Sales and Marketing

The 7 Steps of The Sales Process

October 26, 2020

Steps of the sales process simplify sales. Learn the 7 steps of sales and why they're so important for successful salespeople.

A man in a suit building a staircase out of building blocks.

Understanding The Steps For A Perfect Sale

Sales techniques have changed quite a bit in most of our lifetimes. From the humble beginnings of the traveling salesman, most businesses now have an entire sales department. The methods in which salespeople tried to “sell” a customer have also changed dramatically.

However, companies now understand that sales rely on meaningful relationships with the customer that extend far beyond the sale itself. Along with the study of sales, this has developed the steps of the sales process. We’ll look at each step individually.

How Sales Have Changed

Not too long ago, there weren’t 7 steps in the sales process, it was only one step – selling. They would even get pushy or be less-than-honest when answering customer questions. For this reason, salespeople haven’t had the best reputation and are still working to repair the damage.

A black and white image from an old movie of a traveling salesman

Rather than sell and run, companies now work to build a relationship with their clients and fellow businesses. If you’re wondering how to do this, take a look at our article on the best ways to build relationships with customers.

Why it’s Important

We all know those old-school salespeople. The ones that learned their trade during the “closing is everything” mindset. This stereotype is usually associated with the old used car salesman.

Change is hard, but most of the time it’s necessary. Change is the reason for most innovations. The reason that learning these new methods and structures for sales? It works! So, if you’re clinging tight to your old ways, it’s time to accept defeat. Just as the market changes, so too does the way people interact with the market and each other.

So buckle in and prepare to learn. After you master the steps of the sales process and see it in action, you’ll quickly see the benefits.

What Are The 7 Steps of The Sales Process?

Now that we’ve discussed the changes in sales and why learning and following the steps in the sales process is important, let’s start looking at these steps. We’ll start with finding clients and understanding your audience.

1. Prospecting

There are very few industries that attract customers without much effort. There are just certain items we all NEED. If you’re in one of these lucky industries, however, don’t rely on it! There are plenty of factors that contribute to our market and economy, so this can change. For example, during our current pandemic, many industries have seen a drastic decline in sales. Investopedia explains in this article the various ways recessions can impact businesses.

All of this to say, you need to figure out the best ways to reach your audience rather than relying on them to come to you. This is where prospecting comes in. There are many different prospecting methods, but here are some of the most common prospecting techniques:

  • Create a profile for your ideal prospect
  • Think of ways to meet your ideal prospects
  • Create and maintain a call list
  • Make personalized emails
  • Learn everything you can about your industry
A businessman looking through a pair of binoculars on top of a building. The first in the steps for the sales process is prospecting.

Read SuperOffice’s 10 unique prospecting strategies to learn more about these techniques. You can use any combination of these techniques, but keep in mind they all revolve around identifying who this “ideal prospect” is, so let’s see what exactly that means.

Identifying Ideal Prospects

An ideal prospect is important because they’re the most efficient person for you to reach out to. Think of ideal prospects as the exact people looking to purchase what you have, so obviously, these are the people you want to identify.

You can start creating your ideal prospect by doing some internal research. Look at the top customers and your most profitable customers and Learn and understand how and why these relationships work so well. What about their needs suits your business so well? Most shoppers are looking for something that solves a problem or need they have, so try to identify your prospect’s problems. If you know who most needs your product or service, you’ll know who to approach.

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2. Initial Contact

The second of the steps of the sales process is the first contact. We all know the importance of first impressions, but this is arguably even more important. Whether this first contact is through email, phone, etc., it’s more important to think about how you’re talking to your prospect.

Don’t pitch your product right away or jump into why they should use your services. Just start by gathering information. Rather than talking all about your amazing product, you should be listening. This isn’t about selling – it’s determining if your product or service will be a good match for their needs. Speaking of your prospect’s needs, let’s look at our next step in the sales process.

3. A Needs Assessment

After you’ve made the first contact with your prospects, it’s time to make a list of their needs. Another important tip – don’t just drill your prospect with questions. Try to lead a natural conversation and understand their needs and how you can address these needs. You should also ask about their budget, pain points, and timeline.

Make a list of the questions you want to ask prior to your meeting. It’s also a good idea to know a little bit about the business if you’re able to find any info. While you’re asking these questions, take note of the answers, this will be important in our next step in the sales process. Here are some other helpful questions:

  • What is your current product/situation?
  • Describe your likes and dislikes with your current product/situation?
  • What problems are you hoping to solve?
  • How do you think this will look after your problem is solved – your ideal solution?

All of this will give you a well-rounded idea of what exactly this prospect is looking for. This will help you determine if they will be happy with your product or service. Remember your goal is to create a good match and customer relationship, not just make the sale. If you still feel like a great fit after the needs assessment, it’s time for our next step in the sales process.

steps in the sales process puzzle

4. Product Demo or Pitch

Now is the time you’ve been waiting for – showing off your product or service! This step will further cement the work you’ve already done in the previous step. Now is your time to prove yourself to your prospect – why they need you.

Look through your notes in the previous step and connect how you can solve or suit each of these points. During the demo of any products, show them the solutions for their needs. If possible, customize any pitch or marketing materials with their information. This shows them a crystal clear picture of a relationship with your company. This is another step where notes are useful. Keep track of what they are most excited about and any concerns or questions they have.

5. Proposal and Handling Objections

This step in the sales process can differ depending on what you’re selling. If you’re selling a service or something that necessitates a proposal, make sure you can customize it and do so while your pitch is still fresh in their mind. Don’t give them time to forget about what they thought of your demo.

You should also take this time to address any of their questions as well. Ideally, after the demo or pitch, you’ll follow up with their proposal and answers to any and all questions they had. If there are running questions or objections that you hear, keep track of these for future reference. This allows you to better prepare yourself and educate your prospects – hone your skill!

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Additionally, this should be a timely follow-up. If you do this wait too long, they may have time to demo competitors or shop around for alternatives. You’re also still trying to impress them – so don’t make them ask for their proposal or have to follow-up on questions. Although you’ve already met, you’re still within first impression territory. Don’t wait too long and ruin your work after you’ve worked so hard on your other steps of the sales process! This brings us to our next step.

steps for the sales process closed

6. Closing

It’s a common misconception that the closing step is the most important in the steps of the sales process. However, closing only happens if you’ve properly covered all of the other steps. The closing process shouldn’t be a negotiation, because this should have been covered in our previous step. If your new client begins working with others, the closing step should include any introductions and contacts.

You’re letting your prospect out into the world after you’ve made them a client. While this may feel like a great accomplishment, don’t run out of steam. Closing is just the start of ensuring your new client is satisfied and that your demo or pitch has lived up to their expectations. This brings us to our next step in the sales process.

7. Follow Up, Repeat Business, and Referrals

As we’ve previously mentioned, your goal isn’t the sale. For a successful sale, you need to develop a customer relationship. You’ve probably spent a lot of time and possibly materials on obtaining this new customer, so don’t lose them! After your client is up and running (whatever this means for your business), follow up with them. Make sure they don’t have any lingering questions or concerns and that they’re satisfied.

This step is important not only to ensure a successful client relationship – but it’s also the most beneficial outcome for your business. When client’s problems are solved, this means they’re able to grow themselves as well. This can lead to expansion and additional purchases – and of course, they’re going to come to their new favorite salesperson.

Referrals are also a great result of successfully following the steps of the sales process. If you’re in a Business to Business industry, this is fantastic news for you. Your satisfied customer will spread the word to their friends – boosting your sales and reputation.

A group of employees with signs that say, "tell your friends about us!" If you follow the steps for the sales process, referrals follow.

Now Start Selling

Now that you know all about the 7 steps of the sales process and their importance, it’s time to get to work. If you become a true believer in each step and your product or service, you’ll be a selling machine. Remember to focus on solving your ideal prospect’s problems. You’re creating customer relationships and friendships – not just making the sale.

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