The most important step of the sales cycle is the one you are in.
There has been a very lively and spirited discussion on this topic in the LinkedIn group forum, a Sales BlogCast. It’s been going on for over 3 months. It’s a great string, with over 650 comments. You can check it out here, although you may need to join the group to see it. It’s definitely worth the read.
I haven’t read all 662 comments, but I have read many of them and most people’s comments are very clear, there IS a step they believe is most important. What step is deemed most important varies. But, without a doubt, almost everyone picked a specific step in the sales process they felt was THE most important.
I don’t subscribe to the premise one step of the sales process is more important than another. In order for one step of the sales process to be more important than another assumes two things; one, the sales process is linear and two, each step is present only once. Neither of these assumptions are true. Sales processes are not linear and each step is actually repeated over and over and over through out the selling process, including the close.
The sales cycle is made up of a series of smallers sales, each requiring the customer to say yes or for you to close. Getting the first meeting is a sale, getting access to confidential company information is a sales, getting the customer to do a demo is a sale, getting the customer to sign an NDA is a sale, “the sale” is a series of sales.
Because the sales cycle is a series of smaller sales, the most important step in that process is the one you are in. It’s this observation that changes the game. Being able to sell well requires being able to close all the little sales that get you to the end of the big sale.
Closing, relationships, qualifying, trust, product fit, creating value or demand, preparation, planning are all important steps of the sales cycle, however they don’t stand alone and they don’t show up just once. They are used collectively during each small sale with in the sale. It’s this micro environment that minimizes the value of one step over another and establishes the step you are in to to be the most important.
Don’t look at a sales cycle being qualify, present, close, that’s too linear. Sales is a series of multiple sales with in the sale and it each of those smaller sales requires EVERY step.
If you want to know what step in the sales cycle is most important, look at the one you are in.