Have you ever asked yourself if your sales team is efficient enough?

Ever wanted a way to check and compare your own business’ sales efficiency with that of your competitors?

Say less. All you need is to take a closer look at your sales cycle.

Let us explore exactly what it is, the different sales cycle stages, and understand exactly why the sales cycle process is important for your business.

 

What is a Sales Cycle?

A sales cycle refers to all of the steps involved in a sales process. It begins with the first contact with the customer up until the closing of a deal and the subsequent follow-ups. 

In simpler terms, it’s the entirety of a customer’s journey. It starts from when they recognized they needed a product up to making a purchase. 

Furthermore, you will be able to evaluate your sales efforts objectively through a sales cycle. For example, how did your sales team perform? What did they do well? What did they do wrong? Did they diverge from the sales cycle? If so, what happened?

When it comes to understanding how your business and employees are performing, perspective can be essential. Sales cycles provide this perspective.

 

The 7 Stages of a Sales Cycle

The entire sales cycle process can be seen as a series of specific stages. Based on these stages, the associated activities along with organizational processes can be determined.

The execution of the following sales cycle stages can sometimes depend on your product, company, service, or industry. However, the stages are broadly the same, no matter the situation.

Let us now understand and break down the seven main stages of the sales cycle. 

They are prospecting, making contact, qualifying prospects, presenting the offer, overcoming objections, closing the sale, and nurturing new customers.

  • Prospecting

At this stage, you will have to determine your target groups and assess if potential customers can afford what you have to offer. You will also have to determine how you will reach out to them.

Moreover, this step involves researching the market alongside creating a list of potential leads. 

Don’t rush this stage. Taking the time to properly research prospects is the best thing you can do to increase closures.

Once you have strong leads, you can then put their contact information into your CRM system.

  • Making contact

As you have identified your prospects, your next step is to initiate contact. The communication channel you choose will likely depend on the type of prospect or business.

There are many ways to go about initiating contact with prospects – via phone calls, face-to-face meetings, emails, etc.

You aren’t giving your entire sales pitch during this stage. Here, you’re just establishing contact in hopes of setting up a more formal meeting with your prospects.

Be as relevant as you can and make sure the prospects understand how you can help.

Furthermore, you can also educate your target customers. You can do this by sending relevant, valuable information via prospecting emails.

  • Qualifying prospects

Ask qualifying questions during your initial email or phone call. These questions will help you determine and better understand your prospect’s pain points and requirements.

During this stage, you will vet the client as much as possible. This stage will save you time and valuable resources since you should only pitch to qualified leads.

More importantly, you’ll want to determine if your contact person is a decision-maker and if they’re interested in purchasing your product/service.

After this, you can see if your business and your prospects are a good fit. You can then move on to the next step in the sales cycle.

  • Presenting your offer

In this highly important phase, your customers have to be convinced that the product/service you offer is a solution to their problem.

This is the most crucial stage of the sales cycle and needs the most preparation. Ideally, you should aim to present your product in a way that highlights how it can satisfy your customer’s needs.

Be ready to demonstrate exactly how your product can improve day-to-day operations for them. Additionally, also bring to attention how your organization achieves this better than anyone else.

Throughout the presentation, focus on the benefits of your product, and not on features. Your prospective client is interested in knowing what’s in it for them.

Do keep in mind that you’re technically also selling yourself during your presentation. Things like mannerisms and body language can play a big role in influencing a sale.

  • Overcoming objections

Before purchasing from you, your customer will have plenty of questions. Your job at this point in the cycle is to handle and overcome any objections.

Even the most eager customers may have some hesitations or objections. From questions about the price being too high, the contract being too narrow to feeling that terms aren’t right.

Do not hesitate to ask for more context regarding their objections. Listen patiently to what your prospective client has to say and let them know that you understand their concerns.

Based on these, then reframe your pitch to acknowledge as well as overcome those concerns.

Remember that objections don’t always mean that a sale isn’t possible. You just have to figure out how to handle them.

  • Closing the deal

After all of your customer’s concerns have been addressed, it is time to close the sale. Here you will be creating a final proposal, negotiating details, and finally signing the deal.

There are a few different approaches to closing a sales deal. Your job as a salesperson is to read your prospects and tailor your closing style accordingly.

If the prospect has eagerly listened to you and you feel like you established a good connection, you can use a more direct close. 

For example, “Okay, so let me prepare the final paperwork and we can pick a delivery date. Does that sound good?”

A less enthusiastic prospect may need a softer, more refined approach. 

Remember that you’ve already laid the foundation via the previous sales cycle stages as to why the customer needs your product. Just circle back to your main points and try to remind the prospect of why they agreed to meet with you.

Don’t assume that a sale is over because it does not close in the first meeting. It can take weeks or months to sell some products, like complicated software or large machines.

The sales cycle remains in motion until either a sale is made or a prospect declines to proceed any further.

  • Nurturing new customers

It is very important that you invest time in your new customer even after the deal is closed.

Here are a few ways to nurture your new customer relationship:

  • Ensure you have a smooth onboarding process between account managers and new customers. This allows for a seamless handoff.
  • Talk to marketing to find content that could be useful to your new customers as they use your product. Then, send them valuable related resources and content such as demos and how-to guides.
  • Remember to check in with your customer every 1-3 months and ask how you can be of assistance.

Not only can you use this time to strengthen customer loyalty, but also this is the perfect time to ask for referrals.

In addition to being excited about their purchase, your new customer is also in a prime position to recommend other clients to you. 

Make the most of this opportunity to ask your client if they know of anyone else who could benefit from your product. You can even ask for referrals later on as your business grows.

Find out: What is sales quota?

 

The Importance of the Sales Cycle

It is crucial for businesses to ensure the efficiency of their sales process. The length of the sales life cycle is therefore important to monitor.

Maintaining a record of the sales cycle process gives an organization insight into the efficacy of its sales processes.

The length of these processes can be examined and compared to the norm across the business niche. 

With this information, you can see if your cycle is shorter compared to the average cycle length. If it is, that could mean that your sales team is more productive than your competitors.

Furthermore, evaluating your sales cycle allows you to determine which steps in the process take longer than others. From there, it is possible to find ways to improve those steps. 

Furthermore, you can analyze the closing process step by step. By doing so, you can more easily pinpoint which actions led to a successful closing.

Also read: The ultimate guide to sales engagement

 

6 Tips on How to Improve Your Sales Cycle Process

Irrespective of whether your team is achieving their sales goals or not, you should continuously optimize your sales techniques. 

Here are some tips you can keep in mind:

  • Reduce work that adds little value

To optimize your sales cycle, you can easily outsource your employee’s service tasks. This lets them focus more on sales.

  • Don’t ask for big commitments

To build rapport with your prospects, you can ask them for small favours before closing the deal. For instance, asking for their phone number when contacting them in an email, asking them to introduce the product to their purchasing team, etc.

  • Be careful when carrying out follow-ups

Your salespeople should develop a habit of going through their activities with persistence and carry out frequent follow-ups.

  • Use social proof

You can use actual examples such as case studies to counter the lead’s objections or bring them closer to purchase.

  • Train your team

Make sure you create relevant documents to guide your team through the sales process. Keep an eye on the metric of each of your team members.

  • Supplement your sales cycle with a service cycle

A service cycle can be added post onto the sales cycle. This is done to meet the growing importance of customer care and service.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, the cycle for sale serves as a valuable asset to any business wishing to grow.

A sales cycle sets up the infrastructure for sales reps to prioritize leads. Moreover, they can understand how far along prospects are in their “ buyer’s journey ”. 

They allow sales reps to identify where they are with the sales cycle. Subsequently, they will then know how to best approach leads currently being pursued.

For all these reasons, you should remember to closely follow, maintain and examine your own sales cycle. It will help you determine the degree to which you have been able to achieve your goals. 

And finally, you will always know exactly how many leads are at which specific level in your sales funnel.