Planning the Calling Cycle

Planning the Calling Cycle

Planning the Calling Cycle

Sales outlets on a territory, both existing and potential, may be grouped in accordance with their relative turnover value. For example, in Group A one could list all accounts, actual and potential, with an annual turnover value for one's product of �2,000, Group B would consist of accounts worth fl ,000 per annum, Group C �500 and Group D less than �500. It would then become possible to arrive at a call frequency for each group, taking account of their relative value.

In theory, nothing could appear to be more simple. The salesman divides his time equally between the four groups of accounts. In two weeks he has seen each of his Group A customers once. By the third week he is making a second visit to those he saw in Week 1. After the third week of his journey cycle he has also seen each of his Group B customers and thereafter he repeats the pattern. It takes him six weeks to visit all his Group C outlets and nine weeks to all upon all those small customers and potential customers in Group D. Thus from start to finish, a tour of all outlets in his territory, carried out in accordance with the call frequency prescribed, will take him nine weeks.

Unfortunately, as anyone with practical sales experience will know, it never works out like this! In the first place, customers are seldom conveniently located to facilitate such systematic coverage. Secondly-and this applies particularly to industrial selling-a salesman usually has to make appointments to see his more important customers. It is extremely fortuitous if the majority will be able to see him on the days when he has planned to be in their area. Thirdly, the needs of one's leading customers must be given priority. If an important buyer has a major complaint or wishes to see the salesman urgently to discuss new business, he cannot be kept waiting for two or three weeks, because the salesman is still completing his call cycle. There are times when common sense dictates that the system must be abandoned. These times can occur quite often and a journey cycle which, on paper, is nine weeks, can become twelve, fourteen or eighteen weeks in practical terms.

This does not mean that a systematic method of calling is useless: merely that the Sales Manager must accept the fact that circumstances are bound to frustrate his best-laid plans. He must bear this in mind when setting standards for his salesmen and also when he comes to assess their subsequent performance.

In arriving at assessments, the Sales Manager should try to base his judgement of his salesmen on specific and measurable factors. He should make no secret of what these factors are; indeed, there is considerable merit in issuing, on either a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, an assessment report. A copy should be sent to the salesman concerned, to enable him to see that he has been fairly judged. It will also bring home to him where his weakness lies and give him the opportunity to do something to overcome it for the future.

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