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Sales Career Advice # 4 Minimize

SALES JOBS, SALES CAREER, CAREER RESEARCH & CAREER SEARCH

What Does A Salesperson Do And What Is The Sales Cycle?

When deciding to make a career shift into sales, it is important for you to develop an understanding of what a sales person actually does.  The sales cycle is a great way of describing what a sales person does on a day to day basis. 

The sales cycle describes how a sales person actually makes a sale.  It is important to note that in business to business sales, the sales cycle does not begin and end with the one interaction with a customer.  It begins with research and can involve several ‘contacts’ over a period of time with a customer before a sale is actually made.

Selling is all about providing a customer with a product or service that they want or need, charging money for the transaction, and making a profit from that transaction. The process by which this is achieved is called the Sales Cycle. It is generally accepted that the Sales Cycle consists of the following:

  • Market Research – if you are working for someone else, much of the research about the market you are selling to has already been done for you.  You will usually be told what it is you are required to sell and where you are supposed to sell it.  Nonetheless, it is part of a salesperson’s job to monitor and gather information about the changing market and its needs.
  • Identifying Prospective Customers – It’s usually part of your job to identify a list of people you would like to talk to.  You will need to list which organisation they work for, what title they hold, and how to get in touch with them.  Almost all sales begin with a telephone call, which may or may not lead to arranging face to face visits.
  • Preparation – Before you start contacting customers, you will usually have some information available, such as past contact with the customer and information about their organisation.  You will need to prepare and write down what you are going to say to your customers. 
  • Introduction – Depending on whether or not you have talked to the customer before, during the introduction you name your contact, introduce yourself by name, your company and the nature of its business, and the purpose of the call. 
  • Questioning – All successful sales begins with an in-depth questioning procedure to help the sales person identify what the customer wants or needs.  Questions should be asked with genuine interest and warmth.  This is because customers will open up more to people who seem genuinely interested in them. 
  • Confirm your Understanding – Once you have ascertained your customer’s wants / needs, you should confirm that you have understood what they have told you.  This enables you to confirm that you have all the facts right, and it also reassures the customer that they are talking to a professional businessperson who has their best interests at heart. 
  • Selling the Product / Service – Once you have developed an understanding of what the customer wants / needs, and you have confirmed that this is so, you must decide whether or not your company has something that will help the customer. 
    1. If you do have something to help the customer, you need to explain exactly what it is that satisfies the customer’s want / need, and discuss the features and benefits of the product or service you are offering. 
    2. If you do not have something to help the customer, you should be providing some advice as to how the customer could find help. You will be more highly regarded by the customer if you help them to solve their problem rather than sell them something they don’t need.
  • Trial Close – When you feel that the customer is interested in your product or service, you should test their willingness to buy.  It may be that the customer immediately places an order with you, or they may have a few questions.
  • Overcoming Objections -   The customer may have several questions or objections about the product / service, such as its cost.  You have to address each of the customer’s objections, firstly by questioning the customer to understand exactly what their point of view is.  Then you must carefully explain your own perspective and how your solution can be viewed more positively. 
  • Close – If you have successfully overcome your customer’s objections, and the customer appears to want to buy from you, then you must ‘close’ the sale.  To close the sale, you need to gain the customer’s commitment to accept your product / service on the terms that you have both agreed to.  Once the sale has been agreed, you need to tie up all the loose ends such as delivery, price and payment.
  • Future Business – After the sale has been closed successfully, it can be useful to probe for future opportunities, and possibly promote other areas of your business.

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