The sales cycle begins the moment a customer walks in the door of your store or office, or first makes contact with you by telephone or e-mail. What you do next determines whether they will continue or discontinue communicating with you.
Below are the four stages of a sales cycle, and tips on how to maximize your effectiveness at each stage.
Greet your customer with enthusiasm. She is taking the time to meet with you. Let her know you appreciate her initiative. Make the effort to stand up and walk to where she is. Seat yourself after she has been seated. If possible, offer her coffee or water. She is watching you, and developing her first impression.
Identify the customer’s real needs.
The customer is there because she has a need. Take the time to explore what that need is. She wants to know whether you care about her need and if are there to help.
Asking questions is a good way to establish exactly what your customer needs. Do not assume you know what the need is, even if your meeting is for a specific purpose. For example:
Imagine you are a financial sales agent and your customer tells you she is coming in to take out a loan for $20, 000. Do not assume she needs a loan for $20,000. Ask more questions.
- You: “I understand you would like to take out a loan for $20,000. I could offer the best terms if I could know what the loan is for?”
- Client: “To develop my basement.”
This opens the door for you to ask more questions such as “What are your long-term financial goals?” This type of questioning allows you to establish what the actual need is. If you give her a loan for $20,000, you are giving her what she asked for, but not necessarily fulfilling her need. The loan rate may be eight percent; however, she may have enough equity in her home to borrow the $20,000 at a much lower rate.
This stage of the sales cycles is all about understanding your customer’s core need, and look for ways to identify and explore other needs. This gives the customer confidence that you know what you are doing, and that you want to help her.
Explain your product.
Explain to your customer why your product is the best product, especially if you are trying to sell her something different than what she asked for. She is looking for clarification and answers to her problem.
This stage of the sales cycle should not be overlooked or your customer can go away confused and worried that she did not get what she wanted. Give the benefits as to why this product will provide the solutions she is looking for.
Close the sale.
The customer is looking for closure, so ask for the sale. “Does this sound good to you?” Or, “Will this satisfy your needs?” You need to be sure that this is what your customer is looking for and do not hesitate to ask for her business. After all, that is why she took the time to see you.
Understanding the sales cycle is important to meeting your customer’s needs. Be sure to take the time to respect their time.