The Sales Curve vs The Sales Process

The sale process has always been part of the sales lexicon. You can’t get away from it.  The sales process is traditionally a linear set of stages outlining how a sale happens from beginning to end.  I’ve posted about this before. (Check out the video and corresponding ebook on the real sales cycle)

Yesterday, I found this start-up curve on Fred Wilson’s blog and I couldn’t help but think it looks a lot like the selling world.


The TechCrunch of Initiation is like the first, super successful meeting that captures a key buyers attention. Everyone is excited and feeling confident.

Wearing Off of Novelty is when other, pressing issues get in the way and the buyer stops calling you back. It’s when the buyers existing, busy world has worn away the luster of your shiny new object.

The Trough of Sorrow is the weeks or months of trying to get back in touch with the buyer with no luck. It’s when other stakeholders get involved who aren’t as excited about your solution as the key buyer. You start feeling the deal is lost.

Releases of Improvement is when the customer finally gets back with you and shares with you all the reasons it won’t work and what they need from you and your company; a lower price, new features, faster install time, longer support, etc. This is where they tell you all the reasons it won’t work, the objectives.

Crash of Ineptitude is when the rest of the organization tells you the client is an idiot and that they aren’t going to lower the price or add the features or support you in anyway. It’s were everyone tells you, as the sales person, are doing a shitty job because the customer is out of control and being unreasonable. It’s when the sales prevention department is at its best.

Wiggle of False Hope happens after you tell the customer that you can’t meet all of their demands and that it might not be a good fit and they return with a more reasonable set of demands.  It’s when you let the sales prevention department know the customer is willing to work with you and someone in the organization softens up and comes to your aid. Despite what appears to be progress, you still end up making little progress battling the customer and the sales prevention department.

The Promised Land is when the customer and your organization finally get on the same page. The customer is making reasonable requests and showing real commitment to buy and your organization is genuinely listening to the customer and responding favorably. The deal looks like it could actually happen.

Acquisition of Liquidity is the moment of close. It’s when the deal is done and the contract is closed. Everyone is happy and have forgotten all the frustration, acrimony and difficulty of getting to the close.

Upside of the Buyer is the moment the customer achieves the benefits they had hoped they would by buying your solution or product and when your organization incorporates the lessons learned from the selling process with this customer, to make for a better selling process in the future.

There is more to the selling process than the linear, staged process we are so accustomed to. There is even more to it than the stepped, non linear approach I espouse. There is an emotional cycle or curve that happens. Knowing the emotional stages and which you are in makes it that much easier to get through them.

Where are you in the sales curve. My condolences if you are in the trough of sorrow. Hang in there, it will pass.


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