Factory workers follow a defined process when they manufacture a car. The first step leads to the next and then the next. Each production stage builds on the one before, continuing until shiny new vehicles roll away at the end of the assembly line. So, what are the 5 steps of the sales process?
Think of your sales cycle in these terms. True sales professionals understand the nature of the sales process and work to move a potential customer along each stage to the ultimate goal of a purchase.
The Importance of Identifying The Steps In Your Sales Processes
Some sales managers visualize the sales process as a circle – a pathway that wraps around itself. Viewing the sales cycle in this manner helps to reinforce the idea that the work of sales reps is never really finished.
Other sales leaders think of the sales process as an inverted pyramid. This sales funnel begins with the customer at the top, and he falls through each stage to the inevitable conclusion.
Alternatively, other sales reps view the defined sales process as a kind of sales pipeline, with potential customers systematically ushered through the steps.
However, if you choose to view the sales cycle, remember that each of the above representations involves key similarities.
- They are all descriptive of a defined sales process.
- They present a series of repeatable steps for those trying to make a sale.
- They give each sales rep key points to focus on in the sales cycle, whether you work individually or as part of a sales team.
A common phrase in sales is “A B C, always be closing.” But that can’t be true, can it? If you are always focused on closing, you will miss important aspects of selling crucial to the customer experience and more revenue overall.
Consider a 5 step sales process that identifies each point in good sales processes. You’ll be better equipped to find success once you have a greater understanding of these sales stages.
The first step in the 5 step sales process is called prospecting. This is extremely important. Like a miner looking for gold in a mine, this step stage will take work. But this step will prove its value to your effective sales process.
From the first contact with a prospect – a potential customer – work to build a rapport with them. You can spend a fair amount of time on this first stage, but it will be worth it at the end of the sale.
You should remember with each prospective buyer that the sale will often depend on the work you are willing to do. This is the land of cold calls and following up on leads.
Once a potential client is identified, the real work begins.
Many companies invest in a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, allowing companies to administer their interactions with potential customers.
Typically, this is accomplished through data analytics compiled from various sources. Website, email, live chats, and social media all come together to provide an aggregate forecast of customer behavior.
Learning to use these systems well will help a company produce more qualified leads and allow you to advance to the next stage of the sales process.
The second of the five stages is qualification. You are ready to sell your company’s goods or services, but is the prospect ready to purchase them?
Here is where you must determine customer needs. This can be a make-or-break step in the sales process. If the potential customer doesn’t require a service or the ability to purchase, then the deal will likely ultimately fail.
However, your job as a sales rep is to make the sales pitch of value to customers. If they aren’t ready to purchase the service or solution you are selling, is there something else they need? Find out.
The next point in our 5 step sales process can be called nurture. You want to turn the sales prospect into a full-fledged sale. Do this by offering a solution, selling to their needs.
This circles back to the first stage of the sales process because, at first, you may need help to make a sale. But you can record each interaction with prospects and feed that into your customer relationship management solution for better data.
Every interaction with prospects is an opportunity and a step toward your success.
It is also a factor in the prospect’s view of your business. So don’t overstate what your goods and services will do for them. Otherwise, your first deal with them may very well be the last.
Final Sales Pitch
You’ve followed leads, and you were able to determine the needs of the prospect. And you, through your sales skills, got the attention of potential customers. What is the next step in a good sales process?
The fourth stage in your sales cycle will be the final sales pitch. Your job here is to convince key decision-makers of the benefits that your company brings them.
Anticipate roadblocks and be adept at handling objections. Identify who your competitors are and develop reasons why customers should choose your business over others.
You’ve done a lot so far in the sales process. You are almost to the sale! You have one final thing to accomplish once you’ve completed this stage of the 5 step sales process.
The last step in the sales cycle is closing. Make the final deal. Be aware of opportunities to set customers up for repeat business. A deal is great, but more deals are better.
Work to expand your customer base as you close deals by providing the best customer service possible. Customer referrals will help your business maintain healthy growth in revenue.
In A Nutshell
There you have it – a 5 step sales process that will lead you down the road to a deal:
- Discover prospects via cold calling, data mining, or other means.
- Qualify if the prospects are truly potential customers because they need your services and can purchase them.
- Nurture the prospects’ interest and present the value your company gives them.
- Give your final sales pitch and handle objections that may derail the sale process.
- Close the deal.
While this sales process outlines the basic method of how to sell successfully, it isn’t the full story. There are a lot of factors that play into how adept a business is in the sales cycle. For example, sales teams as a whole can succeed or fail.
Bonus Sales Process Advice: Work As A Sales Team
Do you have all the makings of a good sales process? Great. Wonderful. Make sure you are doing something other than sabotaging yourself at the sales team level.
Work together as a dedicated sales team. Support your colleagues in the sales process. A spirit of competition can easily creep in. But more deals mean more revenue for the business, which is a good thing!
When a sales team coordinates its sales cycles, sales reps work at every level of the sales process. There will be less chance of the company hitting a sales slump with company revenue taking a hit.