No two businesses are alike, but every company needs customers or clients. However, building a solid customer base is challenging, particularly if you’re new to the market.
A comprehensive sales cycle can steadily bring in new customers while keeping current patrons loyal to your business. It’s a strategic process for transitioning a lead to a paying customer.
We’ll take a closer look at the sales cycle, and outline seven steps for creating a sales process that drives sales.
When implementing a sales cycle, it’s crucial to understand its seven key stages:
Let’s examine each step in more detail.
The initial stage of generating leads is time-consuming, but it’s critical to locate consumers or other companies interested in your products or services.
Here are some avenues to search for qualified leads:
Once you’ve found credible leads, here are some primary methods to connect with them:
Ask these questions to determine if your lead is a good fit:
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an excellent way to track, manage and streamline leads across your sales team. The software makes it easier to record all lead interactions – including email data, calls and conversations.
Your sales team should also tag the lead in the CRM to denote level of interest and periodically reassess this data to ensure you aren’t missing key information or leads aren’t falling through the cracks.
If a lead isn’t likely to purchase your products or service in the immediate future, send their contact information to your marketing personnel to conduct a personalized email marketing campaign. Even if they’re not interested at the moment, follow up in the future.
In this step, you’ll make your sales pitch to a prospective consumer. It’s crucial to customize these presentations to the prospect’s specific needs. It’s also essential to keep your presentation short, as your prospect is likely busy.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during this step is to use a generic template, hoping something resonates with your prospect. Instead, illustrate exactly how your business will meet their needs.
If potential consumers have reservations, particularly if they’re considering making a hefty investment, follow these steps:
You’ve answered all their questions and reassured your prospect that your product is the best fit for their needs; it’s time to complete the sale.
Depending on how you conduct this step – either in-person or using a transactional email with a contract – it may be effective to offer purchasing suggestions through service tiers or customized product packages.
Sometimes, however, the prospective buyer backs out of the deal. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost this sale forever. Keep their information in your email marketing campaigns and follow up later. Use this as an opportunity to fine-tune your sales cycle to see what went wrong.
Your prospect is now a customer! Now your superior customer service comes into play. Follow up every two to three months to ensure the product or service is still working well for your new client. Offer continued support and ask for feedback, as happy customers will often lead to upsells and referrals.
Your customers’ needs are everything. Make sure you listen and offer solutions to their problems throughout the sales process.
A sales cycle should be integral to your broader sales or business plan. Ensure you’re intentional in every step of the process. Below are action items – and crucial questions to consider – when customizing a sales cycle for your organization.
Look at each stage of the sales cycle, and outline the processes and activities that make sense for your unique company. Be as specific as possible to ensure consistency across your team.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Create business-specific, measurable benchmarks for each of the seven sales cycle steps. It’s essential to quantify your sales process to assess each step’s success. Here are some questions to consider:
A visual reminder will aid the onboarding process while refreshing senior sales reps as they make their way through the sales cycle. Does one activity need to occur before moving within or onto another step? Use flowcharts and CRM workflows to guide viewers from one stage to the next.
Suppose you’re not hitting your company’s goals after implementing the sales cycle. Examine the metrics defined within each step to determine what is causing the problem. Your ideal number of quality leads per quarter may be too high or perhaps an outdated CRM is creating inefficiencies.
Your sales cycle won’t be perfect, but as you follow the steps, measure your successes and make any necessary changes, you’ll be closer to reaching your overall sales goals.
Your sales cycle is bound to change as you test your activities and metrics, and it may change as your business evolves. Consistently evaluate each stage of the sales cycle to ensure you’re on the right track.
Businesses can use a sales cycle to improve communication, find new efficiencies in their process and establish a consistent, repeatable plan for turning leads into customers.
These are some of the top benefits of establishing a sales cycle:
Tools and services can make your sales process more efficient by automating tasks susceptible to human error or giving your sales team more time to focus on crucial assignments.
Leads, prospects and customers generate a potentially overwhelming amount of data. If this data isn’t organized, it may cost you potential sales.
Adding CRM tools to your workflow can improve productivity, generate revenue and boost customer satisfaction. CRM solutions keep track of customer data while offering versatile business tools that help with lead management and sales funnels.
When choosing a CRM solution, get input from your sales and marketing teams, as they will be the primary users of the system you implement.
Email marketing is an excellent tool for catching the attention of potential customers and keeping current customers engaged. Automate your email marketing campaign to deliver a series of messages to leads, giving your sales team time to research and provide personalized experiences to qualified prospects.
Email marketing software can help your company plan, organize, automate, and track internal and customer-facing email campaigns. Read our reviews of the best email and marketing software and services to learn more.
People receive hundreds of emails a day, and sometimes emails get lost or ignored. Text messaging software leads prospects and customers through an automated series of messages delivered to their phones.
While text or SMS messaging offers another touchpoint, ensure you avoid text message marketing mistakes, such as spamming your audience with content.
Your business’ individual sales cycle might include a lot of moving parts. Specific employees may be responsible for generating leads, while other team members are tasked with following up or making presentations. Implementing project management software could help organize these processes within your sales team.
Customer service begins the minute you contact a lead, so it’s essential to ensure your lead can contact your business and get timely answers to their questions. If your team is small and can’t adequately address calls and inquiries from potential customers, consider choosing a customer service call center to ease the load.
Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than a complicated payment process. It would be regrettable to lose a sale at the last minute because your payment system is inefficient. Your business may benefit from credit card processing tools to streamline your payment procedures.
Every business is different, and one company’s sales cycle might not work for another. Take steps to evaluate what success looks like to you and your team and continue to measure, modify, and readjust your processes consistently to create the best sales cycle you can for your business.