It’s the middle of 2023 already, has your company started looking up all the numbers yet? A good sales team likes to know the market well. Everything related to return on investments, the direction of goals, and competitive advantage values – primarily the raw data sourced from research. But to channel this data into strategies is an entirely different matter.
A company can increase their customer response rates over email by 160% of its outreach strategy, and content construction is just right. But how would they use this data and effectively improve sales conversion rates? By following the sales cycle.
Table of Contents
What is a Sales Cycle?
A business exists to make profits. Generally, popularity, goodwill, and product differentiation follow later. Their first objective is to make sales of products, services or a combination of both. The complete step-by-step process involved in making these sales in the consumption and involving the movement of information on both ends and from the consumer to the company is its sale cycle.
It has a beginning point with the potential prospects; later they are deals that need to be closed by the sales team, ending with getting future referrals. Some companies also perform market research to show better commitment towards their sales targets.
Zendesk reports B2B sellers prefer making direct calls because 50% of decision-makers like having a streamlined discussion. Since their sales targets are realised by striking more deals, their research on how B2B market decisions determine how well the company can implement goals.
What are the Steps of a Sales Cycle?
1. Identify your leads
As a brand providing a product or service, the first target you have to achieve is to find prospective leads for the same. We can generate leads by understanding how valuable your product is for a customer.
Once you see how customers benefit from this purchase, it is easy to identify the interested target audience and make cohorts out of the database. While you are already working hard to prospect for leads, you can also let the job do itself by providing a place on your website where people wanting to know further can submit their email IDs.
2. Get in touch with your leads
Organise your acquired list of individuals from the target audience; the next step is to initiate contact. You can do this by sending a newsletter to the email ID consumers sign up with. While a newsletter is a more generalised method, you can personalise your sales pitch by directly sending an email or contacting them over the phone. By taking the initiative to open lines of communication, you can build a rapport with a potential customer, even without spending costlier resources on them.
3. Qualify your leads into customers
Statistics show that only 10-15% of all leads convert into customers who go through with deals. With the odds not in your favour, the third step of a successful sales cycle is to identify those who are not yet ready to make a purchase and eliminate them from the list. This will ensure you don’t waste your time and effort on such leads.
That does not have to mean that these leads are entirely useless! Instead, ask for a manager or higher-up to clarify whether they will need your product or service further. Take your time, decide, and make the right choices. As a member of the sales team, there is no time to waste, optimise it by being transparent in every proceeding with involved stakeholders.
4. Display your product
Remember the points you identified in the first step? Well, now is the time to showcase them to your potential customers. Displaying and promoting your product or service now requires a lot of careful thought and attention since this step represents the main sales pitch.
Mention points about what sets your product apart from others in the market as well as how these unique features can solve a day-to-day problem faced by the customer. Make sure to also include lots of strong visuals in this presentation as this helps you create a long-term brand image in the mind of your potential customer.
5. Be prepared for questions
If you have done your research about the typical sales cycle, you will be well aware that almost every customer or investor will be eager to ask questions, especially if they are truly interested in your product or service.
Most questions by investors will be related to the number of units you have already sold, what customer testimonials say is the best and worst thing about your product and so on. As for customers, they will commonly object to the product price, and the warranty you offer, and enquire about why you can provide a better deal than your competitors. In such a scenario, be ready to answer these questions honestly and confidently, and rethink your sales pitch to include and overcomes these questions.
6. Close the sale
Depending upon your unique style of selling, and the nature of rapport you have built with your prospective client, closing the sale can be a direct or a roundabout process. Keep in mind that just because a customer refuses to seal the deal, doesn’t mean you cannot try again. In fact, a sales cycle can vary from being a procedure completed within a few hours, to a long-term project built up over several months. So, even if your designed steps look different from the norm, do not lose hope and keep repeating steps 3 to 5 till you have either been able to complete the sale, or your prospective client declares that they do not wish to proceed in the future.
7. Ask for referrals
Now that you have made a sale, chances are your customer is quite happy with their purchase and are about to inform others about it as well. Don’t let this time go to waste! Ask for a recommendation or review of your product.
With prior permission, you can display these as testimonies on your website for an added authenticity level and assurance for your future customers. You can also ask your client to refer a friend or family member who may be interested in what you are selling, saving you both time and resources.
Tips on Stages
While each cycle starts and ends with the same 7 stages, it’s the value you add as a part of the process that assists in deciding whether you can close the sale. This value comes from having a quality product, but it is up to you to properly represent it to potential customers. So, without further ado, here are four tips to improve your sales cycle.
1. Have an optimistic mindset
A sales professional speaks on behalf of a product or service. It’s important to have a positive mindset so that you can communicate well with your clients and deliver your sales pitch with images. Building an optimistic ideology is not difficult. Your team can even start by assigning some time early in the day to focus on daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Decide tasks you want to accomplish throughout the day.
2. Create a story
Most customers are more inclined to purchase a product which has a clear vision behind its launch, something designed to target a real demand rather than simply being a way of making money. To avoid the latter, create a story for the product you are trying to sell. Humanise your sales pitch and build interest in your prospective clients.
3. Engage in active listening
A good tip for any social interaction is to listen more and speak less. This saying is even more helpful for a salesman. Engaging in active listening helps you to read between the lines and pick up on cues from your customer’s choice of words or body language. These indicators can help you to close a deal or prevent disaster from ensuing from you accidentally pushing them too much. Active listening also helps streamline your sales pitch with keywords that create a long-lasting impact on your customer.
Follow up on your performance
If you have been in the sales industry for a reputable period, you will be familiar with the importance of immediate goals and long-term sales opportunities. The only way to improve company performance and
to perpetually reach bigger targets is to keep a close eye on its field performance. Ask for performance reviews from the research team or feedback from clients you have worked with previously; customer surveys also work great. Take notice of both achievements and failures along the way so you can keep doing what you do best without making as many mistakes as before.
We hope these 7 elaborate stages guide you into outperforming every competition in any market your company enters. You could invest in an in-house team or outsource them all. Don’t wait another minute, jump-start the process of your sales cycle today!