How to Define Your Sales Process Stages

I sat staring at the Dun & Bradstreet printout. It listed information for all the prospects in my California territory including the company name, revenue figures, address, telephone number and, of course, the decision maker’s name and title. After all, that’s what they beat into our heads during the intensive five-week training program I’d just completed: Go for the decision maker.The training program, called Professional Selling Skills, took a then-new consultative approach to sales. The seminar instructed us on all things related to the “sales process” and its associated stages — such as qualifying prospects, defining needs, understanding buying patterns, overcoming objectives, presentations, developing listening skills (which my wife will say I’ve never really mastered), establishing value-added quantification in relationship to ROI, effective follow up … the list goes on.A lot has changed since then — or has it? It’s much easier now to find out what you need to know about a prospect or a client. But although sales terminology might have changed, the basic principles of the selling process haven’t changed that much.While every business is different, most follow a progression with comparable sales stages. I think of it as a continuum that starts with business development and ends with revenue generation. And it’s true for new business acquisition as well as expansion of existing business.

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