This is 2 part post. See the first part here
Once the marketing team or the sales team identifies the lead to be a potential customer, and the sales team does have an interest to pursue a particular lead, it is then converted. This conversion has a few of different categories of information; a contact, an account, an opportunity:
- A contact is a person within a company. It is possible to have multiple contacts within a company. Most interactions with a company is to a contact
- A company is also referred to as an account. Some systems have the capability to have parent and child accounts. This relationship is to ensure that head office and branch offices are maintained under the same account.
- The third aspect is the opportunity. An opportunity is a clear potential to make a sale. The opportunity in many systems are gauged by a timeframe within which the sale can be conducted and the value of a sale that can be done.
- There are other optional aspects such as events, notes and campaign logs that can be maintained for a converted lead. The reason behind these optional aspects is maintain a history of interaction with the customer. For example, for which marketing campaign did our company first meet with this customer or when was the email campaign sent.
The confirmed information about a contact and the company that she works for is a static data point that usually does not change over time. Contacts and account details can be used for a variety of activities such as sending proposals sending quotations, sending invitations to events or for specialised discounts and promotions.
One thing to note about a contact is that, the person may choose to work for another company in due course of time. In such a case, usually I would recommend that you mark the current contact as terminated or change the status to dead. It is very rare that you would transfer the contact data to the new company that she works for. However, you would create a new contact and the new company and keep a reference note under this contact mentioning that she had work previously for another company.
Most systems will be able to detect duplicates within the contact database using fields like email, primary phone number or a combination of name and address. Duplication must be seriously looked at during this phase of the sales cycle.
The Sales Cycle
We had discussed about targets and is being part of the marketing campaign and everything beyond leads to be part of the sales cycle. The sales cycle has numerous steps and depending on the complexity of the product or service that is being sold, the length of the cycle can drastically change.
Qualification is usually the first step in the sales cycle. Once the lead, or contact is qualified, it means there is a clear need for the product or service that is being sold. The exact need would be identified in the next step of the cycle.
Based on the information that is received about the qualified lead which is converted to a contact and also an account, the exact pain point is identified. A single product or service may not address all the pain points, however, so long as there is sufficient number of pain points a value can be found.
Understanding the value that the product or service will deliver to the customer is important because this value has to be clearly expressed to the customer. Before a sale, the customer has to believe that the product or service will deliver what is expected. Most of the value proposition will have to be built around solving the pain points that the customer has exhibited during the need analysis. This is a stage where the mapping of the product features to the pain points of the customer takes place.
Identifying Decision Makers
When selling a product or service to a large firm, there are usually multiple people who will be using the product and therefore, it will be necessary to identify all those who will influence the purchasing decision.
There could be other components that is required to ensure the sale can be closed. The perception of the customer is understood to incorporate the additional requirements to satisfy all the possible needs of the customer
A detailed proposal is presented along with the price of the product/ service
Most cases for large contracts, there will be negotiations that are conducted. There could be specifications that are changed or general price negotiations
This is the final stage where, the sale is closed and result is either a win or a lose. If customer is won, then the next step is to bill the customer. If the customer is lost then there could be a assessment to understand the reasons why this customer was lost.
In most cases, the customer contacts are maintained for future business, whether the sale was won or lost.
Not all sales cycles follow this exact pattern. The type of product or service will determine the length of the cycle. For example, the sale of a chocolate bar to person would last a few minutes, while the sale of a large commercial oil tanker may take a few months. This difference is not because of the physical size of the product but rather the time taken to make the decision to buy or not. Most individual buyers tend to be much faster in their decision making as compared to a large corporate entity. Therefore all the phases of the sales cycle mentioned above may not pertain to the sale of a chocolate bar!
Now that we have explore the different stages of a sales cycle, do let us know how you conduct the sales cycle in your firm. Please provide your comments below!