Every sale follows the same cycle, regardless of what you are selling. To master sales, you need to properly perform all the stages of the sales cycle. You may be able to get by if you perform a few of the stages, but to be a master salesperson, you must do all of them.
1) Generate Your Initial Leads List
The first step in the process is to generate an initial list. Your first means of acquiring prospects for this list is through referrals. It’s easier to sell to a referral than it is to a brand new lead that knows little about your product or service. Ask your current clients for the names of any contacts that they think could use your product or service. Follow up this effort by reaching out to any networks you belong to for more referrals. A good example of this type of group could be found on a social network like Facebook or linkedin. Finally, trade leads with other salespeople in your market.
2) Qualify Your Leads
The next step in the process is to qualify the contacts on your initial list. Review each contact and determine what their title is and whether they are the decision maker. In Business-to-Business sales you may need to seek out a purchaser, a department head, of even the CEO. In Business-to-Client sales your lead may need to share the decision to purchase your product or service with a parent, spouse, or significant other.
3) Set Your Appointments
Put your list of qualified leads to work and make your appointments. The contacts that provided you with referrals should be able to recommend the best way to contact your prospects. If not, either call or email your new prospects.
4) Make Your Pitch
The pitch is the most important stage of the cycle, and will require plenty of preparation. Remember that when you make a sale, you are the “face” of your company, setting up a long term relationship that will pay off in repeat sales.
5) Counter Negative Feedback
At this stage you will encounter the prospect’s reasons for not purchasing your product or service. Counter their reasons with your product or service’s features. If the prospect explains that they can’t make the purchase due to being in a contract with another provider, ask them when the contract expires so you can return to them later.
6) Close the Sale
Once you have finished the pitch and answered the prospect’s questions, simply ask them for the sale with confidence.
7) Ask Your New Client for Referrals
As mentioned earlier, it’s easier to sell to a referral than it is to a brand new lead that knows little about your product or service. And the best time to ask is after a sale, when their enthusiasm toward what you sold to them is at its highest. Simply ask your new client for the names of any contacts that they think could use your product or service. Remember that this process is a cycle, always returning to the first stage.