The 3 Most Important Stages of the Sales Cycle
Though there are different interpretations of the details of a sales cycle, the general principles seem to be universal. A typical sales cycle consists of the following stages: prospect for leads, initiate contact, qualify lead, present the offer, overcome objections, close the sale, and generate referrals. While every stage in the sales cycle is crucial for a successful sales model, we’ll focus on what some to believe the 3 most critical stages which need extra care and attention.
1. Present the Offer
While all stages of the sales cycle have their own purpose, this is the “make it” or “break it” moment. This is the moment where all the preparation will be tested. This moment is crucial because there’s only one chance at presenting the offer successfully. If there is any doubt, any lack of knowledge, or any misrepresentation, the lead can withdraw into oblivion, never to be seen again. You need to present them with the correct “bait”, if you will.
2. Overcome Objections
This stage is almost as crucial as presenting the offer because it involves just as much grit, of not more. The lead is interested, but still has some legitimate questions which are acting as barriers between you and the close. This is the moment where the fish has already bitten the hook but is fighting to get free. Your job is to balance the tension by adhering to their inquiry but still luring them in, gently. Pull too hard and the line will break. The goal is not to be overly aggressive, but not passive either. One thing to note is that the difficulty of the objection stage is dependent on how successfully the offer was presented in the previous stage. The better you did on presenting the offer, the easier the objection stage should be. In my honest opinion, this is where the real fight is. If you’re successful in this stage, you’ve made the close.
3. Prospecting for Leads
This is where it all starts. Researching which type of lead you’d like to engage is as crucial as choosing a lake to fish in. It would be a bad idea to fish for tuna in a freshwater pond. The better your understanding of the lead and their profile, the better you can prepare for the offer presentation. I’d like to argue that the final referral stage, after a sale has been made, bleeds in to the prospecting stage once again. It is called a sales “cycle” after all. With a successful close, a referral can be made, which then creates a new lead. With the correct tweaks, a very well-oiled machine will be operational.
I’d like to note that I didn’t include the “close” of the sale as an important stage. It goes without saying that the close IS the end goal and is purpose of the cycle. But the reason that I didn’t include it is because I believe that if the offer is presented correctly to a well prospected lead, and the objections are being handled properly, the close is already in the bag. The final struggle is during the objection stage but if that is overcome, then you can consider it a success. The close is just the culmination of all of it.
Again, all stages of the sales cycle are important and serve their own purpose. But some stages need particular care if the entire system is function properly. Spend time practicing and becoming familiar with these 3 stages and you’ll start to see the entire cycle operating as one well-oiled machine.