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The 7 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.

In order to succeed in sales you need to master each one of these stages. If you're weak in one or more areas, you might survive as a salesperson but you won't thrive.

1. Prospect for Leads

Female shop assistant using telephone behind counter in art shop
Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You can't prospect effectively without knowing all about your product(s). If you don't understand the product, how could you know who will want to buy it?

2. Set an Appointment

It's time to use those leads you collected in stage 1. Many salespeople prefer to cold call over the phone, but you can also call in person, send email or even mail out sales letters.

3. Qualify the Prospect

The qualification stage usually takes place at the appointment itself, although you can also qualify briefly during your initial contact. The idea is to confirm that your prospect is both able and potentially willing to buy your product.

4. Make Your Presentation

The presentation is the core of every sales cycle, and it's probably where you'll invest the most preparation time. Keep in mind that you're not just selling your product... you are also selling yourself! You represent your company, so appearance counts.

5. Address the Prospect's Objections

Here's where you get to deal with your prospect's concerns. The one you'll hear most often? “I have to think about it.”

6. Close the Sale

Once you've made your presentation and answered your prospect's questions and objections, it's time to ask for the sale. This is the second-most neglected stage of the sales cycle... which is especially sad given that it's probably the most critical one.

7. Ask for Referrals

This is hands down the most commonly neglected step. Too many salespeople are so relieved to get a sale that they grab their things and race out the door the second they get the chance, for fear the prospect will change their mind!

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