The Circle of Life is known. The Circle of Seasons is known. The Circle of Beer may not be as well known (yes it’s real…google it.) And the Circle of Selling is probably the least known of all. But it is this specific circle that drives the best performing sales teams to exceptional levels of service and success. (Although some believe it is the Circle of Beer that works the best).
The Circle of Selling is simple, complete, learnable and teachable. It scales across small teams and large teams and it crosses all cultural and language barriers. It applies to simple sales, it applies to complex sales, and it applies just as easily to daily life. It deals with the before, the now, and the after, all equally. And it does not discriminate as it applies to all people, all roles, and all skills. Sounds darn near perfect. And to make it even more perfect, it’s just three words.
It has a starting point, PLAN; a middle point, DO; and a conclusion point, REVIEW. Now the magic is that these three words are all action words and that they all feed one another – when you get to the end, you are back at the beginning.
So let’s play with the words a bit.
Not too complex. Unless of course it is something that you seldom do, which is the reality in most sales professionals’ lives. Admit it! Planning takes time, takes effort, and it takes a methodology. Everything needs to be planned BEFORE it is executed. Every client engagement needs a plan, every territory coverage needs a plan, every effective sales call MUST have a plan. Not just most, but all, and not some, but everyone. That is only if you really choose to be effective. Your choice. I don’t care what method you use, but my preference is still the Challenger Sales Methodology. There are lots of good ones, just pick one, use it, and perfect it - and write it all down. Plans only work when you take the time to put them in print. Other than that they are just great dreams. To quote the great Yogi Bera, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.”
Another seemingly simple word. And it is the one that most sales people are naturally the most comfortable with. They wake up each morning with a TO DO list of calls to make, appointments to keep, and things to get done. Now the question arises: to what end? Why do we DO all this stuff? The correct answer of course is to execute the PLAN. Doing has tools, organizers, reminders, software, and hardware all in support of the all mighty DO. It is our challenge to make sure that the outcome is guided and not just a random result of another very busy day. We are all DO experts. We multitask to extremes now with a pure focus on just getting things done instead of getting the right things done. DO requires skills of understanding and diagnosis so that we clearly take the right actions and DO the things that have the most impact. DO and DO well. Make and meet commitments. Go beyond the simple DO and exceed everyone’s expectations. Be so GOOD that no one can ignore you!
Once planned, once done, its time to make sure that what happened is what was planned, which is actually seldom the case. The review must take the form of the post-mission analysis done by the US Air Force. And by that I mean Nameless, Rankless. A review must be done that is based on what went right and what went wrong and what it is that must be done next. It is not about assigning blame or pointing fingers. In fact the best REVIEW comes when everyone involved is inclined to self-acknowledge when things did not go as planned. Only when you are open to continuous improvement at the heart and soul of the process can true REVIEW take place. If it is done on any other premise it is just a shell game and will make no real difference.
This last phase feeds directly back into the start of the whole circle again as it is the starting point for forming the next part of the PLAN. And even when the outcome that has been targeted is achieved it is time to start over with the PLAN for the next outcome in the life of the relationship with the client.
The Circle of Selling is simple: Plan. Do. Review.