Seven stages of the sales cycle
The sales cycle helps you follow a solid routine each time you’re making a sale to remain in control from the prospect stage to the referral stage. Here are the seven stages of the sales cycle:
1. Find leads and prospects
You must first understand your product to find leads who will benefit the most. Ask yourself important questions about your product or service, such as:
- How does this product stand out from the competition?
- What customer challenges does this product overcome?
Understanding your product’s value helps identify your target audience, what they’re searching for in a product and how yours solves their problems. There are many ways you can find leads for your business, including:
- Attending networking events
- Creating educational content and displaying it on your website with a contact form
- Providing product demonstrations at industry conferences
- Targeting your audience through online advertisements
- Searching social media for potential customers
2. Make an appointment
After finding potential contacts and their information, call, email or meet them in person. Explain who you are and request an appointment to discuss the product further. Use a sales flowchart to track each time you contact them.
3. Qualify the leads
Meet with the client to explain your product’s value. It can take one or two sales meetings to fully detail its benefits. Use this time to listen and understand the customers’ needs and challenges. Learn if they’re the decision-maker and can sign the purchasing order. If not, ask to meet with their supervisor.
During your qualification meeting, determine if your product fits within their budget. Establish the features they’re looking for or that their company needs. Your chances of making the sale increases if you have the qualities they’re looking for. If they mention they can purchase the product in a year rather than immediately, plan to meet with them in a year.
4. Present your product and its values
After learning more about the customer and their needs, present your product to them. Highlight the benefits your product has that others lack and which characteristics best cater to their needs. For example, if a lead tells you they need a content management system with social media integration, demonstrate this feature to them.
Maintain professionalism during your presentation by standing up straight, using engaging body language and dressing professionally.
5. Answer questions and respond to objections
After presenting, answer questions and address concerns. Carefully listen to their objections and questions. Respond with positive, detailed and clear answers. If they have a concern, like pricing, for example, explain other benefits that make the product worth the price.
6. Close the sale
Once your prospect receives all the information, move to make a sale. Approach the way you close according to their reaction and personality. If they’re eager about the product, immediately close by offering to print out the contract and ask for signatures. Reiterate your main points and product benefits to more hesitant leads. If they’re unable to immediately close the sale, set up an upcoming meeting and provide additional details then.
7. Request referrals
Right after closing the sale, ask your new customer if their friends or colleagues will also benefit from this product. If you’d rather ask later, request referrals later on after growing your business relationship with them.
Strategies for increasing sales
After regularly using the seven stages of the sales cycle, implement these strategies to help close more deals quicker:
- Deliver a strong elevator pitch: A rehearsed 30-second summary explaining who you are and what your product is that you can use anytime you see a lead.
- Give a unique selling proposition: Outline how your business or product differs from the competition.
- Identify common sales objectives: Knowing common lead objections beforehand helps you prepare statements that easily overcome them.
- Develop effective negotiation skills: Develop terms everyone will agree with that leaves customers satisfied and you receiving appropriate compensation.
Types of sales roles in business
Different sales positions vary according to the tasks and the employees’ relationships with clients. Common types of sales roles include:
- Sales representative: Communicates with customers and prospects via email, phone calls or in-person meetings to present and sell their product.
- Sales manager: Oversees and provides support to the sales team to help them generate leads and close deals.
- Sales support specialist: Provides administrative duties for a sales team like monitoring sales staff performance, recording sales data and scheduling meetings.
- Sales Coordinator: Tracking quotas of the sales team and coordinating training to help them improve.
- Sales engineer: Using technical expertise to sell and answer specific questions about the software or program a company’s selling.
Frequently asked questions about sales for business
What are business sales?
Business sales involves selling your product to a customer. There are two main types of business sales:
- Business to consumer (B2C): Selling your product directly to an individual customer. Examples of B2C businesses are car dealerships, fitness centers and clothing stores.
- Business to business (B2B): Selling your product or service to a business to enhance its overall performance and increase efficiencies. Examples include software companies, marketing agencies and office furniture manufacturers.
How can a small business increase sales?
Since a small business will typically have fewer resources than a larger company, here are a few tips to increase sales:
- Understand your product, its value and why customers need it.
- Find cost-effective and creative ways to visually tell your story through PowerPoint, printouts, pictures or whiteboards.
- Rehearse your responses to common objections.
- Build a personal connection with your potential customer through regular meetings, phone and email communications and educational material.
How does sales help a business?
Selling a useful product and maintaining strong sales relationships with clients helps build trust with customers. When customers trust you and your product, they’ll refer you to their friends and colleagues. Successful referrals and strong customer relationships lead to more sales, which helps your company earn stronger profits.