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Running a profitable business doesn’t just happen. The most successful companies and organizations have specific steps and procedures in place that increase their probability of success. In this article, we will discuss the importance of understanding and tracking your sales cycle.
In its simplest terms, the sales cycle is the steps or phases a company goes through to complete the sale of a product or service. The number of steps can vary, depending on the company or industry, but the end goal is the same: closing the deal.
In order to track sales, it’s important to understand the selling process and its various stages. This can help identify a company’s strengths and weaknesses along the sales cycle, and what areas need improving. A sample sales cycle includes the following steps:
Sales prospecting. In this step, potential customers are identified. Their profiles are studied, and the best methods to reach them are determined.
Making contact. Contact will depend on what they prospect is looking for: Are they ready to make a purchase? Just wanting information? By knowing what they want, you can tailor your interaction accordingly.
Are they qualified? Just because a person is interested does not mean they are a good fit for your business. Too much time spent with those not able to use your product or services immediately is precious time that could have been spent working with those who can.
With that said, discarding non-qualified leads is a mistake: keep them on file and touch bases with them periodically via an email campaign or through social media ads. They may become qualified leads in the future.
Make an offer. If your lead is qualified, proceed in attempting to make a sale. Make them an offer. This step in the sales cycle is one of the most important, as it involves actively selling to the prospect. Sales can be made (or lost) by body language, mannerisms, and/or appearance, so care must be taken in this crucial step. Getting a feel for the prospect and understanding their thought process can be critical to making the sale.
Handle objections. For many prospects, the word “no” is a typical first response in the negotiations process. It is important to understand that objections are part of the business cycle and learning how to overcome them is critical to success. One way to do this is by knowing the most common objections and creating scripted responses for them.
Close the sale. Once the prospect agrees to move forward, close the deal. Make sure to have all the necessary paperwork on hand, answer any follow-up questions they may have. End the meeting with the client happy with the transaction, and a copy of your business card in hand for referrals.
For business owners, it’s critical they analyze each step of the sales cycle to see where they may be lagging. For example, some businesses may struggle getting leads. Others may have trouble qualifying, while others struggle closing sales. Analyzing each section of the sales cycle is key.
Knowing each step of the business cycle allows businesses to make an accurate gauge as to what areas need improvement. This can be accomplished with a template that tracks the metrics of each sales cycle stage. For example, the Sales Lifecycle Process Tracker can be used to help sales reps and managers track progress from the lead stage to closing. A template can make it easier to train new sales reps, helping them understand the various stages of the sales cycle. It can also alert them to specific areas in the sales cycle where they need to improve.
Utilizing a document like the Sales Lifecycle Process Tracker allows you to input information for each sales cycle that can benefit those involved in the sales process. Other benefits include the ability to input the following information:
Having a sales cycle template can ensure everyone is on the same page.
Tracking the sales cycle could be the difference between success and failure for your business. By carefully analyzing each category of the sales cycle, problem areas can be discovered, and corrective measures can be quickly taken. Start tracking your sales cycle today. Your business will thank you.