The Sales Cycle – Part 1

Here, let me show you. Do it this way. Just get on and ride – it’s easy, really.

Ever hear those words when you were a kid? Yep, so did I.

Many of us recall our first tentative attempts a riding a bicycle, and it wasn’t all that easy in the beginning. And everyone seemed to have his or her opinions and ideas on how you should to do it.

First the initial, wobbly attempts with bruised shins, skinned knuckles and elbows, followed by more helpful suggestions from a father, mother, brother or a friend. Then more practice, and then finally it got to the point where magically it all came together. You could just get on and ride.

And what do you know; at that point, it really was easy after all. What a sense of accomplishment – you finally did it! You were now part of that select group of kids who “knew how to ride the bike.”

All the talking about it, watching others do it, listening to suggestions on how operate the pedals, maintain the balance or steer were of no use whatsoever until you got on the bike and figured it out for yourself. Only then did it all make sense.

But once you did it, you never forgot how to do it, did you?

So it is with sales.

Dick Costolo, a University of Michigan graduate, who became CEO of Twitter in 2010, agrees.

The key is to just get on the bike, and the key to getting on the bike… is to stop thinking about ‘there are a bunch of reasons I might fall off’ and just hop on and peddle the damned thing. You can pick up a map, a tire pump, and better footwear along the way.”

But listening to experts tell you about the only way to make the sale, attending feel-good seminars, imitating what works for others, memorizing canned scripts designed guaranteed to make a sale may be a good start, but they will not teach you what you need to know.

Why? Because selling is not a “one size fits all” type of operation. One method will not work for everyone any more than just studying the manufacturers instructions will teach you how to ride a bicycle.

Although focusing solely on the mechanical aspects of selling may help you develop your technique, this will do nothing to help you master of the basics of selling.

You can read the books and listen to lectures endlessly on how some expert du jour became a success in selling, but still come a cropper (suffer some misfortune) when it comes to actually applying the materials in the real world.

In sales you have to be able to think and listen at the same time; you have to read people accurately and respond accordingly; you must be able to operate on instinct to react at a moment’s notice to sustain momentum and interest, all the while maintaining the ability to be logical, passionate and convincing at the same time.

Yes, techniques are important; but they are just a requirement of the profession.

To win consistently, you also must know the more basic elements of the profession: you must understand people.

Competing in this game of selling requires two things:

  1. A working knowledge of the natural laws of selling.
  2. A mastery of the methods necessary to implement them.

This is what will put you in a position to correct and adjust your own game as necessary in the real world of selling to people.

Sound good?

Okay. Next we’re going to take a close look at basic selling and a practical definition of selling that you can put to use instantly.

Basic Selling

To begin, we need to agree on a couple of basic concepts for the activity we’re involved in.

The practical definition of selling must include these two parts:

a) Selling is the human activity of bringing about the willing exchange of something of value for something else that is wanted or needed.

b) It is accomplished by the use of communication designed to enhance the individual and mutual benefit of everyone involved.

Per this definition, it’s obvious that any sales event that deteriorates into forcing the customer, by bullying domination or intimidation to get them to buy, does not fit the definition of selling as above and will always give you a bad result.

Selling is a process by which you cause a series of actions to occur.

The process begins with locating, contacting and qualifying a prospect, then orienting them to your solution, ultimately bringing them to an understanding of how they would benefit by using your product or service, and ending with the close of a transaction wherein money or its equivalent is received in fair exchange for services, goods or property; all while maintaining a pleasant, professional relationship with the customer.

Selling is not a static, motionless activity. It involves action and interaction – it means causing things to happen proactively, not just waiting for something to come to you.

It includes actively contacting and engaging another person with live (not canned) communication to discover what they need and want that you can provide or help them achieve so that the bulb of enlightenment goes off in their heads. Which is the time when they will be the most likely to move ahead to close the deal.

The “sales cycle,” is the term I have coined to describe the complete process of the sale, from the very beginning through the middle stages and on to the close. Once it has been completed, the “sales cycle” starts all over again at the beginning, just like pedaling a bicycle. This is really what “basic selling” is all about, and it’s as easy as riding a bike once you get the hang of it.

Each one of the steps in the sales cycle must be fully completed before moving on to the next. Just like climbing a set of stairs, you cannot take a fifth step before you take the fourth. You just take them one at a time with the confidence that you’ve completed the one you’re on before moving on to the next one.

Each target or step has a defined purpose, as well as a beginning, middle and an ending.

An understanding of each step combined with a working knowledge of how to apply each one will enable any salesperson to estimate where he/she is in the overall cycle and adjust accordingly.

Part 2 will introduce the visible and invisible elements of selling.

daniel w. jacobs
© 2002-2030, all rights reserved

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