The 7 most important stages of the sales process are:
- Preparation & Research
- Needs Assessment (Discovery)
- Objection Handling
- 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.