‘Circular’ sales

by WOHe

Match your sales plan against this page, and let your
imagination soar!

One of the reasons developing a business is so difficult is
because it’s based on closing sales. But often, because of the way
you view the process, you make things both difficult and painful
for yourself unnecessarily so.’

The good news is that you can take the pain out of selling through
good planning and management skills. Just as you painstakingly
design a kitchen plan in detail, to take the pain out of the
installation and customer acceptance, you can take the pain (and
fear) out of growing your business (through increased sales) by
using detailed planning.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this subject. Recently, I was
appointed to be a faculty member of the Independent Manufacturer’s
Representative Institute, to research and teach sales. A
determining reason for this was my working theory that selling is
“circular” rather than “lineal.” I believe this same theory can
help you to grow your business by learning to use the idea of
circular selling in your own business.

‘Circular’ sales’
The current principle of selling treats “a sale” as if it were a
lineal process. You have the introduction to the customer at one
end and either a closed or lost sale at the other, with four
selling steps in between. It’s a very clear cut win or lose
situation (see Figure 1).

If you hit sales right, you develop a new client. If you don’t
close, you lose and feel awful.’
I attend a lot of sales meetings where I regularly see a few
dealers and reps getting the “top salesperson” plaques, while a lot
more don’t get anything. It’s an interesting situation creating a
room full of people who feel disenfranchised at a sales reward
banquet! I must have missed this session at sales motivation
school.

The attention and reward is based on the current model (see Figure
1), which is designed to only recognize those who close sales,
immediately.’

But upon micro inspection, that’s not the way a sale is made at
all. In actuality, the sales process is circular in its
application. Once managers understand this, they can create, train
and conduct as much business as they desire. That is business
development at its best!

Consider this: The sales process is not made up of six steps (or
activities). Rather, it is made up of an unlimited number of steps
and activities. There is a beginning and an end, but both are
irrelevant. In a sense, once you go after a prospect, there is no
firm beginning or end. Thus, the term “circular.”‘
The process is seamless, and, like a wheel, you can run it forwards
and backwards. You can start it rolling from any point on the
circle. Once you have the basic construction, you can continue to
add and subtract components without damaging the process.

When you find out what works, you can add it in. When something
ceases to work, you take it out. All the while, you have a system
that supports what you’re doing.

If this all sounds like so much business school psycho-sales
babble, let me show it to you, designer to designer, on a floor
plan of sorts (see Figure 2).

To understand the circular selling method, you need to review the
following:

  • The Mission: Developing a sales plan whether for a walk-in
    client, a sales campaign or territory begins with the mission. You
    must create a vision or understanding of where you are
    now.’
  • The Strategies: Once you know the end result, you break it down
    into workable units. These are called strategies. What will you
    need to do that? Just as a kitchen plan needs predictable
    components to work (such as cabinets, counters, appliances, etc.),
    so does the sales plan need workable components. This is the time
    to determine what you need to make the mission come true, and how
    you will do it.’
  • The Tactics: These are simply plans, detailed plans, of how you
    are going to make the strategies happen. In kitchen design, a well
    made floor plan is the basis for generating specifications, an
    estimate sheet, a contract, work orders, product orders, dates on a
    calendar, commissions and return on investment. It makes the
    kitchen sales and installation process simple and
    manageable.
  • Written tactics, like the floor plan, are the bases of the
    sales process. They lay out how you will attract the customer to
    you and away from the competition. They give you a process and
    details of how to go through the six steps of the sale. Good sales
    tactics create good sales. No sales tactics guarantee nonproductive
    sales efforts.’
  • Before you step onto the showroom sales floor, or send a rep
    into his or her territory, make sure you have written tactics. They
    are the action steps, the processes, the systems and methods, the
    marching orders that keep the mission and vision out in front of
    you and/or your people.’
  • Implementation: This is how your roll out what you want to do
    (the mission, strategies and tactics), in person. Your plans are on
    stage, in public, alive and measurable. This is what you manage. It
    is the primary reason for a business plan’s and sales report’s very
    existence. Is the process your created working?
  • Evaluation: This is the visible part of sales management. What
    did we plan to do? What did we actually do? And, what was the
    outcome? Sales is, first and foremost, a numbers game did we
    increase our sale ratio or market share? Why/how did we do it? What
    worked and didn’t work? How do we train out personnel? What can we
    learn from them that we can add into future plans to improve our
    success rates?

    If you do this, you’ll build a business beyond your wildest dreams.
    In fact, I think this is the reason some companies rebound so well
    from disasters, like bankruptcy or the unforeseen death of a senior
    member they are forced to study what they were doing and what the
    results were. Then, they’re forced to focused on the day-to-day
    operations of their businesses, in detail. Maybe some pain is good
    for us.
  • Permanent Action: This is where you have done it all, and then
    make permanent what you will do in the future. Write your book, so
    to speak. Study everything. Take input from the rest of the circle
    and adjust, modify, change and/or quit.’

The great part of understanding circular selling is that you can go
forward or backwards from anywhere in the circle, and adjust. It’s
recognizing that selling is not just the traditional “first
customer contact to close.” Rather, it’s the total process of
recognizing everything it takes to make sales, and making it work
in harmony, time and time again.

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