A well developed, well managed sales cycle is critical to the health of any business. It gives you clear visibility of what deals you have at each stage of the process – and where the hold ups are.
A sales cycle is the series of predictable phases required to sell a product or a service. Sales cycles can vary greatly among organizations, products and services, and no one sale will be exactly the same.
However, identifying the key steps and stages improves sales efficiency, help salespeople sell more, and speed up the process of on-boarding new sales hires.
Although all sales cycles vary, most will have the following common elements:
Finding new prospects to fill the hopper is a vital first step. A good start to prospecting is to define what a good prospect is like for your business, and think about how you could approach such a prospect.
Different approaches work better for different industries. Often times, the first contact is either a phone call, an email or even physical mail. Offering help, support and information is likely to be more successful than a hard sell.
You can only determine whether your solution is a good fit if you truly understand your prospect’s needs. Equip yourself and your sales reps with the questions and resources they need to uncover the right information.
This phase of the sales cycle is critical. You need to present your offering as a solution to your prospect’s needs. Tailor your proposal to the information you have gathered in the previous phases of the sales cycle.
Understanding the likely objections, such as price and timing, and equipping your sales team to handle them appropriately will increase your win rate and speed up your sales process.
In this phase, you will have to drive the deal to close and get the prospect’s signature on the dotted line. Mastering the different techniques for closing takes both training and experience.
Put a follow-up process in place to make sure your customers are happy. This will earn you repeat sales, as well as get you referrals for new leads you can start driving through the sales cycle.
Look at your most consistent salespeople, and see what exactly they are doing. Capture the knowledge, turn it into a process for other salespeople and replicate success.
Define the sales cycle for your own business. For each of the phases, create easily accessible templates, checklists and questions that your sales reps could use.
Set targets for the number of deals you want to have at each stage of the sales process at any time, and track the figures meticulously.
Set targets for how long a deal should stay at a sales cycle stage. If you see that a deal has no activity for longer than that period, immediately follow up to avoid the deal falling through the cracks.
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