No matter the product, there is always a sales cycle consumers must go through to purchase a product or service, the only difference being the size. Companies selling quick, simple products or services (i.e. food, toiletries, and clothing) usually have a very short sales cycle. Not much thought needs to go into purchasing toilet paper and consumers would only find it a burden if the sales cycle was drawn out. On the other hand, complex, high cost items (i.e. B2B software, business hardware, and agile integration and maintenance) require a much longer sales cycle.
It is a salespersons job to understand this type of sales cycle for many reasons:
- A large investment is usually involved. For a company to spend X amounts of dollars on a complicated product or service, the salesperson needs to create a knowledgeable, professional, pitch.
- For such a product or service, most of the time salespeople do not only pitch to one person. They pitch to a group of decision makers and higher-ups. It is the salespersons job to get everyone on board with making a close.
- A long sales cycle could be drawn out for months, sometimes a year. A salesperson must not let the company forget that there is a product or service on the table of which they’d benefit from.
Identify your target market
The first step in the sales cycle is identifying the target prospects and building a list of leads. Prospecting, just as the word implies, is about searching for new customers. This step may seem fairly straight forward but upon closer examination it becomes more complex. The key to prospecting effectively is knowing where to dig and what to look for. It’s also important to distinguish between a lead, a prospect, and a qualified prospect. Once a salesperson has identified the target market, they need to make some noise, raise awareness, and gather some potential leads. Reaching c-suite level employees of a company is not always the easiest. So a salesperson needs to be 100% sure the target market is correct, build a strong online and offline image, and create some marketing campaigns that explain what you do in a fair amount of time. Once that’s completed, getting in touch with some higher-ups will be easier but a salesperson should be prepared that they may still have to pitch to a group lower on the chain of command first.
A Needs Assessment
This is arguably the most important step of the sales process because it allows you to determine how you can truly be of service. To be a highly effective salesperson, you first have to understand what your customer needs are. This means you must think in terms of solving a prospects problem. The only way to do that is by asking lots of questions. Asking good questions will not only help you determine what will best suit their needs, but it builds confidence, trust, and will very often help the customer consider issues they may never have thought of.
The third step would be to demonstrate the product or service and win the client’s confidence. The presentation should be showing the product or service from the customers prospective. They want to know why your product is best for them. This step will hopefully include or initiate the close.
The followup is how the sales is nurtured. It is important to keep the client satisfied. By building customer loyalty it makes it easier to up-sell. You want to stay “top of mind” with your client. The followup therefore should never end. The pace may slow but it will never end.
make your sales take off
The reason why most salespeople fail is that they focus too much on some parts of the process without realizing how equally important other parts are. Each step can be individualized. Not only to the client but to the sales persons own selling style. Maximize your efforts in every step, and you’ll be surprised at how many more sales you can and will make.