The 3 Most Important Stages of the Sales Cycle
Though there are many unique interpretations of the details of a sales cycle, the general principles are quite universal. A typical sales cycle consists of the following stages: lead prospecting, initiating contact, qualifying the lead, presenting the offer, overcoming objections, closing the sale, and generating referrals. While every stage in the sales cycle is crucial for a successful sales model, we’ll focus on what some believe to be the 3 most critical stages that warrant extra care and attention.
1. Presenting the Offer
While all stages of the sales cycle have their own purpose, this is the moment of truth. This is the moment where all the preparation will be tested. This stage is crucial because there’s only one chance at presenting the offer successfully. If the presenter exposes any doubt, any hint of unpreparedness, or any misrepresentation, the lead can withdraw into oblivion, never to be seen again. In this stage, choosing the correct type of bait is critical.
2. Overcoming Objections
This stage is almost as crucial as the presentation stage because it involves just as much grit, if not more. The lead has shown genuine interest, but still has some legitimate questions that 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, while 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. Answer their questions truthfully, but be persistent in your engagement. One important 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 performed 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 which lake to fish in. It would be a bad idea to fish for bluefin tuna in a freshwater lake or rainbow trout on a deep-sea barge. The better your understanding of the lead and their profile, the better you can prepare for the offer presentation. It is important to observe that the final referral stage after a sale has been made, bleeds into the prospecting stage once again. It is called a sales “cycle” after all. With a successful close, a new 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 the very purpose of the cycle. But the reason that I didn’t include it is that 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 might as well 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 to 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-functioning unit.