Learn the Stages of Sales & Become a Better Sales Person

When done right, sales is about creating relationships and trust with people (complex and nuanced by default) with the goal of delivering business value to your customer and establishing a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been involved in (and led) a number of sales opportunities at Atomic Object. It became painfully obvious early on that many different things happen during a sales relationship, and that I didn’t really have the vocabulary to understand them, much less get better.

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some coaching, including learning the different stages of sales and the unique needs and interactions of each stage. Every person who does sales is likely stronger in certain stages and weaker in others. Understanding the stages is the first step toward addressing your weaknesses and improving your strengths.

h2. Stages of Selling

There are 6 stages of selling and each stages influences the other—which is why it is important to get as good as you can get in each.

h3. 1. Prospecting

This is the first step of of most sales systems. It’s the phase of the sale where opportunities are identified, detailed background information is gathered about the client, and an overview of their business needs are gathered. At Atomic Object, we don’t often actively pursue opportunities that are not first brought to us by a prospective client, so this stage is a little different for us.

h3. 2. First Impression

The first face-to-face interaction between a potential client and the salesperson, this where a salesperson demonstrate his or her sincere interest in the the client and their business need. It’s an opportunity to develop a sense of mutual respect and rapport.

h3. 3. Qualifying

The questioning and detailed analysis phase of the face-to-face sale, this step of selling enables the salesperson to discover whether the client’s business idea or need can be appropriately capitalized for success, ensuring that we (Atomic) are the right fit, and taking the first steps at validating their need or idea so that it has the best chance at success.

h3. 4. Demonstration

The ability of the salesperson to present his or her services in such a way that it fulfills the stated or implied needs or intentions of the client as identified and verbalized.

h3. 5. Influence

This where the salesperson can build value and overcome the tendency that many clients have to place little belief or trust in what is told to them. It is this phase of the sale that solidifies the clients’s belief in the services offered and salesperson.

h3. 5. Close

The final phase of any sales. This step is asking the client to purchase your services, dealing with objections, handling any necessary negotiation and completing the sale to the mutual satisfaction of both the client and your company.

h2. Addressing Your Weaknesses

In order to get better at any one of these stages, you have to first know what they are and then reflect on each stage to determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Take the time to consciously make note of when you feel the least confident or comfortable in the sales process (where do you become scripted, nervous, unsure, unconvincing, etc.).

I’d encourage you to ask a fellow salesperson or peer sit in with you on a sales opportunity and have them evaluate you through each stage. Outside observations can be invaluable.

Lastly, there are tools out there that can roughly measure how effective you are in each stage. For instance, I have taken the “Sales Skills Index”:http://www.ttisuccessinsights.com/products/ offered by “TTI Success Insights”:http://www.ttisuccessinsights.com, which measures your performance against the top sales people in the world.