Customers follow a process from discovery all the way through to sales and then beyond as they become returning buyers. The seven key sales pipeline stages include:
- Prospecting. Through ads, public relations, and other promotional activities, potential customers discover that your business exists. Often, you apply targeting parameters to deliver your message to potential buyers who fit the profile of your existing client base and ideal customer.
- Lead qualification. To move leads downstream, offer an e-book, white paper, webinar, or another type of lead magnet to determine if the prospect is interested in learning more about your products and services.
- Demo or meeting. Afterward, schedule a demo or meeting to introduce potential buyers to your offerings and solutions. At this point, you want to evaluate if there is a strong business case for the lead to receive a proposal.
- Proposal. Make your case by summarizing how your company can help address the potential customer’s needs. Demonstrate how the prices you propose deliver more than enough value to offset the engagement cost. At this stage, remember to state your competitive advantages to help differentiate your proposal from other vendors your customer may meet.
- Negotiation and commitment. Discuss expanding or shrinking the scope of work, adjusting pricing, and managing expectations to come to agreement on a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Opportunity won. Finally, you close the sale and move toward order fulfillment.
- Post-purchase. In business, the sale should be considered closed at the first contract signing. Instead, your reps should invest in providing exceptional service during onboarding and regularly monitoring the account’s progress. At opportune times, you can cross-sell existing customers on new services and upsell them on premium solutions. When the contract is about to expire, you can explore renewal options with them. Among your happiest clients, ask for referrals to other potential customers.
This is one of the many passages and charts I find in books and articles on a daily basis. They span many disciplines, including:
- market trends (and, occasionally, history)
- emerging technologies and deep tech
- startups and venture capital
- corporate strategy and business dynamics
- product development and marketing
- finance and (mainly behavioral) economics
- cognitive psychology and neuroscience
- the future of work and career
I occasionally add a personal note to them.
The whole collection is available here.