In this article we explore the key stages of a sales cycle, why they are important and what you need to do to fulfil them.
A sales cycle is a set of actions followed by a salesperson in order to close a sale. Businesses can benefit from having a defined sales cycle in place because it means that sales teams have a fixed and consistent guideline to help them move customers through the journey to purchase. We believe that using a 7 step sales cycle is most effective, we have outlined these stages to help you close your next sale!
Stage one of the sales cycle is to identify potential customers to sell your product or service to. Following your research, you should also consider the best way to approach them. It is important not to rush this first stage and to remember that finding the right customer takes time. Once you have completed this step, create a customer profile that describes your typical buyer and match potential leads to this.
Now you have created your customer profile it is time to reach out to your target customer and start to build connections with them. You could do this by dropping them an email, reaching out to them on social media or by telephoning them. Whatever way you choose to get in contact with your potential customer, make sure to give a good first impression!
Once you have reached out to your ideal customer, it is best to now learn more about them to get to know them better and also ensure they do still match your initial customer profile created in stage one. The best way to understand them more is to talk directly with them to find out if they are the customer for your business, if they are, this stage of the sales cycle has a secondary benefit of also beginning to build a relationship with the customer.
Now that you have a greater understanding of your potential customer, it is time to start proving why your product or service is relevant to them. Creating a good sales pitch is just the start, you have to make sure you maintain regular contact with them to keep them interested, even if they are not ready to buy straight away.
Stage five is the stage where you provide a solution to your customer’s needs by presenting the best possible case you can using the information you have gathered and learnt from them. Shark software can help you put together a business case with relevant graphs, financials and outputs that may help you get a customer on board. Ensure to keep the offer relevant to the customer and targeted and personalised to their specific needs. They may want to ask you questions or raise issues and objections about the product or service, so make sure you always answer with the best possible solution to benefit the customer.
Once all the issues and objections have been raised and answered it is now time to ask for that all important sale. Whilst there is a lot of pressure on this part of the sales cycle, it is not unusual for a customer to turn down an offer so don’t be disheartened by this if it happens, a rejection opens an opportunity to continue building a relationship for when they are ready later down the line. If a successful sale has been closed, make sure to answer any final questions the customer may have about your product or service for maximum customer retention.
Although this is the final stage of our 7-stage sales cycle, it is by no means the least important. Always make sure to follow up with the customer after a sale has been made. This could be to say thank you or you could ask for a review or referral a couple of weeks later. Following up after a sale not only gives your business a good impression but it may also lead to future sales from these customers.
Following implementation of your product or service we would also recommend giving your customers the option of a quarterly or 6-month customer success review meeting. In this review you would need to use the original business case as a baseline for what was agreed could potentially be achieved by implementing a new solution and compare this to the current financial metrics of what is actually being achieved. For more information on this take a look at our blog discussing the financial aspects of customer success.
If you would like to find out more about how Shark can support your company in any stage of the sales cycle then please get in touch.