7 Steps in the Sales Cycle
by Tony Drexel Smith
Salespeople drive revenue, communicate the Company’s messaging and often bridge the gap between the organization and its target customers. Ultimately, great sales teams with quality executive leadership create phenomenal companies because “a rising tide lifts all boats” within the company. A deep understanding of the sales cycle by C-Level Executives, sales management and the sales people provides a clear understanding of expectations, focuses energy and time in the right balance and keeps the sales staff on target by moving through a prescribed process.
I’ve been teaching the 7-steps to selling for more than 20 years. It is an accumulation of the training I’ve experienced by Tom Hopkins (Master the Art of Selling), Zig Ziglar (Greatest Salesman in the World), Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends & Influence People) and Brian Tracy (Be a Sales Superstar). Today I’ll share with you the 7 steps in the Sales Cycle that I use to teach my Clients and use daily within my company – Blue Moon Advisors.
Recognize the “Main Theme” – Ask Questions!
Step 1: Identify the Audience – Pre-meeting Research
Compile a list of potential clients that you think are in the right audience. What is the “correct” audience you might ask? People who need your product or service. Learn about the buyer and their company prior to contacting them. This not only displays your professionalism to the prospective customer but does not waste time on having them educate you. Quality research will lead to good decision making about where to focus your time and energy. Most important, however, is the fact that your customer will appreciate that you took the time to know about them.
People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. –
– Teddy Roosevelt
This step needs to be executed perfectly otherwise the remaining steps may be useless. You want to have a good foundation when it comes to this cycle. Find out who your audience is based on what your product is. Things to consider: How old are they? Are they male or female? What’s their day like? And most importantly, what can you help them with the most?
By answering some of these basic questions you’ve already made progress with these steps! Along with identifying your audience, identify the appropriate channels to your potential clients. Ask yourself: Were they referred by an associate? Were they referred by one of your previous clients? Did they find you via Social Media Outlets? These are all important questions to have answers to and it also leads us into our second step.
Step 2: Make Contact – Establish the Lead
Ensure you are focused on fulfilling the customer’s needs and NOT your own. Some advice is that the customer does not care about you. They care about what you can do for them. Ask them if they are interested in learning about your product, service, or opportunity. If the answer is yes, then send them (what I like to call) teasers. Teasers are any type of introductory documents. Something that gives them a little taste of your service/product. After the first contact is made, always follow-up with a second scheduled interaction (meeting, call, etc.) Types of introductions you can use to reach your target audience.
Group Meetings from Organizations that Your Target Client Would Attend:
Direct Phone Call
- Cold Call
- 3-way referral call
- Conference call
- Create a standard introductory email
- Create an information email
- Create a call to action email
Any of these introductions will benefit you; however, choose the one that best fits your audience. Gauge their knowledge of you and your service by asking some basic questions.
Are you familiar with (insert name here)? Are you aware of our services? Do you need our services?
Asking these questions is the best way to tailor your sale. Not everyone thinks or will react the same. Make sure you have an exceptional range of tools to implement.
Some example of tools would be:
- Web links
- Example materials
Once you make contact and implement your tools be sure to set up a meeting to present.
Step 3: Present Your Services
During your presentation, share how your service/product will improve your Client’s needs and/or situation. Review the information you’ve gathered from them and use that to build your presentation. With that information, confirm the client’s interest and proceed by setting up a meeting with them. Your goal is to peak their interest. You want them to be fully engaged in your presentation.
In the world of business today, trust is more important than ever, especially when it comes to your relationships with your clients, customers, employees, and all stakeholders in your business. But what do we mean by “trust?” Webster’s dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Trust is at the foundation of the survival of your business. Gain credibility from them to ensure that your trust is solidified. Show your client’s what you can deliver to them. Show them how your process will help them. Once you’ve completed that, Pre-close! Ask them something along the lines of “Do you see how this process can be helpful to you?” If they are still confused, be prepared to answer questions.
Step 4: Handle Questions & Objections
When it comes to any service or product there will be objections and questions. Be prepared to answer them! Review your key features and benefits to them. It’s highly recommended to develop and provide a “Frequently Asked Questions” list. This ensures that trust and gives them more information.
Additionally, I always ask the potential client to tell me during the meeting their questions and objections so I can address them immediately. Not only does it put them at ease after you’ve addressed their concerns, but it also gives you a better understanding of their needs and desires.
Step 5: Ask For the Sale.
Always ask for the sale!!! After you’ve handled questions and objections, prepare yourself to present the appropriate documents to execute the sale. Double check your documents to make sure they comply with federal, state, and industry-specific rules, regulations and laws as they should be prepared by legal counsel. Don’t be nervous at this point, be confident in yourself.
If they ask for a follow up so they can have more time to think about it, let them. A smart client will take their time making decisions. However, make sure you follow up and ask for the sale again. Handle any objections appropriately as well.
Step 6: Execute the Agreement
Coordinate with all parties associated with the agreement (legal, accounting, advisors). Provide the paperwork and documents to all persons involved. At this point, the goal is having them sign up. Be very observant of the clients and watch to see if there is any hesitation or doubt in their body language. Be very supportive to them and continue building that trust.
Step 7: Follow-Up.
Once the agreement is completed, provide updates via emails, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc.
Always continue building the relationship. Be involved with your clients and check in on them regularly. Ask for referrals from them and make good on commitments! Remind them that they made a great decision and provide excellent execution.
These steps were developed over time and experience I’ve had throughout my entire career. These seven steps are designed to help you and your business thrive! As you practice these steps in your day-to-day sales it will become second nature. You will grow more confident and become the best at what you do. Even if you don’t know the answer entirely, be confident and let them know that you will find the answer to their question. I can’t guarantee you that these steps will grant you a sale every single time. There will be times when people will say no. Don’t be discouraged and don’t lose faith in yourself. Be persistent, have a burning desire to serve and practice until it’s natural.
About Tony Drexel Smith
Tony Drexel Smith is an entrepreneurial consultant and business coach specializing in business capital. He has authored more than 1,000 publications including business plans, marketing plans, white papers, articles, blogs, booklets, pamphlets and books. He has helped launch more than 250 companies, including hiring and training sales teams. He has led the development of more than 750 financial packages, all including sales and marketing plans. To date, Mr. Smith has interviewed more than 5,000 sales people over a 20 year period. He has personally hired, trained and motivated more than 500 salespeople in more than 25 organizations. Mr. Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of Blue Moon Advisors. For the past four years, he has lived in Las Vegas, Nevada after building his practice in Los Angeles for 20 years.