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An Intro to the 7-Step Sales Process

by Olufisayo
sale-process

Open a textbook on sales and you are likely to find some riff on the 7-step sales process. Sometimes it’s an “8-step method”, other times it’s a  “6-stage Sales Solution”, but whatever it is called, it usually follows the same general pattern, moving from the leads stage all the way through to the after-sale follow up.

Most sales teams that use a sales recruiter and therefore staff professional salespeople have their own 7-step process, each employing their own unique terminology, and so you find as many variations of the process as there are sales teams to use it. But here is, quite possible, the most basic of the 7-step processes, a stripped down intro to this fundamental concept of sales.

sale-process

Prospecting/Qualifying

The first step involves tracking down leads, and determining whether they want or need your product(s) and whether they can afford what you sell. You look for leads, but you approach prospects – there is a crucial distinction. A lead is a potential customer, that, when qualified (that is, established to be willing and able to buy) becomes a prospect.

Researching

Some put the research step after the approaching step (wrong, in this author’s opinion). Others don’t even call it researching – they call it pre-approaching (that’s fine). Whatever it’s called and wherever it lands, it is an all-important step, where you collect as much relevant information as you possibly can on a candidate. This helps you determine their current problems, which in turn helps you craft your pitch and value proposition.

       

Approaching

Historically in-person, increasingly over the phone or email, approaching is where you make contact for the first time with a prospect. Choose the method of reaching out that is appropriate to the prospect (i.e. an email may be fine for a tech startup but not for a mom and pop shop), and bear in mind that this is not a pitch. You are simply laying the groundwork.

Presenting

This is where you demonstrate your product’s value, and enumerate the ways in which it solves problems unique to the client’s company (notice you have swapped the word ‘prospect’ for ‘client’ now?). Really make them understand how your product will positively impact their day-to-day business.

presentation

Managing Objections

This step separates the dedicated from the undedicated; even in the face of multiple rejections, you as a salesperson have to practice how to manoeuvre around objections. Clients can remain interested even while rejecting you, and it is your job to offer further justifications for buying.

Closing

While you may now give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve closed a sale – your work is far from over. Your main concern now is client satisfaction, as that will be what solidifies them as a continuing client. You also have to be careful at this step not to come on too strong – a prospect on the fence can really balk at aggressive closing tactics.

       

Following Up/Generating Referrals

Finally, you check in with the client to gauge their satisfaction, form an ongoing relationship and, perhaps in time, generate referrals.

Now that you have been introduced to the general 7-step sales process, you are free to make any small adjustments so that it works for you. After all, despite what a process like this might indicate, sales isn’t a formulae.

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