Putting the personal touch back into sales

Robert Bernardi


The beauty of Circle Technology, said Hix, is that it couples a color display with the intimacy of a small group, avoiding the cold, impersonal atmosphere of a projector-based presentation. In addition, Circle Technology does not require an Internet connection, solving security concerns by preventing sales personnel from having to connect to a company’s enterprise WIFI network.

“This tablet is going to be the next step in the sales of anything,” said Chris Boyd, who is working with Hix on identifying and penetrating specific markets. “I haven’t seen anybody who doesn’t like it.”

Boyd, a retired Army Sergeant who worked in sales at the former Coca-Cola facility in Woodland, will complete his bachelor’s degree in marketing at Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV) this summer. Boyd said that Hix’s Circle Technology can be used in almost any sales industry.

Examples include military recruiters who want to give presentations to parents and recruits in their home, insurance agents and financial advisors who want to show potential clients spreadsheets, educators who want to engage students with a dynamic learning experience, pharmaceutical representatives presenting information to physicians, and on-the-job training.

In November, Hix brought a prototype of the Circle Technology tablet to present to Boyd’s Professional Sales class, taught by WSUV Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing, Ron Pimentel.

“We’re seeing more technology in sales all the time,” said Pimentel. “I think his technology will work very well in the sales context.”

According to Pimentel, Hix’s ad hoc focus group with the sales class generated a lot of interest with the 24 students present, generating comments like “very cool technology.” Hix said that on the survey he conducted, “every student said they’d like Circle Technology as part of their sales kit.”

Pimentel said that the recent emphasis on “relationship selling,” which emphasizes customized presentations, and more sales representatives working out of their home and making presentations in places other than board rooms, are trends that will help launch Circle Technology’s success after Hix’s official product announcement in late February.

Corporate trends, too, said Hix, support his new product, which took only five-and-a-half months to go from idea to finished prototype.

“The movement to create open work spaces is a significant trend in both medium and large corporations,” said Hix. “This creates an environment that enables the adoption of more personal display devices.”

A study sponsored by tablet makers Lenovo and Qualcomm indicated that the 16.1 million tablets shipped in 2010 will swell to 147.2 million in 2015. Also, almost 50 percent of the companies surveyed foresaw tablet usage in the future for sales support and customer presentations.

Gartner Inc., a leading information technology research and advisory company, said that “smartphones and tablets, with their smaller screens, easy-to-use touchscreen interfaces and new capabilities, open the opportunity for mobile business intelligence, with innovative use cases and adoption by new user constituencies.”

According to Hix, Belgium-based Melexis, which makes semiconductor products, already has plans to equip its boardrooms with Circle Technology units, as soon as Hix settles on a tablet supplier that has the right display quality and price point, and finds the right investors to move the prototype into production.

Well-known for his innovative ideas and business acumen, Hix promised that Circle Technology is not a flash in the pan. He has founded eight companies, three of which have gone public, and has held important management positions at Sigma Research, Tektronix and Watkins Johnson Corporation. Hix was recognized as Northwest Entrepreneur of the year in 1991 and Technology Executive of the Year in 1994.

Although his company has been building prototypes for other firms for 11 years, with enough contracts to carry them through the next year and a half, Hix said Circle Technology is unique in one important way.

“This is the first product that we have taken to market,” he noted.

For more information, visit the Circle Technology website.

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