How to Plan for and Adjust to the Sales Cycles
Posted by Guest Author on June 13, 2012 in Sales 2.0 [ 0 Comments ]
Once you are in business, you will find that you often put most of your focus on one thing – SALES! How can I sell more, faster, better, etc., but all products and services still fall into some kind of sales cycle. People define sales cycles differently. I believe that every sale follows the 7-stage sales cycle, which means that every sale goes through the same seven steps from prospecting all the way through to asking for referrals from the new customer. Of course, planning and adjusting to the sales cycle depends on the product or service you’re selling. As a general rule, the more expensive a product is, the longer the sales cycle tends to be. No matter what you are selling, however, you need to master each one of these stages in order to thrive as a salesperson.
The Seven Stages of the Sales Cycle
- Prospect for leads: Without understanding your product completely, you will not be able to effectively determine who will buy your product.
- Set an appointment: Reach out to your leads now. Whether it is in person, my phone or via email, set a time to meet with your leads (virtually or in person.)
- Qualify the prospect: Now that you know who may buy what you are selling and you have the appointment, determine whether or not they are “qualified,” meaning that they are able and willing to buy what you are selling.
- Make your presentation: This is the core of the sales cycle, and will (rightfully so) take up most of your preparation time. Remember that you represent your business, so you are selling yourself as much as the product.
- Address the prospect’s objections: Be sure to address people concerns honestly and directly.
- Close the sale: You have to ask people to buy what you are selling. If you do not ask people to act, they most likely will not, even if they love what you have to offer.
- Ask for referrals: If you have a customer willing to buy, you should ask them for referrals. Chances are if you have made a successful sales pitch to them and closed the deal, your customer will know other people who could benefit from your product as well.
How to Find New Lead Opportunities
Throughout the cycle, there are highs and lows, opportunities and pitfalls. In other words there are busy seasons and slow seasons throughout a year when it comes to selling. Business owners should take the opportunity of down times to maximize the use of this time to plan for the up-swings and increase the lead opportunities. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Get out in the community. Make connections in your area with fellow business owners to see what everyone is up to – you can go to local networking groups like BNI, your Chamber of Commerce, and business social groups. Attend a town hall meeting to learn about what is going on in your city.
- Get social. Look at social media and online tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Participate in the conversation about what is going on locally, as well as start to ask questions and see what your customers and potential customers want. This is not only great for online marketing and lead generation, but it’s fun!
- Get planning – with your marketing. Your business and marketing plans are not one-and-done documents. Take a look at the plan you laid out to see if you need to update, do a complete makeover, or focus on areas that may need a new approach. Also, take a look at your competitors. See what they are doing with their marketing and learn from what is working (and what is not working) for them. If you are just getting started, don’t worry about getting it right immediately – take the time to figure out what is working for you, and the best ways to promote your business.
- Get learning. You may be well-versed in sales and marketing, but with online tools, things are always evolving. Take an online class anytime. SCORE.org has free online webinars available to you 24/7 covering many business topics.
By taking care of these critical steps in the down times for your sales cycle, you set yourself up to fill the sales lead funnel even more, with more qualified potential customers, and be more successful throughout the actual cycle. Remember, if you have any questions or need help with your business, you can always contact a business expert for FREE at www.score.org/mentors and get the answers you need to succeed.
Photo Credit: sales2.com
Bridget Weston Pollack is the director of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. Prior experience includes Marketing Manager at Mid-Atlantic Control Systems, a small business in the commercial low voltage industry and Marketing Coordinator at Temple University Health Systems.
Bridget has her Masters of Business Administration from Temple University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.