The sales cycle is a process that encompasses several stages to be successful in your business and improve contact with your customers.
Selling is a daily challenge. If you already worked or are working in this area, you probably know it.
There are innumerable obstacles in the relationship with a potential client until the business is concluded.
Many times questions arise about when and how to take each step in the sale.
The good news is that there is a way to make this process more predictable or at least set a script to be followed: the sales cycle.
At Rock Content, that is already part of our day to day. But the model is not so natural, even for the most experienced entrepreneurs.
In this publication we will explain what the sales cycle is, its importance, what the stages are and how to operate it to facilitate your sales.
What is the sales cycle?
The sales cycle is a process made up of a series of stages necessary to sell a product or service, which begins with the first contact with the customer and ends with the post-sale.
It is when we return to the initial action prospecting new leads, therefore, the sequence is defined as a cycle.
There are several parallel processes happening at the same time in the sales cycle. Are these:
You invested to have a service or a product available to your client, at the end of the process, you hope to receive your capital back with profits.
The one for sale
It is basically a task schedule to deliver your offer to your client.
It is the process thought by the client according to his own buying habits.
We can think of the financial result as a requirement, since without profit the business is not maintained.
The sales process works well when we consider the customer’s buying habits when developing it. It is what guarantees a good shopping experience and makes the cycle more effective.
But the key to success with the method is to perceive that the sales cycle is projected in time.
If you spend months negotiating with a client the financial cycle is not complete, in these extreme cases, that will mean a lack of capital for the business.
Also, the client may close the deal at any time for his own reasons or because he is not liking the shopping experience – he has his own process and his own timeline.
Finally, if you manage to decrease the time you use to complete the cycle, you increase your productivity and, consequently, your sales result.
The importance of the sales cycle
If you find someone very concerned with the decrease in the sales cycle, it is probably because they work with “complex sales” that, in most cases, have a more or less long cycle.
Longer cycles generate more attention and concern with their reduction, but short cycles can be a “trap”, as their importance is not so evident.
How many times have you already wondered if it was the ideal time to get in touch with a client?
It is very common to ask ourselves if he had enough time to think about our proposal and if it is time to request his response, for example.
Have you imagined how good it would be to know the exact moment to act at each stage of the sale? In a way that makes the process more fluid, natural and enjoyable?
Knowing the procedure of each stage increases productivity and customer satisfaction with the purchase.
The stages of the sales cycle
It does not matter if you act with complex sales, retail or even with sales of ideas, there are some stages in common for most of the segments.
These stages are:
- Prospecting: the first task is to find your potential client;
- Initial contact: the first contact can be through an e-mail, a phone call, the sending of a gift, at a business fair or in the digital medium, with the client researching and finding content like this that you are reading ;
- Qualification: it is not all the new leads that are ready for a purchase, at this stage we separate the mature ones to stimulate the next step with them.
- Presentation: it is the moment of contact with the client to show them your product or service and your commercial proposal.
- Evaluation: it is the stage of the negotiation, which can include the waiting time of the seller, when it is the case to leave a proposal for customer analysis.
- Closing: it is the stage in which the purchase becomes effective through a series of formalities;
- Post sale: it is when you confirm the satisfaction of your client and request indications or references.
Some companies may need to add or remove stages. For example, you may need to gather information to prepare a personalized presentation.
In other cases, qualification happens before prospecting, which is very common in companies that serve few clients and generate high income.
The qualification after the first contact happens mainly when we use content marketing to attract customers.
In this case, we are relating to people who have an interest in a matter related to our activity, but it may be that he is not yet mature for the purchase or even just curious about it.
The development of the sales cycle
After you have defined the stages in the most appropriate way for your case, it will be necessary to elaborate what to say and do in each one of them.
We are referring to a type of construction that has objectives and goals established according to the strategy of your business and aligned with the purchase process of your client.
Having said that, it should already be clear what you need to know first, right?
I’m talking about the buying process – customer habits and wishes – and your company’s goals and objectives.
Customer habits are vital here.
Imagine that your customer has a habit of researching certain products using Google, but your company tries to establish the first contact with him by buying advertising space in a newspaper.
Obviously it won’t work!
You need to research details like:
- when the customer buys;
- who influences it;
- how you search;
- who are you asking for directions;
- when it is usually most available;
- what places do you frequent;
- what is important to him; etc.
The more information you get, the easier it will be to develop a natural approach, which happens in time and in the most appropriate way to your client’s wishes.
Right now he is going to need to work out his cycle, which includes not only details on what to do, but also how, where and when.
Among these definitions, it is necessary to pay special attention to qualification, which determines when the lead is ready to be approached for purchase, something that we pay close attention to in Rock Content: lead segmentation.
Inboud and outbound applied to the sales cycle
The effects of the sales cycle are different depending on the business model adopted, especially regarding the choice of working with inboud or outboud .
If you are not familiar with those terms and do not want to go into the matter yet, I leave you a well-summarized definition.
We can define inbound as a strategy that encourages the client to get in contact with the company through the production of content, SEO and interactions on social networks. The sales team is internal and uses technology to optimize their process.
The outbound ; instead, it uses more traditional and invasive prospecting, making direct contact with the customer to offer the product, either by scheduling a sales meeting by phone, or by visiting the customer directly.
It is commonly used in more complex sales, especially when the consumer is not in the habit of taking the buying initiative and is difficult to stimulate. This strategy tends to have a longer cycle.
The sales cycle in inbound can be reduced in cases where the lead understands their problem and knows how to solve it.
Therefore, in this strategy it is necessary to develop skill and technique in lead nutrition.
Good nutrition allows for more efficiency in stimulating the buyer’s journey in the direction of the purchase action, making it easier for him to become aware of the solution, to consider making the choice and, finally, to decide for it.
In outbound, the effectiveness of the sales cycle depends on other factors, such as a good strategy to “reach” the person who makes the decision, that is; talk to who has the autonomy to close the business.
Customer qualification is usually done before prospecting and the sales process is more expensive.
This implies transfers and dedication of a highly qualified professional.
That is why it is important to know how to find the information that allows you to select the prospect and, at the same time, offer subsidies to deal with sales.
The timing and effectiveness of the cycle will also influence your ability to develop personalized contact, directing the conversation and sales pitch for a specific need.
If it is possible to identify and measure the customer’s problem, offering a specific solution, the sales professional can highlight the urgency of the business and, in this way, reduce the completion time.
It is evident that these strategies are defined according to the effectiveness of their results, which varies according to the customer, the product and how much, these strategies can reduce the term of the sales cycle.
There are countless marketing tools that you can use that will give you productivity and competitiveness gains.
They give you resources that allow you to obtain information about how your sales are progressing and why some are getting lost, to the automation of some processes.
A good CRM is essential to apply, accompany and manage your sales cycle.
He allows the storage of all the history of commercial actions and the monitoring of each prospect in the stages of the cycle.
This generates various reports on the migration of leads from one stage to another and allows metrics to be analyzed for each of them.
Do you know how to identify how many leads need to be attracted to reach your sales goals at the end of the process?
Without that information, it will be very difficult to achieve good results, don’t you think?
Sales indicators are essential to align the goals of each stage of the sales cycle, guaranteeing the result.
They are those that will allow you to identify which are the stages that are blocking, delaying or even permanently damaging your process.
Over time, surely, you will redefine details of your cycle as you try new strategies.
Accompanying the sales cycle was essential for the growth of Rock Content.
It is the result of constantly measuring, testing and refining the strategies and actions of our sales cycle, which keeps our doors open and attractive.