1. Industry
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://sales.about.com/od/salesbasics/

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Basics of the Sales Process

Empower yourself with the understanding of the basic sales process from start to finish. Learn tips and techniques that are easy to implement that will get you headed in the right direction for success.
  1. Sales is Service (5)
  2. Tom Hopkins Interview (10)

The Seven Stages of the Sales Cycle

No matter what you're selling, every sale follows roughly the same pattern. It's a rare sale that doesn't include each of these steps in one form or another.

Controlling Your Sales Cycle
Every sale goes through the same seven-stage cycle, from prospecting all the way through to asking for referrals from the new customer. But the length of this cycle can vary greatly depending on the product or service you're selling.

Tuning Up Your Sales Performance
You probably take your car in for tune-ups and maintenance on a regular basis. But do you do the same thing to your sales process?

13 Tips for Success
Becoming successful means different things to different people, but some factors are the same no matter what your situation.

7 Ideas for Smoother Selling
Developing your sales skills is the key to smoother selling. It allows you to maximize your results and convert more prospects into customers.

How to Outwit the Competition
Stop losing prospects to your competitors. You can train your prospects to appreciate your product's strengths while focusing on the competition's weaknesses.

Selling Value Over Price
Well-made products often cost more than their shoddier competition. Prospects know this, so selling a product that isn't the cheapest in your industry is a matter of demonstrating why your product is worth a little more.

Differentiating Your Product
You'll have a much easier time competing with salespeople from other companies if you can show prospects how your product is different - and better - than theirs.

6 Examples of Sales Differentiation
Do you know how to differentiate your product from the rest of the market? If not, perhaps these examples can help you get started.

Positioning Your Product
How you position your product will have a big effect on how your prospects and customers think of it. Positioning your product correctly can give you big advantage over the competition.

Types of Sales Differentiation
Do you use sales differentiation in your presentations? That's great, but you may not be using differentiation to full effect.

How to Be a Better Listener
Good listening skills can help in many areas of life, and sales is no exception. Be a better listener and you'll find you're a better salesperson as well.

The Four Pillars of Sales
Salespeople need certain kinds of support to thrive. Just handing a salesperson a phone and a list of leads isn't enough.

Adding Value at Different Levels
A value statement is not one-size-fits-all. Developing different value statements for different situations enables you to pique the prospects interest at various stages in the sales cycle.

7 Common Sales Mistakes
Are you making these common sales mistakes? No matter how good a salesperson you are, making one of these mistakes can destroy your chances of closing a sale.

How to Stay Positive
Salespeople often face stressful situations as part of the job - not to mention the personal stressors that everyone has to cope with. Yet it's important for salespeople to stay positive in order to appeal to prospects.

Building Trust with Tough Prospects
Tough prospects are slow to trust people, especially salespeople. It's impossible to build rapport with such prospects until you earn at least a small measure of trust.

Going Beyond Order-Taking
If all you do is take orders from customers, you're not a salesperson. A salesperson's job is to create new business. Yes, that's a lot harder than just taking orders, but creating new business is the whole reason for sales.

Beating the Sales Blues
If sales was easy, everyone would do it. Every salesperson goes through rough patches when things just seem to be going wrong. Here are some ideas on how to beat the sales blues and stay positive.

How to Add Value to Your Sales
Value-added selling is a powerful sales approach when used correctly. Here are some ways to add value to your sales.

When Following Up Becomes Stalking
Following up with prospects is a basic and necessary part of sales. But there comes a point when you cross the line between following up and stalking your prospect like they're your prey.

Sales Tips from a Marketing Master
Many of the basic Laws of Marketing apply to sales as well. Integrating those laws into the sales process can make a huge difference.

How to Be Likeable
Being likeable and easy to get along with will motivate prospects to buy from you. Incidentally, it'll also make getting along with other people much easier.

Writing a Powerful Sales Proposal
Writing a sales proposal is not a trivial task, but many large prospects insist on it. If you're going to invest so much time and effort, you might as well write a good one.

Handling a Price War
When you're competing with other providers over a single prospect, it almost always comes down to a price war. Learn how to emerge victorious WITHOUT giving the product away for cost.

To Bid or Not to Bid
When you get the opportunity to bid for a big chunk of business, it's pretty exciting. But don't let that opportunity blind you to the real story.

How to Sell Flawed Products
Every product has a problem. So while your products have their issues, your competitors' products also have issues. The trick is keeping your prospect's focus on the areas where your product is strong and the competition is weak.

A Sales Self-Assessment
How does your sales presentation sound? Do you deliver it with energy and enthusiasm, or do you sound like a brain-dead zombie? If you haven't changed things around recently, you may be drifting into zombie-dom without realizing it.

4 Attitudes That Will Cost You Sales
Mastering the basic sales skills isn't enough to make you a star salesperson. You also need to master the attitude of a true salesperson if you want to succeed.

Why Rapport Matters
Sales is often about creating a situation in which the prospect feels comfortable and safe. That means developing trust between prospect and salesperson in a very short time period. And that's where building rapport comes in.

Coping with Success
Being successful is highly dangerous. It can cause you to lose touch with the skills and qualities that made you successful in the first place.

7 Traits of Star Salespeople
What sets the top-tier salespeople apart from the rest? Star salespeople tend to share a few traits that help them to accomplish far more than the average salesperson can.

8 Tips for More Persuasive Writing
You've probably polished your speaking skills to a fare-thee-well, but have you neglected your persuasive writing skills? In the electronic age, writing well is more important than ever - especially in sales.

How to Write a Thank-You Note
Thank-you notes aren't just for friends and distant family members. Business thank-you notes can help you accomplish some amazing things.

Creating Prospect Confidence
If you want to build a positive relationship with prospects and customers, you need to develop a level of trust with them. The best way to do so is to be a trustworthy person.

6 Common Lies Prospects Tell
Prospects aren't always honest, especially to salespeople. Know what the most common lies are and you'll be ready to come back with a constructive response.

How to Sell at Full Price
Do you have a discounting habit? Do you offer prospects a lower price at the drop of the hat? Here's how you can break that habit and start making more profits off your sales.

4 Backwards Sales Principles
Many of the driving principles of sales don't make sense at first look. But once you consider things from a prospect's point of view, you can see that these backwards sales principles aren't really backwards at all.

How Email Can Expedite the Sales Process
Email can be a more powerful mode of communication than a phone call, especially if you run into a hitch during the sales process.

How Prices Work
Businesses in a capitalist economy don't have as much control over their prices as most people think. Prices are truly determined by supply, demand and the cost to manufacture the product.

Get Prospects to Return Your Calls
Do you find prospects dropping out of sight in the middle of the sales process? It's not an uncommon experience for salespeople.

Reducing Risk
If your prospects suddenly start dragging their feet at the end of the sales cycle, they're probably concerned about their level of risk.

Types of Professional Buyers
Each of the four main types of professional buyers calls for a different approach, so you need to identify your buyer's type early in the sales process if you want to succeed.

3 Ways to Build Rapport
Prospects won't buy from you unless they trust you enough to think that you're telling the truth about your product – namely, that the product will benefit them. Building rapport enables you to develop that level of trust between you and your prospects.

Becoming a Great Salesperson
Once you've reached the point of being a competent salesperson, there's no reason to stop there. Why not challenge yourself to become more? Start by setting a goal to be the best salesperson at your company. Once you've reached that point, keep going!

Selling Better than Your Website
Don't think of your company's ecommerce website as a competitor. It's just another tool to generate sales, and if you work with it instead of against it you can close more sales than ever before.

How to Design and Use a Business Card
A well-designed business card is a great way to pass your contact information along while at the same time presenting a professional image. Business cards are especially useful at sales events such as trade shows.

Selling During the Holidays
During the holiday season, non-retail sales tend to drop off because everyone is off celebrating their vacations. But that doesn't mean salespeople can't be active during that time. By shifting the focus of their activities, salespeople can prepare for a very merry post-holiday season.

Why Optimism Sells
A positive outlook on life will take you a lot farther in sales than a negative one. Prospects will be more likely to trust you, and you'll find your life as a whole runs more smoothly.

Sales Prospecting with AIDA
Many direct marketers tailor their packets to a hoary old formula known as AIDA. AIDA stands for “Attention-Interest-Desire-Action” and describes the possible states of mind for a prospective customer.

9 Communication Skills for Salespeople
Salespeople must have top-notch communication skills to survive, let alone thrive. Rate your communication skills by asking yourself these questions.

6 Prospect Negotiation Tactics
Some prospects, especially professional buyers, are incredibly clever negotiators. Such prospects have special negotiation tactics up their sleeves that salespeople find it difficult to resist.

Moving a Prospect Through the AIDA Process
AIDA is possibly the oldest selling process still in use today. For that reason alone, it's worth taking a look – salespeople wouldn't still be using it if it didn't work!

7 Negotiation Don'ts
Are you familiar with the do's and don't of negotiation? Every salesperson must be an effective negotiator.

3 Sneaky Negotiating Tricks
While you hopefully conduct negotiations in an ethical manner, some of the prospects you meet might be willing to use some pretty shady tactics.

The Importance of Being Ernest
A lot of people think that all salespeople are liars. Don't encourage this stereotype by proving them right!

Selling to a Buyer's Market
A buyer's market is one in which demand is low and supply is high. No one seems to be buying your product, and the few good leads that you can track down have already been pitched many times by your competitors (at absurdly low prices). Don't despair - there are ways to meet this challenge and sell successfully in the toughest marketplace.

Keeping Confidence Up Even When Sales Are Down
Your state of mind has a major effect on your success in sales (or lack of it). Developing an emotional bond of sorts with your prospects is a huge part of selling. If you're feeling anxious or you're convinced you're going to fail, prospects will notice it no matter how hard you try to fake an upbeat mood.

How to Handle Objections in Six Easy Steps
Most salespeople think of objections as a bad thing... but they're missing the big picture. If your prospect raises an objection, that's actually a good sign.

How to Negotiate
Negotiation skills are critical for salespeople, especially B2B salespeople who must work out deals with professional buyers. Knowing how to negotiate helps in other areas of life as well.

How to Get Sales Appointments
The #1 most common rookie salesperson mistake is trying to sell their product and close the prospect in a single cold call. When you pick up the phone and start cold calling, or walk into a neighborhood and start knocking on doors, the goal should almost always be to get an appointment with the decision maker.

When Your Quota is Out of Reach
When your sales quota deadline is almost upon you and you're way behind, there's only one way out – short-circuiting the normal sales cycle.

Time Objections
'I'll think about it' is one of the most common objections that salespeople hear. It's also one of the trickiest objections to handle successfully.

The We-Already-Have-One Objection
How often do you hear prospects say, "I'm not interested because we already have a supplier?" It's a common objection that you need to be prepared to resolve. Better yet, you can arrange events so it doesn't come up in the first place.

7 Business Uses for a Smartphone
Cell phones in general are extremely useful for salespeople, who often spend a lot of time on the road and value being able to stay in touch. Smartphones take this convenience a step further by enabling you to have access to a wide range of useful tools and information.

Types of Objections
There are plenty of objections that a prospect can throw at you over the course of the sales cycle. Every time you think you’ve heard them all and have the perfect responses prepared, your latest prospect will suddenly serve up a brand new objection and you’ll be left stuttering over your answer... only to think of the perfect response ten...

Quick Tip: Objections and Conditions
In sales terminology, an objection is a concern the prospect has about buying your product.

How to Write Sales Letters
Direct mail isn't dead as a sales technique, although some experts think it's headed that way. For the time being, a sales letter can be an excellent way to make prospects aware of and interested in your product.

What to Do When Prospects Try to Trick You
Your prospects will inevitably try to get the best deal they can from you. Unfortunately, a few prospects will play some pretty dirty tricks on you to get that deal. Here are a few prospect mind games to watch out for, and suggestions on how to handle them.

7 Steps of How to Become an Olympic Sales Champion
What are the seven steps to how to become an Olympic Athlete in Sales? Is there even such a thing as a Sales Olympian? Why not? Everyday we are all out on the sales playing field; challenging and disciplining ourselves by molding our minds and our talents to learning and using our best sales techniques and abilities. Why not push a little further and become the best of the best -- even a Sales Champion -- at what we do? Learn what the seven steps are to becoming an Olympic Athlete in Sales.

Selling Tip: Use the "Box-Step" Sales Technique as Part of Your Sales Strategy
A great selling tip for anyone selling primarily in a retail environment. If you ever have a customer that you've spent a lot of time with and just can't tell whether they are ready to buy or not, then check out this simple sales technique that you can quickly use to take your customer's temperature -- it works over ninety percent of the time to help close a sale!

Overcoming Objections -- Overcoming the 'I Have to Think About' Objection
How many times have you heard from your customers," I have to think about it"? There is a way of overcoming this objection with one very simple statement. Find our how in this quick tip!

Create Your Own Words and Phrases that Sell
The way we word things in our communication can make a huge impact on the listener. Find out how you can polish up the words and phrases that you now use to make them more appealing to the listener.

How to Sell Any Product
The basic rules of how to sell never change, regardless of what product or service you're selling. Break these sales rules at your peril.

Selling by Listening
The stereotypical salesperson talks all the time. If that’s how you sell, you’re missing out on significant opportunities.

Understanding The Product Creates Sales Success
Product knowledge is critical to sales. But too much product knowledge without product understanding usually just leads to a bad case of "expert-itis."

Choose Your Words Carefully
People like to feel comfortable. And they usually feel comfortable around other people who are like them. So it follows that, as a salesperson who is trying to build rapport with prospects, you'll want to match your word choice to your prospects.

Asking for Referrals
When you go on appointments, what percentage of your prospects do you ask for referrals? Hopefully, the answer is 100%.

How to Get Referrals
Referrals – otherwise known as getting someone to give you warm leads to new prospects – are valuable for salespeople in all industries. Yet it's incredible how few salespeople actively canvass for referrals.

Finding a Prospect's Pain Points
Find out what's worrying your prospect and you'll be able to grab his attention right away. And if you can cure that pain point with your product or service, you'll greatly increase your odds of closing that sale.

Crafting Memorable Messages
If you want prospects to listen to you you'll have to say something interesting - not interesting to you, interesting to them. Make your messages memorable and you'll have a much easier time convincing your prospects to buy.

Selling to the Pre-Educated Prospect
Prospects these days usually take the time to do research on your product long before they ever talk to you. You must be prepared for these pre-educated prospects.

Quick Tip: Identifying Referral Sources

Build a Winning Sales Presentation
By the end of your sales pitch, how many of your prospects are still listening? If your presentation follows the typical pattern, where you open by talking about your company, move on to talking about your products and perhaps close with a story or two about yourself, the answer is “few to none.”

17 Great Presentation Tips
According to psychologists, when most people are asked to rank their fears they put “fear of public speaking” above “fear of death.” In other words, if they're attending a funeral they'd rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy! Any time you make a presentation – whether it's to a prospective customer, the local Chamber of Commerce, or...

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.