The sales process in any business is at its most critical when the sale is closed. In fact, it is during this time that the most sales are closed, as the final transaction occurs and payment is made. The sales process has a direct bearing on the success of any business. Therefore, businesses continually review and test their sales processes to ensure that these processes work to their advantage.

The sales process, or funnel, is an interactive consumer-based marketing approach that depicts the logical customer journey from initial contact with a company to the ultimate purchase of a product or service. Each stage is a logical extension of the previous one. Although each stage can be viewed separately, the common thread throughout all stages is the prospect’s interaction with the company. Each stage is predicated upon a previous one, therefore, the goal is to weave all possible interactions into a consistent flow that will provide a seamless experience from initial contact to the ultimate sale. This article will discuss some of the most critical stages involved in developing a sales process.

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Disregarding potential objections: When a potential customer or client approaches a business, the first steps typically include information gathering (pre-qualifying), data collection (giving information relevant to the situation and specific needs), asking questions, and/or asking for feedback. A key component of the sales process is the handling of objections, which is the last step in the sales process. All three steps listed above should be reviewed for completeness and effectiveness.

Ensuring the “buyer is one stage ahead of the market: Through the sales process, a company must ensure that the prospective buyer is one stage ahead of the market. The challenge here is twofold. First, on a one-stage process, the company must give enough information for the prospective buyer to make a buying decision; however, in the back and forth communication between the buyer and seller, there are many details that are not immediately evident to the customer needs. The second challenge is to ensure that the information provided is relevant to the product or service being sold.

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Building rapport with prospects and clients: Developing rapport with customers and clients requires additional attention and detail than the other two steps listed above. During the first two stages, the salespeople understand what the potential client needs and is able to provide them with an accurate description of the product or service that is being sold. The third stage is more challenging. During this stage, the potential client is able to recognize the unique value of the product or service being presented and the salespeople are able to match the unique value with a proper presentation.

This seven steps for the handling of objections may seem relatively straightforward. However, many salespeople fail at even one stage of the process. This failure is not unique to salespeople, but instead stems from the lack of understanding and effort to master each stage of the sales process. Learning how to deal with objections will not only benefit the individual salesperson, but also help increase overall sales productivity.

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