The 7 most important stages of the sales process are:

  1. Preparation & Research
  2. Prospecting
  3. Needs Assessment (Discovery)
  4. Pitch/Presentation
  5. Objection Handling
  6. Closing
  7. Follow-Ups, Repeat Business & Referrals

Sometimes, these stages differ, though. Different industries and even similar businesses may use five or nine steps instead.

Each step in a sales process may consist of several separate selling activities.

An effective sales process is:

  • Customer-centric. Buyers are more empowered, better informed and have wider options than in the past. Smart businesses align their sales processes with this new reality.
  • Clearly defined. To be effective, each stage and element in your sales process must be well understood by all stakeholders.
  • Replicable. Every rep should be able to replicate all the steps in the sales process without confusion.
  • Predictable. The flow and expected outcomes in your sales process should follow a predictable pattern.
  • Goal-oriented. A sales process focuses on improving your ability to meet specific objectives (e.g., drive revenue growth, achieve process efficiencies, etc).
  • Measurable. All the activities in your sales process should be quantifiable, so you can measure success and improve.
  • Adaptable. A sales process must be flexible enough to accommodate changing business climates, tech integrations, or changes in your sales operations.

A good sales process also aligns with your ideal buyer’s purchasing journey, instead of focusing on what the seller needs.


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