The Cunning 4 Stage Sales Plan by Geoff Burch

The Title ‘Salesperson’ Has Almost Become an Insult

We now acquire job titles that never mention sales, names such as, Product Manager or any other title that avoiding having to ask our customers to buy anything.

This was brought into sharp focus for me when I was asked to accompany a young executive. This fellow had just been on a course titled ‘Relationship Selling’.  We stopped outside a skyscraper and I asked what it was that we were doing there.

He explained to me that this was their most important client and that his company had a wonderful relationship with them.  I innocently asked him what he was intending to sell.  He looked at me in horror and replied: “I don’t want to sell them anything!” I asked him why. He replied: “I don’t want to spoil the relationship”.  I then enquired why we were bothering to visit at all then. He said that he was “building bridges and forging links.”

Production – Sales = Scrap

The truth is that production minus sales equals scrap. We should develop the intention to sell, but not only that, the skills that are required to sell.  If the word ‘sell’ makes you feel uncomfortable let us just say that we need to move people from where they are now to a place where they give us considerably more business.

Whilst just a callow youth, I would tend to gravitate towards sales jobs because in my mind they were an easy option.  My performance was chaotic but instinctive, so I would tend to produce enough figures to stay at work.
Pause here for some festery old motivational sayings:

“He didn’t plan to fail, he failed to plan!”
“Don’t plan to work, work to plan!”

Neither of the above meant a thing to me. That was until I encountered a grizzled old sales manager who realised I was getting along by flying courtesy of the seat of my pants.  He gave me a scrap of paper and said, “Every time you leave a call, answer these questions or you’re fired!”  I had the plan now and would have to work it.

As I am a scatological mess, this little bit of paper changed everything for me and it may help you.  It had on it a few simple questions:

1. Did I Achieve My Chosen Goal for This Visit?

I know that the threat was that I would be fired if I didn’t answer the questions when I left the call.  If I hadn’t got a goal when I went in, however, I could hardly answer in the affirmative when I went out.  If you are going to visit someone on a mission of persuasion, then have a very clear idea exactly what it is that you want to achieve.  It doesn’t even matter if you don’t achieve what you set out to.  As long as you have set down what your objective is you can at least judge where you are in relation to it.

Schrödinger’s Cat

In quantum mechanics, there is a puzzle called Schrödinger’s Cat. It rambles on a bit about isotopes and half-life, but the fun bit is that you lock a cat in a box with a potentially lethal bit of nuclear doings.  Now, without opening the box, tell me, is the cat dead or alive?  See – you can’t be sure. So, the dotty professors, to fiddle their results and convince us that the planet grew from a cosmic stone or something, say that the cat is in a state which is both alive and dead. Or, neither alive or dead.

Grumpy looking cat sat in an open cardboard box
Schrödinger’s Cat

This is, of course, cobblers, but while we give a little chuckle we must face the fact that this is how we tend to live our lives.  That lottery ticket in your pocket is the winner until you see the results.  That scratch card has as good a chance as any until we scratch it.  Don’t look under rocks, don’t look under your teenager’s bed, don’t look at the timbers in the loft, and all will be well with the world.  That’s why ‘v. int’ is so comforting, because as long as we can keep that going we don’t have to hear a big fat ‘No’.  It’s time for a change.  Before you go in, choose and decide a clear goal. Then, ask clear questions about the progress you are making.

2. What Am I Learning About This Person, This Company, This Situation?

This is the next item on this checklist.  Even if you have been saddled with the office boy don’t write the visit off.  Just ask those valuable questions, for example, “So who is in charge of this project?”  “I notice an office is being redecorated.  Is someone getting a promotion?”  “What is your company planning to do in that new extension?”.

Those little nuggets can often be pure gold.  A few days later, Derek Pile receives a letter from you congratulating him on becoming a partner and offering him a celebratory lunch.

Something else that requires mentioning here – which is, whoever you meet, treat them with respect and deference.  That dozy kid may well be the managing partner’s son. The funny old chap on the bicycle you shout abuse at on the way in is the managing partner.  Always bear that in mind – everyone you meet is important.

3. Ask the Person You Are With, What Do They Know About Their World in General?

“I see the office block next door has been finally let.  Who is moving in there?”  “Who else in your field is involved in this process?”  In a professional environment, I tend to write everything down.  This may, or may not, seem obvious but it is actually very rare.  We somehow believe that reading and writing makes us look incompetent or inattentive when actually the reverse is true.

Hand holding clear lightbulb aloft against the backdrop of the sky
Ask the Person You Are With, What Do They Know About Their World in General?


I have a bit of an issue with people who smoke pipes.  When you address them, they start this tapping, scratching, lighting, and puffing thing which seems to orchestrate the conversation to their choice of timing.  That has the result of enraging me! I feel it is a sort of bullying but in a much more gentle and subtle way. Writing things down can give that same control without irritation. “They are doing what?  Wow!  Let me just make a note of that.  Can you spell that for me please?”  That note-taking alters the pace, shows genuine interest, and will be so useful later.

4. If You Got Every Outcome You Planned for, and If You Repeated That Meeting, What Would You Do to Improve Your Performance?

This is the final question you need to ask yourself.  There is always something and this means that you just get better and better at persuading.

‘Sales is a Skill’, Says Geoff Burch

So to wrap up, we should always intend to sell. To do that, we need to know how to sell correctly. Sales is not an instinct, it is a skill that needs to be taught and learned.

  1. Home
  2. Influencing Skills Tips
  3. The Cunning 4 Stage Sales Plan by Geoff Burch

Related Articles:

Influencing Skills

Sticky Learning ®

MBMs Sticky Learning ® Logo

The Ultimate Guide

Ultimate Guide

e learning Course

e Learning Course Image

Related Articles

The Blog

Learning Materials

The Shop

YouTube Playlist 

MBM YouTube Videos


MBM Infographics

Glossary of Terms

MBM banner for Effective Leadership terms

Coaching Cards

Coaching Cards

Training Courses

Training Courses

Contact Us or Book a 15 Minute Call

Book a call

Would you like to receive regular articles on learning and development? Improve your personal development?

You may also like:

Cartoon images of devil and angel

Halo and Horn Effect: What is it? Example? How to Overcome it?

I Guess You’re Here Because You’ve Heard About the ‘Halo and Horn Effect’ and You’d Like to Know More? I’ll…
Read Article
Mom and kids are shopping at the grocery store.

How to Improve Customer Service: Serve Your Mum

Googling ‘How to Improve Customer Service’ and There is No End of Top Tips, Training Courses, and Advice. In This…
Read Article
Spheres of Influence. Influencer Marketing.

Influencing Skills Model: How Do You Get Your Way?

Whilst Getting Our Own Way Can Sound Childish the Facts are That We All Would Like to Feel That in…
Read Article

Written By: