The Sales Cabinet concept is a sophisticated process for analyzing, planning,
directing and monitoring the activity of a sales team.
It is an essential tool for setting sales policies and the management, at
whatever level of a sales team, if not every sales call produces an order and
there is a time lag between the first contact with a potential customer and
that company placing an order.
Sales Cabinet is also a valuable tool for marketing and business development
The Dimensions of Sales Cabinet
Sales Cabinet is a four drawer filing cabinet and each drawer represents not
only a stage in the buying cycle, but also the critical tasks a sales team should
be performing if they are operating in a “balanced” mode. The aim is to
elevate as many of the inhabitants of the bottom drawer up to the top
drawer as possible, whilst continually finding replacements for them.
The Buying Drawers
We have two buying drawers, the top two. In the very top one, we keep our
long term stable partners. We might well have preferred supplier agreements
with them or a clearly defined and established purchasing history.
In the second drawer, we place the less well established clients, the
occasional buyers or the one-off buyers.
A great deal of purposeful, strategic, objective-based selling can and should
be done within these two drawers. In the precarious second drawer of the
cabinet, every piece of business has to be fought for and often secured
through sacrificing margin. Whereas in the secure environment of the top
drawer, the inhabitants respect the added value we bring to the relationship
and seek stability and value for money, rather than lowest price. However,
developing and promoting Drawer Two occupants has obvious benefits to
the growth and profitability prospects of the Company.
The Working Drawer
In Drawer Three, we keep our prospects, potential customers who we have
visited and qualified, but have yet to win the first order. Though this is a crucial
part of the development of an ideal customer base, sales work in the Working
Drawer is, in general terms, the least cost effective – unless rigorous
qualification processes are followed.
Its importance and its costs make it, therefore, yet another important focus for
the Sales Manager.
What can we do to heighten our success with a major sales opportunity?
When are we best to back off? How can we capture big opportunities more
The Marketing Drawer
Drawer Four is where we keep our suspects – those potential opportunities
identified, but not yet visited or qualified. As with most things in life, the more
work that is put into the preparation phase of the sales process, the less effort
will be wasted in the long-term.
The selection of the right opportunities from the market place can ensure
better sales, better profits and can reduce the cost of the sales work.
Selection criteria have to be established and graduated by experienced
sales personnel. Once in operation and proven, their continued use can be
maintained by other members of the organisation who will develop, to a
much higher level, the specific skills needed.
Banks of qualified prospects can be built up if appropriate – ready for a
concerted attack on a targeted part of the market place.
When I first designed Sales Cabinet, I realized just how important it is that
balance be maintained between the four drawers (where market conditions
permit). Excess top drawer activity will constrain the growth of the business
into those areas that are identified as the opportunities of the future. It is also
a symptom that the organisation has got itself into a rut or a ‘comfort zone’,
that the communication of policy is poor, that management is not controlling
the work, or that people lack the confidence to tackle new areas (or a
combination of all of them).
Too much emphasis on the bottom two drawers is inefficient and will
dramatically reduce the potential for growth, will increase the cost of sales
unnecessarily and could well lower the reputation of the Company.