Selling the Wheel

If you’ve done any sales training you know that a lot of it sounds the same: ABC – always be closing. Pick up the phone and make cold calls. Aggressively qualify leads. They all spout a lot of the same things, as if sales was this one monolithic thing. As if in all businesses, all industries, if you just follow the formula you’ll close deals. What if that isn’t true? What if there are different ways of selling?

Sales is something that I have struggled with, so I have been trying to learn as much as I can about it recently. Malcom recommended this book, “Selling the Wheel” to me. I had read so many sales books and they all seemed the same to me. Very transactional. Very much cookie cutter, just follow the recipe. But that recipe always seemed off to me.

Technologies and Products Evolve

This book (think of it more as a parable) follows the trajectory of Max who invents the wheel. At first it’s brand new technology. Nobody knew about it. But eventually word got around and people started adopting it. And they didn’t want to buy the wheel, they wanted to buy finished products. They wanted turnkey solutions. Eventually more companies got on the bandwagon and these turnkey solutions became products and eventually it got to the point where the wheel became a commodity.

Our Sales Style Must Match What We Are Selling.

Through each stage of this arc of the wheel, Max, because each stage requires a different selling style. The book is about Max’s journey of discovering this and all the problems he runs into along the way. If you have ever run your own business you’ll probably identify with many of them.

I think the lesson to take away from this, is that there isn’t any one way to do sales. It really depends on what you are selling and where it is at in its lifecycle. The way you find and approach customers and even what your customers are looking for is different in each stage of the lifecycle. If we take all of the sales advice and training and filter it through that idea, it explains why things that work very well in one particular sales situation don’t work as well in others.

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