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What is a Sales Cycle

“Sales Cycle” refers to the specific actions salespeople follow to close a new customer. Sales cycles are often confused with sales methodologies. A sales methodology, such as the “inbound sales methodology,” refers to the framework for implementing the sales cycle. The sales cycle is more tactical, and often includes stages such as “prospect,” “connect,” “qualify,” “present,” and “close.”

Sales Cycles

To understand a sales cycle, you must understand the stages it’s comprised of. Here’s a breakdown of each one.

1. Prospect

Scour LinkedIn, check for relevant news stories, and find potential referrals. Prospecting isn’t the most glamorous part of sales, but it’s arguably the most important. In this stage, you’ll identify sales qualified leads (SQLs) and fill your pipeline with prospects who are potentially a good fit for your product/service and who might be interested in hearing what you have to say.

2. Connect

Once you’ve identified prospects, it’s time to make contact. Ask for a mutual acquaintance to introduce you, engage with your prospect on social media like LinkedIn or Twitter, or if neither of these options are available, make contact by email and/or phone.

Introduce yourself, share the value of what you have to offer, and ask if they’d be interested in learning more.

For example, you might call a prospect and say, “Hi [Prospect name]. My name is [Your name], and I’m with [Company name]. Is [pain point] a problem for you? I help companies like yours [insert value you offer], and I wondered if I may be able to do the same for you. Is this something you’d like to learn more about?”

3. Qualify

When your prospect is interested in learning more, it’s time to set up a discovery or qualifying call. You’ll learn more about their business, their problems, the impact of not solving these problems, and your ability to meet those needs.

Some discovery calls will end with you realising that you’re not a good fit. Others will give you the insight to make a strong case for their adoption of your product/service.

4. Present

Now it’s time to present and explain the value you provide. This may be based on a standard template you use but it should always be customised for each prospect’s unique business needs, but above all, it MUST focus on the commercial value that you deliver, NOT simply the features and benefits of your product or service.

5. Close

It’s likely you’ll have next steps to follow up on after the presentation. You might need to address a prospect’s objections or, for larger prospects, talk to their legal or IT departments on logistical details. Once you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to “close”, in other words, asking for the order.

If they say, “Yes,” send a formal proposal or contract and send it over for final review and signing.

If they say, “No,” you might have to address further objections or walk away from their business for the moment.

Sales Cycle Management

Sales cycle management is how salespeople, managers, and leaders keep track of each stage of the sales process. They identify trends and determine which steps of the process are doing well or need to be improved.

If you’re a salesperson or sales leader, sales cycle management allows you to evaluate the stages of the sales cycle to see where improvements or adjustments need to be made. Tools, like CRM, are invaluable in keeping on top of sales cycle management.

Sales cycles are a pivotal part of every salesperson’s day. It’s essential that you’re completely familiar with the cycle you and your team use, and use it methodically.

Is your sales cycle working for you? If not perhaps we can help.