The best of the best sales people find managing their sales leads through the sales cycle challenging, but essential. Controlling activities at each stage of your sales cycle is key to success in sales.

The Sales Cycle is a great model to use to help you to plan, to set goals and to increase success in sales. Success comes from managing each stage of the sales cycle effectively. This involves having a personal management system, where you sit down at least once every week to review, plan your next sales activities and set goals for the following week that will ensure increased sales.

Indentify Your Sales Cycle
Identify each stage of the sales cycle, there may be from five to seven stages in your cycle. Make a chart of this with nice big circles, and give each circle a meaningful name. For example:

1. The first circle is Leads, these will include all prospects and some unqualified prospects.
2. The Contact stage, where you email or telephone a lead and make contact with them. Your group of leads will now reduce to qualified prospects.
3. The Meeting or Presentation stage. Some of these meetings will lead to new business, some may require further action.
4. Active Stage, these are prospects you have met and you are working on. Some will convert to new business
5. New business, you have your first order
6. Existing Customer, the customer continues to order, and will buy other products or services
7. Advocate, the Customer will recommend you to others and will give you referrals.

Manage your Sales Cycle
Having identified your Sales Cycle, the focus now is to maximise on your sales potential at each stage. You do this by managing the your processes and activities at each stage of the sales cycle to ensure that you are in control of your sales pipeline.

You do this by:

• Carefully managing and tracking each prospect, so that no activity gets overlooked. Keep a record for each one, with every activity and future action carefully flagged

• Measure the number of prospects that are at each stage, ensuring that there is a continuous flow through the pipeline. Remember that it will reduce at each stage, so you must be continuously feeding new prospects in, and working at each phase.

• Set goals on a weekly basis that will ensure you are working on every stage of your sales cycle. Plan your week carefully to maximise on time, effort and energy.

• Use conversion rates to set targets for activities, goal achievement and improvement at each stage. Take, say, 40 names and your aim is to make telephone contact with each. Set yourself the target of making contact with 10 and converting at least four of these to a meeting. If you are successful, you will have achieved a conversion rate of 10 per cent. Increase this next time to a target of 12 per cent conversion rate. Do this at each stage, contact to meeting, meeting to new business and so on. The higher your conversion rate at each stage, the higher the number of sales you will get.

Review our Sales Cycle Management System

At least once every month, review how you are managing your sales cycle, and make improvements. Review:

• Your sales management processes
• Your sales activity recording systems
• Your goals and targets
• Your conversion rates at each stage

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi provides Communication Skills training and she designs fully customised Sales Training for sales professionals at all levels.