In a nutshell
Don’t lie: every business leader’s goal is to increase revenue. There is nothing wrong with that. But to do so, you need to have a clear definition of your sales cycle in mind. It is essential to follow a process that takes the potential buyer from discovery to the closing of the deal.
Sales cycles vary in length from one company to another, but the important thing is that the potential customer goes through the 7 stages of the process as quickly as possible. Indeed, one of the main goals of the sales cycle is to speed up the sales process.
• Identification: This is the beginning of the sales cycle. It consists of looking for possible leads through a variety of tactics: live meetings at industry events, social media or website analysis, referral marketing, and so on. It is the most difficult and deceptive phase.
• Compatibility: Once the target audience has been identified, it is necessary to confirm its compatibility with the ideal customer concept. This can be done by establishing an initial testing contact, either automatically (e-mail or cold calling) or on a personalized basis.
• Analysis: If the customer is a “qualified” contact, conduct in-depth research to understand needs, expectations, budget, etc.
• Presentation. Demonstrate the product as the ideal solution to the customer’s needs.
• Overcoming objections: Leads will evaluate the offer and, most likely, explicit doubts and concerns. The sales team must be prepared to respond accurately both communicatively and in terms of resources.
• Closure: Once the obstacles have been overcome, it is time to close the deal and turn the potential customer into an actual buyer.
• Follow-up: Once negotiations are closed, look for new clients, reach out to current clients or missed buyers. Timely follow-up is a most useful weapon to increase sales.
sales cycle vs. sales funnel
They might be confused as the same topic, but there is a subtle difference. The sales cycle is a process that the company must follow to attract the greatest number of customers and increase sales, always starting from a reduced if not absent base. The sales funnel, on the other hand, assumes that the company will attract many leads, which will decrease at each stage of the funnel until only a fraction of them turn into actual buyers. Sales funnels are, usually, a simple way of analyzing contacts, processes, and sales data. They are not a concrete strategy like the sales cycle, because the ball is in the customer’s court, not the company’s.
• Sales: The sales cycle is a model for companies to understand, clarify and improve the overall sales experience and accompany old and future customers one stage after another
• CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The sales cycle can intersect with CRM strategies to gain insights regarding user preferences and, as a result, personalize the buying experience, increasing the odds of closing the deal.
• Marketing: Through the measurement of certain KPIs – for example, Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rate, Deal Won-Deal Lost Ratio – you can also improve strategies that lead to a faster realization of the sales cycle.
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