From Lead Generation to Closing the Deal. Just about every company relies on sales for its survival and growth, regardless of industry. Sales are the lifeblood of any business, and lead generation is the first step in the sales process. The trouble is, not all leads are created equal. The top 5% of all leads account for more than 50% of sales revenue. So, how do you spot high-quality leads? How do you manage your sales cycle? And how do you ensure that every lead converts into a closed deal?
The answer lies in the sales cycle. Every company has one, from the smallest startups to the largest enterprise organizations. No matter the size of your company, you should be tracking a prospect’s journey from the moment they become aware of your offering to when they make the decision to buy. In this guide, we’ll walk you through every stage of the sales cycle, explaining what it is, why it’s important, and how to make sure that every lead becomes a customer.
By the end of this guide, you’ll understand what a sales cycle is and why it’s important. You’ll learn how to identify high-quality leads, determine the best time to engage with them, and finally, close the deal. Let’s get started.
What is a sales cycle?
A sales cycle occurs when a prospective customer becomes aware of your company’s offering, expresses interest, and finally decides to buy. The length of each stage varies, but each stage is necessary for the prospect to make a buying decision. Understanding your sales cycle and how prospects move through it will help you identify which leads are most likely to convert into customers.
The sales process can be broken into three distinct stages:
The first stage is lead generation, where you attract new prospects who may become future customers. Lead generation can occur in a variety of ways, but the most common include online advertising, direct marketing, and public relations efforts. The second stage is lead nurturing. Once you generate a lead, the next step is to nurture the relationship. This means staying in touch with the prospect, nurturing their interest in your company, and building trust. The final stage is lead conversion, where the prospect makes a buying decision and becomes a customer.
Each stage is crucial to the success of your business and requires careful planning, implementation, and monitoring. For example, without a healthy sales cycle, you’ll never be able to turn leads into customers and increase revenues. So let’s look at each stage in more detail.
#1. Lead generation
Lead generation is the first step in the sales cycle. At this stage, your goal is to attract new prospects who may become future customers. Lead generation can occur in a variety of ways, but the most common include online advertising, direct marketing, and public relations efforts. For example, if you operate a local business, you may pay for ads on Google or Facebook to attract more business. The goal of this type of advertising is to generate leads and increase traffic to your website.
Once a prospect visits your site, they may download a piece of content like an ebook or whitepaper. These are called lead magnets because they’re designed to draw prospects in and “magnetize” them to your business. For example, let’s say you own a local flower shop. You might offer a free guide to DIY wedding flowers to entice future brides to sign up for your newsletter. This way, when you publish an article about flowers for weddings, they’ll be more likely to click on your site and learn more about your services.
#2. Lead Nurturing
Once you generate a lead, the next step is to nurture the relationship. This means staying in touch with the prospect, nurturing their interest in your company, and building trust. The goal is to move the prospect from being interested in your company to actually engaging with you.
The easiest way to nurture a lead is through email marketing. By sending prospects educational
content, you can position your company as an expert in your industry. For example, if you run an SEO agency, you could send a blog post on SEO best practices to your prospects. You might also send them an ebook with tips for getting more traffic to their website. The key is to be helpful, not spammy. Prospects are more likely to engage with your company if they feel like they’re getting something in return for their time.
#3. Lead conversion
Lead conversion is where the prospect first decides to engage with your company. For example, you may send them a sample of your product or service for free. This is called a sample lead magnet or a lead magnet of some kind. Then, when the prospect permits you to contact them, they become a lead.
In many instances, you’ll need to collect contact information from the prospect in order to move forward. This is called a lead capture form, and it can be as simple as an email address or a more complex form. It’s essential that you collect contact information to move the prospect forward in their sales cycle. Without their contact information, you won’t be able to reach out to them and nurture the relationship.
A full-cycle sales process must back every effective marketing strategy. The sales cycle is a prospect’s journey from the first time they hear about your business until they purchase your product or service. Therefore, it’s important to understand how every part of the cycle works so you can create strategies that produce the best results. That’s why we put together this guide on the full sales cycle.
Think about the process a prospect goes through when they first hear about your business. This is called the awareness stage. This is where people learn about your brand and make you stand out from your competitors. Once you’re on their radar, they’ll want to get to know you a little better. Next, they’ll start to conduct research to find out more about you. That’s when they enter the evaluation stage. At this point, they’ll investigate how your product or service is different from your competitors’. The next stage is decision-making. This is when the prospect decides whether or not to make a purchase. Finally, there’s the post-purchase stage. During this stage, prospects will give feedback about your product or service and may even recommend you to other people. This is when you’ll learn about your customers and take the necessary steps to improve your business.
1. Awareness Stage
In this stage, a prospect will be exposed to something that gets them interested in your product or service. This could be an advertisement, a recommendation from a friend, a news article, or anything else that brings your business to their attention. The main goal of this stage is to get the prospect’s attention.
This stage is really important because it sets the foundation for the rest of the sales cycle. It’s not enough to get a prospect’s attention; you also want it to be positive attention. If you can make your brand stand out in a good way, you’ll have a lot more success in the next few stages of the sales cycle.
2. Evaluation Stage
Now that a prospect has been exposed to your business, they’ll want to find out more about you and your competitors. This is where your brand awareness strategy will come in handy. You’ll want to make an impression on them with your brand’s identity. You’ll also want to promote the unique benefits of your product or service. By now, the prospect should already be interested in what you have to offer. They’ll be doing research to find out more about you and your competition, and they’ll compare you to each other.
This stage is important because it’s when people start to evaluate their options. At this point, they’ll be able to compare you to your competitors and decide who they like better. You’ll want to make a good impression on them to keep them interested in your brand.
3. Decision-Making Stage
You’ve made an impression on the prospect, and they’re now interested in what you have to offer. Now it’s time for them to decide whether or not they want to take the next step and purchase your product or service. The decision-making stage is where you’ll show them why you’re the best option for them. Again, you’ll want to emphasize that your product or service is better than the competition by highlighting different features and benefits. By now, they should have a pretty good idea of what they want, so it’s time for you to close the deal.
4. Post-Purchase Stage
Now that someone has purchased your product or service, you’ll want to establish a relationship with them. This is where you’ll get the chance to show your prospects that you care about them as a customer. You can do this by offering them customer service, information about how to use your product or service, and other helpful content.
In this stage, it’s also important to find out what your customers think of your product or service. This will help you make improvements to your business and give you valuable feedback to learn from. You’ll also want to encourage customers to share their experiences with others so they can become brand advocates.
In part one of this article, we looked at the most important steps in the sales cycle as it pertains to sales leads. Now that you’re armed with this information, you can begin to tailor your sales approach to turn more sales leads into paying clients. In addition, now that you have a better idea of how the sales cycle works, you can put that knowledge to good use. Use the information in this guide to create a strategy that will help you generate more leads, close more sales, and engage your customers.