The 7 Stages of the Sales Cycle

No matter what you're selling, every sale follows roughly the same pattern. It's a rare sale that doesn't include each of these steps in one form or another. Often salespeople don't think of certain stages as being different events - for example, qualifying often happens as part of the cold call, the sales presentation or both - but each of these stages is, in fact, necessary to advance the sales process.

In order to succeed in sales, you need to master each one of these stages. If you're weak in one or more areas, you might survive as a salesperson but you won't thrive. Most salespeople are chronically weak in one or two areas, and you'll need to identify those weak points and keep improving them in order to improve your sales results.

1
Prospect for Leads

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Prospecting refers to the process of finding new potential customers. Your company might take care of the first part of this process by giving you lead lists to work with, or you might be responsible for finding leads yourself. More

2
Set an Appointment

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It's time to use those leads you collected in stage 1. Many salespeople prefer to cold call over the phone, but you can also call in person, send email, use social media or even mail out sales letters. Whatever method you use to set appointments, you'll usually want to set one up face-to-face rather than sell over the phone. More

3
Qualify the Prospect

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The qualification stage usually takes place at the appointment itself, although you can also qualify briefly during your initial contact. The idea is to confirm that your prospect is both able and potentially willing to buy your product (BEFORE you spend a lot of time trying to pitch to him). More

4
Make Your Presentation

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The presentation is the core of every sales cycle, and it's probably where you'll invest the most preparation time. Keep in mind that you're not just selling your product... you are also selling yourself as a person to trust. You represent your company, so appearance counts. More

5
Address the Prospect's Objections

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Here's where you get to deal with your prospect's concerns. Objections can actually be a positive sign, since they mean that your prospect is at least considering buying or he wouldn't be bothering to work out the potential problems.  More

6
Close the Sale

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Once you've made your presentation and answered your prospect's questions and objections, it's time to ask for the sale. This is the second-most neglected stage of the sales cycle... which is especially sad given that it's one of the most important steps. Even highly interested prospects will rarely close themselves. More

7
Ask for Referrals

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This is hands down the most commonly neglected step. Too many salespeople are so relieved to get a sale that they grab their things and race out the door the second they get the chance, for fear the prospect will change their mind! More

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