Running a small business means having a plan to increase your profit. Part of that is having a defined plan for your sales cycle and understanding what a sales funnel is. But as a small business owner, you are pretty busy, so we are breaking it down for you in this sweet and simple article!
A sales cycle is the process of selling to a single customer. It is the set of steps you and your sales team take with a prospect, from the early stage of reaching out to closing the deal. These steps are repeatable with each of your prospects and clients and include:
- Lead identification
- Needs analysis
- Follow up
- Customer relationship management
You will want to have a clearly defined sales cycle for prospects and existing clients. This is because the sequence of events, hand-offs, deliverables, and timeframes might be different for prospects versus existing clients. These key differences should be made clear to everyone on the sales team when moving prospects to clients, such as staying in-touch and building a long-term business relationship.
A sales funnel, also called a sales pipeline, is the aggregate view of all active sales cycles. The steps in a sales funnel include all the same steps as are in your sales cycle, but it allows you to see where all of your current sales cycles are broken down by stage. Think of it like an eagle’s eye view of all of your in-process sales cycles.
These data analytics are helpful in sales forecasting (quarterly, monthly and even weekly). It also helps you to know if there are enough deals at each stage cycle to meet your target goals. You can even compare your current business performance to past quarters, months and weeks to see how you are doing over time.
How Can a System Help You Achieve Your Sales Goals?
Let’s start by looking at lead generation. That is the first step in a sales cycle after all. Onemata’s platform helps you analyze your current customer base to find out what the most promising leads would look like. Then, we do all the research for you through our connection to public and private sources that we search through in real-time to find the best warm leads for your company! All you have to do is sit back and wait for the Inbox Gold® to arrive directly in your email. From there you can sell, sell, sell!
A CRM (customer relationship management) platform is a system or software that helps you manage and analyze your interactions with customers, store information about them and even can allow you to automate a number of processes connected with the customer’s journey through the sales cycle. A CRM allows you to track every interaction and store the history of those contacts so that when a member of your sales team interacts with a customer, they can see their history with the company. This makes the interaction more personalized, leading to an increase in the chance of conversion while also encouraging trust and loyalty.
Some of the typical functions of a CRM system include:
- Lead management (so you can track and analyze them)
- Marketing automation (such as automatically sending customers marketing emails set by you)
- Sales automation (track customer interactions and automate certain functions to follow leads or attract new customers)
- Workflow automation (helps optimize and streamline mundane tasks so your sales team can focus on what is important)
- Analytics (There is that word again! Remember the sales funnel we just talked about? A CRM system will help you achieve that bird’s eye view of your sales funnel and help you analyze your data for sales forecasting and goal setting.)
A CRM system basically helps you to create order out of the chaos of your sales cycles and sales funnel. It lets you focus on the customers instead of trying to figure out what they were told last, creating more meaningful interactions with them each time you contact them. It also helps you to analyze how your business is doing so you can set future goals and lets you know who your current customers are so you can generate more leads!