A sales cycle consists of different phases/stages of the process that sales reps go through when selling a product or service. Each sales cycle is unique to different businesses’ needs, but a well-developed sales cycle is pertinent to a business’ success in sales. It’s valuable to develop a sales cycle not only to have an organized chain of events for sales, but to also be able to keep track of where different sales reps and plans are in the cycle. The sales cycle is a way to keep track of past, present and future sales opportunities for your sales reps and your company.

When organized and managed properly, the sales cycle has the potential to help in determining which stages are strengths for certain sales reps versus which seem to be weaknesses based on the length of time a sales plan has been stuck in one stage. It can also help when determining the stage during which most sales are dropped, allowing for the chance to identify the problem and find a solution.

What does a sales cycle need?

Not every sales cycle is identical, because they are mostly specific to certain businesses’ needs. However, most of them will have the following stages in common:

Prospecting: This is an important step to start with. When looking for new prospects, consider how your business would describe a good prospect. Then, think about what would be the best way to approach this potential prospect that will capture their interest.

Initiate Contact: It’s important to have a plan of approach when initiating contact with a prospect. Each organization’s preferences are different, but perhaps initiating with a phone call, an email or a hand-written letter will do the trick.

Identify Needs: You cannot benefit your prospect or your business without knowing and fully understanding the needs of your prospects. Be sure to prepare the right questions to ask to discover just what it is your prospect wants and needs from you.

Present Offer: After doing research to gain insight on what it is your prospect wants and needs, formulate a proposal specifically based on those needs and what you can offer your prospect.

Manage Objections: Not every proposal is guaranteed to be accepted the first time it is presented. When formulating your proposal, consider any and all objections and concerns that your prospect may have regarding your plan. Some examples of objections include prices or timeframes. If possible, provide a counter to their concerns, and consider how you can manage these objections.

Close a Sale: If and when your prospect accepts the proposal, it’s time to close the sale. Closing a sale takes years of training and experience, so be sure to put your best sales representatives in action at this stage.

Repeat Sales and Referrals: This stage offers a follow-up opportunity for your clients to gauge their satisfaction. This step may provide you with the chance for repeat sales with your clients and/or potentially lead to referrals to new prospects.

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