Keep your wheel rolling: what sales and marketing can learn from the Wheel of Life model

Sales Inbound marketing

by Margery Murphy on April 17, 2020

When we reflect on our sales and marketing work and assess areas of strength and areas for improvement, it’s hard to know where to start or what benchmarks to refer to. Often, we slip into stream-of-consciousness thinking where one idea leads to the next until we have little direction and even fewer action items as a result.

The Wheel of Life

So how can we drill down to the core issues so we can make beneficial changes?

The wheel of life concept, is often used in personal coaching settings, discussed by Zig Ziglar, Dave Ramsey, and many others. While it’s not commonly used as a business tool, it’s one way to add structure to reflection and find balance.

The basic model looks like a wagon wheel. Mark the center point of a circle, then draw the spokes out to the edges. Each spoke represents an area of life, typically: career, finances, spirituality, physical health, intellectual growth, family relationships, social life. Some models frame these broad categories as the roles a person carries out in life, such as employee, parent, friend, etc.

It’s pretty easy to see the analogy to a rolling wheel. As long as the spokes are about the same length, a wheel rolls easily. So as long as we’re putting effort into keeping the areas of our life in balance, we thrive and become well-rounded (pun intended!).

But if we neglect one or more spokes, we risk having a lopsided wheel, and it becomes much harder to roll through life efficiently. We might even get stuck.

Measure Your Spokes

By adapting the wheel of life to our sales and marketing work, we have a framework for finding areas that are out of balance, neglected, or simply inefficient. Use our suggested “spokes” below or come up with your own:


  1. Employees – This includes sales, marketing, and customer service, also known as your client-facing team, but also leadership and support staff and the organizational structure. Also consider if you have adequate staff with the required skills and knowledge.
  2. Budget and revenue – Look at your budget and operating expenses, revenue, and your ability to afford strategic outsourcing or technology projects. Is another spoke causing this one to falter?
  3. Customer relationships – This stretches from prospecting to retaining long-term customers and every point in between. Assess how well you share your message and build your brand, how reps nurture relationships and respond to changing customer needs and buying behaviors. A related factor is having a well-defined sales cycle (or not).
  4. Networking and your role in the business community – Consider your role within your local community and how you can partner with others while still distinguishing yourself in your industry. Think about your team’s knowledge of other marketing/sales resources available to them.
  5. Innovation and adaptability – This includes how responsive you are to the changing market and your customers’ pain points. Are you willing and able to adapt to market forces or open to new ways of doing business? This may take the form of aligning sales and marketing teams, optimizing your CRM, or just finding new ways to look at perennial challenges.
  6. Operations – Operations is about how you do what you do: workflows, processes, and procedures. Consider how comprehensively you define the steps you take to reach goals, including documentation and accountability. These are the details that really drive your revenue stream.
  7. Data and technology – Data is often what drives goal-setting and decisions, and incomplete, inaccurate data can mean the difference between a great year and the need to cut programs. Tools like a CRM and marketing automation software can make organizing and leveraging data easier, especially if you take advantage of mobile and access and train all your potential users (and hold them accountable for using them). Don’t forget to make a periodic review of your tools to ensure they meet current needs.
  8. Workplace culture – It’s often reflective of your larger organization as a whole, but a positive or negative workplace culture impacts patterns of communication, teamwork (and friction points), trust, management styles, and alignment between teams. Consider if company culture is helping or hindering a sense of mutual support and shared goals.

Ask yourself if any of these areas seem more well-developed in than others. Maybe you have a great new product line poised to make a big impact in your market, but you don’t have enough staff for intensive prospecting and lead nurturing. Or maybe your sales reps waste hours sifting through inaccurate data. Or maybe you miss sales targets because you’re not using the right metrics to set actionable goals. Each of these can turn smooth rolling into lurching and clunking.

If you’ve struggled with assessing the state of your sales and marketing operations, consider giving the wheel of business model a spin. It’s a great way to identify the places you’re already doing well and those that need a little more attention. The end result is more productivity with less effort because all the spokes are equal length and the wheel is rolling efficiently. Sound good? Contact us to talk about your wheel today!


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