Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Master the Sales Cycle
Master the Sales Cycle

Master the Sales Cycle

Whether it’s software or shoes, every sales professional experiences a sales cycle. The length varies according to industry, but one thing never changes: To be successful in sales, you must understand the process.

Identify Sales Prospects

The cycle begins with identifying target prospects, says Alan Rigg, president of consulting firm 80/20 Sales Performance. You have about 30 seconds to grab the prospect’s attention so they’ll give you two or three minutes of their time.

“Prospects don’t sit by the phone hoping salespeople will call,” Rigg says. “You have to be compelling enough to make them stop what they’re thinking about and concentrate on you.” The best way to do that is to emphasize the quantifiable impact your company has had on clients -- including your prospect’s competitors.

Learn More About the Prospect

The next part of the cycle is to convince your prospect to schedule what Rigg refers to as the “discovery conversation.” Ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, this is an opportunity to ask probing questions. Does the prospect have a problem your company can solve? Questions about time spent on various tasks, needs for equipment or goods, and future plans can create a context for the pricing discussion that will occur later.

Remember, ascertaining if the prospect is worth a salesperson’s investment of time and resources is equally as important to discover in this meeting. “It’s a two-way street,” Rigg notes. “Ask insightful questions, so you don’t end up wasting his time – and yours.”

Share with Your Manager

If a prospect is legitimate, the next step is to share information gleaned with a sales manager. This is especially important for people new to sales or to a particular company.

“Most sales professionals don’t know everything about the products or services they’re selling,” Rigg says. “You need to find experts in your company who can help you determine your next step.”

Draft a Sales Proposal

Those discussions lead to the preparation of a prospect proposal. The key is to identify a problem, quantify it and show how your company can solve it. Pricing should be related to the problem. “Create a financial justification for purchasing your product,” Rigg advises. “That reenergizes the prospect’s emotions.” A sales cycle may stall if a prospect is no longer engaged, he notes.

Deal with Objections

After reviewing a proposal with a prospect, you can deal with objections. Supply more information, if necessary.

For example, if you sell athletic shoes made in Asia, you can describe different types of shipping, from slow and cost-effective (boat) to quick and more expensive (air) says Rich Hiltz, sales manager of Lotto Sport USA. Help your customer frame questions he may not even know to ask, such as the possibility of using different warehouses or distribution centers.

Time Management Throughout the Sales Cycle

Throughout the sales cycle, a good salesperson prioritizes activities. “Salespeople have one item in their inventory -- their time,” says Rigg. “If the prime selling time to your prospects is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., save that time for selling. If other activities need your attention, do them outside your selling time.”

Hiltz agrees. “It’s important to hit your timetables,” he says. “Keep yourself and your customer focused on the calendar.” Though planning far in advance might be harder initially, it will be easier to avoid last-minute problems down the line.

In addition, Rigg says, “Review your opportunities daily. Reprioritize as often as you can.” When overwhelmed, he advises to start with the biggest opportunities that have the best chance of closing and then work down the list. “Keep asking yourself: ‘Am I using my time as wisely as possible?’”

Understand Your Selling Technique

One key to understanding the sales cycle is understanding yourself. A long cycle, such as with complex software applications, can extend beyond a year. However, if you sell cartridges for printers, you might take orders every two weeks.

“Try to gauge what type of selling works best for you,” says Rigg. “If you enjoy managing ongoing customers with repeat sales, consumables are probably best. If you like selling big-ticket items with the payoff at the end, you should sell something like heavy machinery.”

Determine whether you work better on a long cycle or a short one. Ask yourself which you enjoy more: solving simple problems or complex ones? “Each cycle is different, and you’ll stay motivated if your sales cycle fits your personal style,” says Rigg.

Learn more about sales careers.

Latest Jobs

Mac Tools
Posted: 05/29/2015
Kforce Inc
Posted: 05/29/2015
Cockeysville, MD, 21030
Tifco Industries, Inc.
Posted: 05/29/2015
Albuquerque, NM
Kforce Inc
Posted: 05/29/2015
Baltimore, MD, 21202
Kforce Inc
Posted: 05/29/2015
Lewisville, TX, 75056

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-311