The sales cycle is probably the most important part of a business cycle. You can be a master in lead generation however, if you don’t turn those leads into paying customers, you might as well call it a hobby instead of a business.
If you look up the web, you’ll find all kinds of business and sales cycles. Some of them will be very theoretical, others will have a long list of steps to follow and implement, whereas others will cause you to procrastinate by simply looking at them.
Today I’d like to share with you a simple sales cycle that you can put into practice right away to increase your top line. This is not a fancy sales cycle that will get your head spinning, nor is it sophisticated. It’s an actionable, step-by-step process that encompasses the main building blocks of a successful deal.
Step #1: LEADS
The first step in the sales cycle is to get a lead. So how can you onboard leads?
If you’re old school than you’ll run ads on TV and radio. If you’re new school, you’ll do Google AdWords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads or other XYZ ads along with some organic strategies such as email opt-ins for example.
The most important step at this moment is to get relevant and quality leads as this will make it a lot easier going forward. You can do this by targeting web visitors, building custom audiences and lookalike audiences and running ads to a group of people who share similar interests. This implies you harnessing the power of all the different targeting options that are made available by the social networks mentioned above.
Before we move to step number two, I’d like to point out the following:
Unfortunately, most companies (both corporations and small businesses) fail because they stop after this step. They pour a ton of money into advertising to get all these leads yet they don’t convert them into customers.
One last note: Every now and then, you’ll be able to bypass all the upcoming steps by literally meeting somebody at a conference for example (a stranger) and converting that person into a customer right there on the spot. It happens rarely but it’s possible.
Step #2: QUALIFY (PROBLEM)
Once you have a lead, you’ll need to grab the attention aka interest of that lead before you can move him/ her into the qualifying stage.
Yes, I bypassed this step on purpose and the reason why I did so, is due to all the resources you can find online or on this blog that teach you how to deploy all kinds of marketing and sales strategies to win the battle for attention.
Therefore, the next step is to qualify the lead. This requires you to call the lead, write an email or meet up in order to find out the kind of problems they have. You need to know what frustrates and keeps them awake at night. You need to find out why they left their previous supplier for example and what exactly it is that they’re looking for now.
Once you know and understand the problems and challenges your lead faces, you can move onto step number three.
This is where you’ll understand why it’s important to build a list of quality and highly relevant leads. Because if they don’t have problems that you can solve, you’ve got the wrong leads.
Step #3: PROPOSAL (SOLUTION)
Now it’s time to bring the best out of you and present your bouquet of solutions. Sometimes you’ll be able to provide the same set of solutions to a group of people, whereas other times you’ll be well advised to personalize your offer and add an exclusive touch.
The more you know about your leads, the better you can prepare your proposal. Don’t be afraid to tweak and adjust if necessary, especially if you’re selling high-ticket products and services. Add bonuses, do cross sales and don’t shy away from introducing your upsells, too.
Step #4: CLOSE
This is where you close the deal and convert that quality lead into a customer. In case you can’t close, you move on to step five and follow up until you close.
Step #5: FOLLOW UP
Let’s say you closed the deal and converted a lead into a customer. Instead of letting them off the hook for good, this is where your follow-up system comes into play.
Ask your customers what they think about your products and services. If they have additional requests or questions, make sure you answer these promptly and properly.
Obviously, you can use this step as an ongoing circle by following up on a regular basis, thus giving the customer the opportunity to take you up on additional (further) offers. Your customer gets more of what he/ she wants and needs and you increase their lifetime value and loyalty. It’s a win-win.
Don’t Overcomplicate Your Sales Cycle
In business it all comes down to sales. It’s about putting all your attention and focus onto those two inches at the top of your balance sheet, your top line.
If your top line increases, you can hire more people, buy better tools, create additional products and services, and upgrade your systems. In return this will enable you to scale the business faster and reach your goals in a shorter period of time.
When you have money to reinvest into the business, you gain market share and decrease the odds of going out of business.
Selling is fun. It is an interaction between people who want to exchange something. Sometimes it’s a plain and simple transaction, other times it’s a dance.
Selling doesn’t have to be hard. It’s up to you to overcomplicate the whole process by disregarding the basics as in selling to the wrong people or selling the unsellable.
Stick to the fundamentals. Keep it simple and straightforward.
What does your sales cycle look like? Do you mix hard and soft selling or do you prefer to stick to one over the other? Why?