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Stages of sales process

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Business Studies

When we enter the market as a prospective buyer, do we just talk to the seller and then buy the product? The process of sales is much more than just buying and selling. It involves other steps as well. There are many other pieces to consider, such as direct sales, indirect sales, face-to-face sales, or even virtual sales. Closing a sale needs a lot of planning and preparation.

Common belief dictates that if the specific stages of the sales process are followed, the chances of closing the sale at a higher rate are greater. We'll look at each part of the process in detail.

First, however, we need to define what the sales process is.

The sales process is a sequence of activities that are predefined to convert the potential customer into a buying customer. The process defines the journey of potential customers, from initial approach to closing the deal.

Figure 1 shows the various stages of the sales process. Now let's examine this in more detail.

Stages of sales process, the stages of the sales process, StudySmarterFigure 1. The Stages of the Sales Process

Prospecting - sales process and example

Prospecting is the first and most important step of the sales process. It involves finding potential customers and learning about their demands in regard to the product or service. The prospecting of sales can be done with the ‘Who/What/When/Why’ questions. Here are a few of the questions a company and/or organisation needs to answer to understand the requirements of customers for the sales of any goods and/or services.

  • What do customers need in terms of your product?

  • Where is the customer's location?

  • When will they need your product or services?

  • Who will need it?

  • Why will they buy your product or service?

  • How will they make the payment for your product or service?

These kinds of questions help organisations understand the needs of their customers. Also, companies can determine where the customer is based, their demographics, the urgency of need, the reason for buying, and affordability of the product.

The Gucci perfume brand tries to understand who will buy their product, in which area it will be in demand, affordability to the target group, etc. This research will help the organisation place their product where it is more likely to find its audience.

Preparation - sales process and example

The next stage after prospecting is preparation. In this stage, the organisation, or salesperson, prepares for the first contact with the customers after researching and understanding the needs of customers, their reason for buying, their logic, affordability for their products/services etc. At this stage, the sales preparation is done in terms of how to approach a customer or how to initiate the discussion with the customer as per their needs. The discussion may be altered from customer to customer or even situation to situation.

Once the customer prospecting is done by the organisation, the organisation will be able to prepare its sales professionals to target the given set of customers. Gucci perfume is not targeted at all kinds of customers and not everyone may be able to afford its products. The salesperson will be able to cater to the most prospective customers in an approachable manner as a result of their thorough training.

Sales process - approach

The next stage is the approach. This is the first time the organisation/salesperson has an interaction with the prospective customer. The interaction may be face-to-face, on the phone, or online. This is one of the most important stages in the sales process as the ‘first impression is the last impression’.

The same is true for the sales process. If the first meeting with the customer, or 'approach', goes well, the chances of a buying customer increase accordingly. However, if the customer is not happy with your approach, they may never come back.

The salesperson in the mall may gently approach a customer hovering around the perfume section. The salesperson may not directly tell the customer that they need to buy this perfume. Instead, they will politely ask the customer and try to understand the customer's needs, the price range they are looking for, and the reason for buying. On the basis of these questions, the salesperson will be able to decide if the customer will buy the perfume and whether they will be able to close the sale.

Sales process - presentation

Visuals play a vital role in explaining a concept. Similarly, in the sales process, presentation is crucial. This is the next stage in the sales process, which may involve a demonstration of the working product. Finding out the needs of customers and presenting potential solutions is also important at this stage. Doing your homework can help build the relationship with the prospective customer and nourish it for the long term.

Once the salesperson has been able to gauge all information about the customer, they may present a variety of perfume and fragrance options in the customer's price range or give an update of additional offers that may be available.

Sales process - handling objections

The next stage in the sales process is handling objections, though the need for this may vary on a case-by-case basis. Sellers must proceed carefully as this step may make or break the deal. All concerns and objections, as well as the background of the customer, need to be understood and addressed.

If the customer is not fully convinced that they should buy a perfume, they still have a chance of to make the sale by responding to their concern and questions in kind. For example, if a customer refrains from buying, the salesperson may try to understand what is stopping the customer from making a purchase. The customer may feel the product is going a bit beyond their budget expectations, so the seller may explain the benefits of a purchase or even offer a discount or less expensive option.

Sales process - closing

This stage occurs when a customer makes a purchase decision. Generally, if the above steps are followed, the customer may have already decided to buy the product or service. However, if there is still a concern, the salesperson may be able to close the sale by following this method:

  • Creating urgency close: Many sales are closed when urgency for the product or service is created. The salesperson may inform the customer about the limited availability at the given discounted price or create a need in the mind of the customer for the product on an immediate basis.

  • Alternative option close: The salesperson may also offer an alternative or substitute, which may match the customer's needs.

  • Additional offering close: When customers are offered an extra at the same price, the customer may choose to make a purchase. This option may involve offering an additional service, a warranty, an extra product or anything that may add value for the customer.

Sales process - follow-up

Last but not least is the follow-up process. It is very important to follow up with the customer to build a good relationship with them. Also, word-of-mouth helps in business, and if your relationship with customers is good, they will refer you to other potential buyers. Additionally, follow-up service helps retain customers for a long time and can possibly result in repeat sales or further business opportunities.

Sales may occasionally become very difficult with the high level of competition and the rate of change. Hence, it is very important to implement a solid sales process to close the deal. This is the basis for any kind of for-profit business; however, each organisation may tailor this process to cater to their target customers.

Stages of Sales Process - Key takeaways

  • The sales process is a sequence of activities that are predefined to convert a potential customer into a buying customer. From the approach to closing the deal, it defines the journey of potential customers.
  • Prospecting is the first and most important step of the sales process.
  • Finding the potential customer and understanding their demands for the product and the services is crucial and sellers often use ‘Who/What/When/Where/Why’ questions in this step.
  • In the preparation stage, the organisation or salesperson prepares for the first contact after researching and understanding the needs of the customers, their reason for buying, their logic, and the affordability of their products/services.
  • The approach stage is the first time the organisation/salesperson has an interaction with the prospective customer.
  • The presentation stage may involve a demonstration of the working product. It involves an understanding of the needs of the customers and presenting and discussing possible solutions with the customers.
  • The closing stage is when the customer makes the purchase decision.

Stages of sales process

Prospecting is the first and most important step of the sales process and means finding the potential customer and understanding their demands for the product and the services.

In this stage, the organisation, or salesperson prepares for the first contact with the customers after researching and understanding the needs of the customer, their reason for buying, their logic, affordability of their products/services etc. At this stage, the sales preparation is done in terms of how to approach a customer or how to initiate a discussion with the customer as per their needs. The discussion may be altered from customer to customer or even situation to situation.

Once customer prospecting is done by the organisation, it will be able to prepare its sales professionals to target the given set of customers. 

This stage is when the customer makes the purchase decision. Generally, if the correct steps are followed, the customer may have already decided to buy the product or service. However, if there is still a concern, the salesperson may be able to close the sale by creating an urgency response or providing alternative options in case the buyer is hesitant.

Last but not least is the follow-up process. It is very important to follow up with the customers to build a good relationship with them. Also, word of mouth helps most sales and therefore if your relationship with customers is good, they will refer you. Additionally, good follow up and good service helps retain customers for a long time and can possibly result in repeat sales or further business opportunities. 

It is correctly said that visuals play a vital role in explaining something to someone. Similarly, in the sales process, presentation is crucial. As a result, presentation is the next stage in the sales process. This may involve demonstrating the working product. Also, sometimes it may be about understanding the needs of customers and presenting and discussing the possible solutions with customers. This stage can help build the relationship with the prospective customer and nourish it for the long term. 

Final Stages of sales process Quiz

Question

What is sales process?

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Answer

Sales process is a sequence of activities which are predefined to convert the potential customer into the buying customer. It defines the journey of potential customers which may include their buying decisions to approaching them to closing the deals.

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Question

What is mean by prospecting stage in the sales process?

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Answer

Prospecting is the first and most important step of the sales process. It is more about prospecting the customers which means finding the potential customer and understanding their demands for the product and the services. The Prospecting of sales can be done with the ‘Wh’ questions.

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Question

What happens during the preparation stage of the sales process?

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Answer

In the Preparation stage, the organisation, or salesperson prepares for the first contact with the customers after researching and understanding the needs of the customers, their reason for buying, their logic, affordability for their products/services etc. 

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What stage is it called when the salesperson or organisation comes in contact with the customer for the first time?

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Approach stage

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What does Presentation stage may involve?

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Presentation stage may involve demonstrating the products working or may involve the presentation on the machine. Also, sometimes it may be about understanding the needs of the customers and presenting and discussing the possible solutions with the customers. 

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What are 3 different ways of closing the sales?

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Answer

1. Creating urgency close

2. Alternative option close

3.Additional offering close

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What is creating urgency close?

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Many sales are closed when the urgency for the product or service is created. This means that the salesperson may inform the customer about the limited availability at the given discounted price or create a need in the mind of the customer for the product on an immediate basis. 

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What is Alternative option close?

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Answer

The salesperson may also offer an alternative or substitute which may match the customer needs.

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Explain additional offering close?

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Answer

When customers are offered extra at the same price, the customer may choose to make a purchase. This may involve additional service, warranty, extra product or anything that may add value for the customers.  

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Question

Why is follow-up stage important?

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Answer

 It is very important to follow up with the customers to build a good relationship with the customer. Also as we know, word of mouth helps most sales and if your relationship with customers is good, they will refer you. Also, good follow up and good services helps to retain customers for a long time and can possibly give repeat sales or business opportunities. 

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Question

Explain handling objection stage?

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Answer

The objections may not always be part of the sales process. As there may be a buyer who will have as smooth a sale as butter and some other customers may be in doubt even after making a purchase. Every customer is different in the sales process and it is very important to handle each customer specifically. It is crucial how the salesperson handles the objections of the customers as this may make or break the deal. In this stage, all the concerns, objections and backing of the customers needs to be understood and addressed. The handling of objections and follow up can crack the deal for the salesperson to a greater extent as compared to the salesperson who may give up at this stage if the customer objects on purchase.

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Question

What kind of questions can be asked to understand the prospective customers?

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Answer

The Prospecting of sales can be done with the ‘Wh’ questions. Below are some of the questions a company and/or organisation needs to answer to understand the requirements of customers for the sales of any goods and/or services.

  • What customers need in terms of your product?

  • Where is the customer location?

  • When will they need your product or services?

  • Who will need it?

  • Why will they buy your product or service?

  • How will they make the payment for your product or service?

Show question

Question

Which stage can help to crack a deal or loose it completely in the sales process?

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Answer

The handling of objections and follow up can crack the deal for the salesperson to a greater extent as compared to the salesperson who may give up at this stage if the customer objects on purchase.

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Question

What can help to retain the customers for the long time?

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Answer

Good follow-up can help to retain customers for the long time.

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Which is the best closing the deal method?

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Answer

There is no best and all closing the deal method is equally important. The method will be dependent on the situation and the customer's motivation to make a decsion

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Question

... means finding potential customers and understanding their demands for the product or service. 

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Answer

Prospecting

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Question

After preparing for the first contact with the customers, the salesperson should ...

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approach prospective customers 

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A salesperson can close the sale by creating urgency close, ..., or additional offering close.

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Alternative option close

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The closing that involve offering additional service, warranty, extra product or anything that may add value for the customer is called ...

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Alternative offering close 

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... means that the salesperson may inform the customer about the limited availability at the given discounted price. 

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Urgency close

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The last stage of the sales process is closing. 

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Answer

True

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Following up is the final stage of the sales process which is important for building a good relationship with the customer. 

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True

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The salesperson has no chance to sell the product if the customer initially rejects it. 

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True

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At which stage of the sales process can the salesperson address the remaining concerns of the customers in order to sell the product?

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Handling objections

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The presentation of the product should follows right after the preparation stage.

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True

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What should a business consider during the 'Preparation' stage of the sales process?

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Answer

how to approach a customer 

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