Sales process and sub-goals
The sales process or sales cycle is flow of events and sub-goals which resembles the climbing of a huge mountain. These sub-goals are in-between successes – like reaching the camps on the mountain.
Although the entire sales cycle is one process, it has been chucked up into several stages just for administrative reasons:
– Initial contact
– Lead stage
– Prospect stage
– First meeting stage
– Qualified prospect stage
– Follow-up meeting stage
– Proposal stage
– Negotiation stage
– The close
– The deal transaction
– The retention stage
Of course the most important stage is when the invoice gets paid !
No single sales cycle will go through these stages perfectly as there always will be deviations or retreats in the process.
Sales process stages characteristics
Although many steps have been defined with sub-goal achievements:
– None of these steps are equal
– The efforts required reaching each of the sub-goals are not equal
– The time required for each step may differ enormously: some can happen immediately others can take weeks, months, …
– It is the buyer who dictates the speed of the sales process
– The required participation or involvement of the potential customer is not equal neither
Synchronizing sales- and buyer process
This last one is most important as the sale needs a customer going through his buying cycle at the same time as the salesman. The salesman cannot move ahead without the buyer.
In real life no two processes will ever synchronize, there will be discrepancies between the efforts on the sales side and the efforts made or lacking efforts on the buyer side. Hence moving through the sales cycle stages can be painstaking slow.
A sales cycle can only move ahead if both the salesman and the potential customer reach the next sub-goal together. Both have to be involved and engaged.
Leader of the sales process
As the sales cycle should be compared to climbing a steep mountain with the salesman as the leader of the climb. In some cases important sales the sales manager takes the lead although he is not entirely involved in the process but involves and manages reaching the sub-goals. Still it is possible that during some stages the lead or prospect actually takes the lead in the climb as he is under pressure of getting a solution in place.
Retrograding sales process
However whenever there is a problem or an unexpected event occurs or new information comes to the deal, the climb can become a descend instead. This can happen it is required to have an assessment or aggregation at a previous stage.
In such case the prospect retrogrades or moves back to a previous stage, more work and effort lies ahead for the salesman or sales team. In most cases such a retrograding is due to one of the competitors.
The amount off effort the salesman then has to generate and put into the sales process can be huge as it will can stop the sales process for the vendor company.
Customer effort indicator
The best indicators of the commitment of the potential customer to buy is the amount of effort, time and interest the potential customer puts into his buying process.
In order to measure the commitment of your leads, prospects, potential customers and customers all companies should implement a website visitor revealing solution as in all cases people will visit your website. These solutions allow to retrieve and measure from your company website the amount of interest generated by the potential customer as they visit your company website for gathering additional information or want to verify your statement made during sales pitches and conversations.
How do you measure the involvement of your potential customers ?