A sales cycle is the process that your company undertakes when selling a product or service to a customer and many companies use a sales process in order to close deals, the following are sales stages an agency can use in order to close deals.
Prospecting: Find Your Dream Client
Prospecting is the first step in the sales process as one looks at their target customer profiles, identifying potential clients for contact, and considering the best way to approach them. Always take time by doing thorough research on your target customer.
The prospecting stage can broken down to:
- Creating and Using an ICP
Start by creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) which gives you a laser focus and can uncover new insights for your sales campaign, it also helps in knowing whom you are contacting and why you are contacting them. The ICP will be a fictional company (based on real data) that:
Represents companies who both offer you great value (in terms of revenue, influence, etc.) and receive great value from you (usually in terms of ROI, improved service, etc.).
- Identifying Potential Leads
Once you have an ICP to work from, you can begin generating a database of potential leads who match that profile, finding those companies will depend on your specific requirements, but possibilities include social media (such as LinkedIn) and online databases (such as Crunchbase). Once those ideal companies have been found, compile a list of the individual prospects at those companies for your sales team to contact and qualify.
- Initial Qualification
Even when working from the best ICP, you’ll still need to qualify your individual prospects and look into additional qualifiers depending on the unique requirements, such as company size, growth, geography, and so on. Speak directly with your prospect to fully qualify them.
Make Contact: Reach Out and Say Hello
This stage deals with finding time to reach out and build a connection with the client
This stage is broken down into two distinct steps:
- Identifying the Best Method
Maybe they’re particularly active on a specific social network, or they’re only reachable by phone. Maybe cold email is the best method, or an old-school postcard is needed to stand out from the competition. Perhaps you’re just not sure which means of communication is right for your ICP. As a general rule, phone calls are recommended unless there is no other option.
The best time to send emails is usually between 8 am-10 am and 3 pm-4 pm. During these times, people usually aren’t at their busiest, and might be checking email to wind up or wind down. Other means of reaching out with connection requests on LinkedIn, but if the contact is inactive, doesn’t respond to connection requests, or isn’t even on the platform, even the most original, clever outreach message may as well be smoke signals.
They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression. When you finally reach out, it’s important to have your objective clearly in mind. In most cases, this will not be “making a sale”. The higher your price point, the less likely someone is to buy from your initial outreach efforts, whatever its form. Instead, use your outreach to introduce yourself, to build trust, and ultimately start a conversation. The sale comes later.
Qualify Your Prospect: Learn About Their Goals and Challenges
Qualifying your lead is your chance to learn more about your target prospect by striving to understand their goals, challenges, budget, and other important decision-making factors. This stage is also essential to establish that you’re speaking with the right decision-maker and to identify opportunities where you can offer high value (as per your ICP).
Avoid wasting time and team resources by communicating this concern to them. They’ll either appreciate your honesty, or you’ll learn a new detail about why they’re still interested in hearing more. Talking directly with a prospect is the best way to be certain they are the right prospect for you.
Nurture Your Prospect: Be a Reliable Resource
Now it’s time to prove your relevance to your prospect. Prepare yourself to answer key questions about your unique offers and benefits, as well as what problems you can solve for them. One can nurture their lead at this stage. Even without objections, most prospects will need some kind of nurture sequence. You’ll still need to build trust, and the best way to do that is offer consistent value.
Nurturing leads involves educating them about the general product, service, or industry, personalising your communication, and addressing common challenges. While nurturing, you’re working to establish a reputation for being helpful, responsive, and a reliable resource in your area of expertise.
Present Your Offer: Provide Them a Solution
So far, the cycle has focused on your prospect. You’ve met them where they are, learned about their needs, and educated them on their questions and concerns. It’s time to take all that knowledge and present the best possible offer you can. Keep your offer relevant, targeted, and personalised to the needs you previously discussed. Connect your offer to their challenges, budget, and long-term ambitions. Finally, think about creative ways of presenting your services and packages.
Overcome Objections: Justify How Your Offer Is Their Best Option
Information, support have been provided including the best possible offer. Now, the ball is in your prospect’s court. Usually, they return with an objection to your offer. The most common objections include price vs. value, risk, content of the offer, contract terms, and more.
It’s best to try to handle these objections early, like in the nurturing phase. But sometimes it’s just not possible to handle them ahead of time. Be patient and empathise with their concerns when responding as no one needs to be rushed or pressured. Make sure that you handle objections that relate to each other, as well. For example, if your lead is concerned with price, make sure they understand exactly what’s included in your offer.
Once you’ve offered an explanation, ask them to confirm that you’ve handled their objection.
Close the Sale: Thanks for Doing Business
The closing the sale stage is separated into two steps:
- Sealing the Deal
If the prospect matches your ICP, you’ve reached out in a way that suits them, and you’ve demonstrated value, then hopefully they’ll be eager to buy. Do not feel the need to “trick” them into buying, but even a perfect prospect may require a nudge before making their decision. The key is to make it easy for them to say “yes” and closing the sale.
There are a variety of great ways to close the sale, ranging from indirect
“Are you happy with the features in this particular package?” to the direct “Would you like to go ahead and sign up now?”.
You can also introduce other factors, such as:
Urgency/scarcity (“The price goes up at midnight”)
Including a free trial (“Why not try it out for a week and see how you get on?”)
Once you’ve closed the deal and gotten their commitment, stick around to answer any remaining questions and provide them with clear next steps.
If you’re having an in-person meeting, offer to send a summary email to them and their assistant or superior that reviews your conversation and agreement.
Finally, even with your best efforts, factors outside your (or the prospect’s) control may mean the answer is “Not yet.” In this case, the best thing you can do is add them to a nurture campaign regularly following up with any prospects who aren’t yet ready to say yes. You could also use this as an opportunity to reach out to additional contacts within the same company.