnosing symptoms the client does not see yet), that person will NEVER buy (and if they do it was pure luck).
2.) With regards to this post, are you suggesting in your latest post, that I should solve a prospect’s problems even if the right solution is a solution other than one I can provide to them for a fee?
Yes, it may sound counter intuitive, but absolutely. Your solution needs to be the right solution for the right symptoms that the customer has. Just because you sell cardiac bypass surgery tools doesn't mean you should sell them to someone who only needs an Angioplasty (sorry for the graphic example, but it demonstrates the point).
Also, when you work from a consultative point of view the customer views you as an asset vs. a sales problem to get around. Stop acting like a sales person and more like a partner and you'll start to get treated like a partner (they will buy from you when it is a good fit, you'll be trusted and brought back for future discussions, you'll be able to protect pricing).
I'm not saying do free consulting, since you'll end up giving away a huge amount of free time. But not pushing a solution that doesn't fit the customer's problem is the main point of ABL. Two sides of the same coin.
If y0u can't help the customer today, then spend your time finding a customer you can help and move on. And allow this customer to find a doctor more appropriate to their condition.
Start thinking and acting more like a doctor / diagnostician and less like a sales person and your sales numbers will soar.
See you on the wire