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Utilizing concentric travel and selling methods as a musical instrument and pro audio road rep

As sales professionals, especially in today’s wired world, we have many tools at our disposal to improve efficiency. Some of them appeared to have promise, such as the so-called “paperless office.” For many, this concept never fully came to fruition, based on the stacks of documents on our desks and in file cabinets. As many participants in the musical instrument and pro audio business head off to the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim this week, the annual exercise of scheduling booth visits is another challenge in logistics, compounded by the addition of the ACC North Hall. My advice to anyone hitting the show floor is to get a good pair of comfortable shoes, or a quality set of insoles for your wingtips.

Effective travel methods to maximize sales “touches”

While home office time is important, the best sales still occur face-to-face. Therefore, it’s paramount to develop skills that maximize your travel efficiency. The more meaningful and positive “touches” you have with an account, the better chance you have of increasing business and improving relationships. When touring a geographic region, care must be taken to organize trips into trading areas and then mining revenue opportunities from all available sources before moving on. This method can be described as concentric selling and describes the most effective way to proceed, in my opinion. This especially applies to sales organizations that service multiple product lines, which are likely to be sold into different vertical markets.

For example, many years ago I covered this Mid-Atlantic Region with several trading areas to visit. Does it make any sense to crisscross from city to city as depicted below?

The route mapped out above could be described as a “star trip,” possibly the least appropriate way to plan. Some less accomplished sales reps move about this way, putting out fires and never realizing the revenue they’ve left on the table. Concentric travel involves carefully mapping out routes to arrive in a trading area, maximizing quality time with customers, and minimizing costly and ineffective excursions. Below is an example of how this might work in the same territory, and, of course, over time you’ll be refining your routines to further improve efficiency. Your performance metrics will more than likely go up, and your manager will thank you profusely for sharing methods that work with your coworkers.

Along the way, there are still distances to drive between markets. That’s where Bluetooth headsets and effective use of “windshield time” come in to play. Combine this with effective travel methods, and you’ll soon see your musical instrument and pro audio sales rise, and your customers’ satisfaction grow with you and your company. Maintaining a competitive edge in business involves continuous improvement, and sometimes this applies to what appears to be a basic function of being a traveling salesperson.

Happy trails, and good sales to you!

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