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What Is A Sales Cycle & How Can It Affect Your Small Business?

One of the keys to owning a successful small business is understanding what goes into a sale. While one's product or service might be newer, faster, prettier, bolder, or trend setting, sales are needed to make a profit. It is both a very simple, yet very complex idea.

So what is a sales cycle? According to Pipedrive, "A sales cycle is the series of predictable phases required to sell a product or a service. Sales cycles can vary greatly among organizations, products and services, and no one sale will be exactly the same." With a strong understanding of your sales cycle and proper management, your business can take steps towards becoming a thriving enterprise.

The Cycle

The sales cycle starts with prospecting, which is finding new customers or clients wanting your product or service. Contact is then initiated, either through social media, a phone call or even in person. Qualify contacts by determining if your business can meet a potential customer or client's needs and they are able and willing to buy your product or service. Present an offer, whether with a formal presentation or a one-to-one meeting. After presenting the offer, address any possible objections, which would indicate they are interested, and close the deal by asking for the sale. For businesses with contracts, get one written up immediately and get a signature. For those with immediate sales, get cash or credit card payment. Finally, ask for referrals, and be certain to get names, phone numbers and email addresses for a database.

In Practice

Every sale counts, and by using effective methods, there can be more sales done more effectively. To demonstrate by example, let's follow ABC Recycled Cartridges located in a strip mall.

Printers and printed product are still a big part of business, and recycled cartridges save money as well as create a smaller footprint. Everyone with a printer needs a cartridge. However, to build up sales, the owner or person handling sales can first prospect surrounding businesses. Contact might be an in person visit to encourage businesses to support each other in the mall. A presentation, and then an offer might be made, including a discount. After talking to various businesses about concerns, such as offering the proper cartridges, cleanliness and quality of print, the person making the sale would either accept cash or credit card for a small quantity or a signed contract for larger quantities. Finally, person would ask for referrals outside of the strip mall.

To grow a small business, sales must be made to generate a profit, and by understanding a sales cycle, more sales can be created in less time as well as developing new customers and business relationships.

This article was written by Debbie Hall for CBS Small Business Pulse

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