Sales Cycle

Rafat Abushaban

- Sales #  O 8.7K views   اقرأ بالعربية

Summary:Sales Cycle describes the steps required in a full sales process, starting from the customer contact at first to finalizing the sale and closing the deal.

The Sales Cycle helps business owners and sales managers lay the steps required to land clients, as it describes in detail each step required for the customer from initial contact until the customer makes a purchase. It presents a guide for the sales process that can simplify the method of attracting and transforming leads to customers.

The 7 Steps of a Sales Cycle

Different industries can have different methods of doing business- and therefore different sales cycles- but generally the cycle contains around 7 stages that different industries and businesses share as shown in the figure below.

Sales Cycle
  1. Finding leads

    Once a segment in the market is identified to form a customer profile, the business should start looking for such customers in target areas.
    The output of this step is an addressable lead(s) that can be contacted and pitched the product of service offered later.

  2. Contacting leads

    Once a lead is found and identified, the next step is to initiate contact with this lead. This step focuses on initiating contact to collect information on the problem or pain the customer is suffering.
    The output of this step is a contact channel with the lead.

  3. Qualifying leads

    As we move up the ladder, it is time to qualify and assess the lead. This is done by collecting and evaluating data on the lead's problems and pains, and evaluating the value-to-customer fit through the Value Proposition Canvas .
    The output of this step is a qualified lead that is ready to receive the offer.

  4. Pitching leads

    One of the more important steps where the lead is pitched the product or service in a clear and relevant approach that relates to the lead's personal problems and pains (See our Pitch deck guide for more info).
    The output of this step is a lead who has been pitched to. The lead might still have unanswered questions or doubts.

  5. Dealing with objections

    After the lead has received the offer, they often don't buy directly (if they intend to buy), until after having some doubts or queries on the product or service performance, quality, life-value, or price point. Such objections and doubts are natural and part of the sales cycle where the sales manager is excepted to deal with them and ease the customer doubts convincing him/her of making the purchase.
    The output of this step is a lead who has been pitched to, having no doubts or objections. The lead is ready to buy.

  6. Close the deal

    Closing the deal takes place as the lead actually makes a purchase and buys the product or service, so that he/she turns from a lead into an actual customer.
    The output of this step is a purchase.

  7. Follow-up

    Following the purchase, it is essential to collect feedback on your product or service to see how the customer has benefited, and what can be done to improve for the next customer. Here, it is important to win the customer loyalty to turn him/her into a repeat customer, and to get them refer their friends and collegues.
    The output of this step is a loyal\repeat customer.

Improving the Sales Cycle

While the mentioned 7-step process helps guide your sales effort throughout the sales cycle, the cycle itself can be improved when considering the following pointers.

  • Focus on the highest impact tasks. Administrative and followup activities are usually part of the sales cycle and can lead to waste of time and resources. Taking the Pareto Principle that states that 80% of output is caused by 20% of activities, it is wise to choose the most valuable activities and utilize in a sales cycle.

  • Correct and consistent communication is essential to make sure that the sales cycle steps move smoothly from one to another. Here, contacting customer utilizing a drip marketing approach using emails or other means can be a great help to ensure that the cycle is successful.

  • Sometimes, selling less helps. Downselling is a technique that can be utilized as it may help increase small customer commitments, and thus increasing the probability of turning a lead into a paying customer.

Rafat Abushaban

Founder of Riable and consultant to several international organizations in entrepreneurship education and researcher in innovation systems and seed funding methods with 10+ years of practical experience in the MENA region, Europe, US and S.Korea
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