The sales cycle: what is it and what are the 7 main stages?

Say you’re closing deals at an excellent rate—you should meet your quota for the month. But what about next month? In sales, consistency is key. When you don’t have a framework for successful sales, you won’t be able to predict your sales for tomorrow, let alone next month or next quarter.

Without a strategy, you’re navigating with no map and no idea where to go next. If you’re doing well, you won’t know how to repeat that success, and if you’re doing poorly, you won’t know how to avoid failure next time around. The solution? Create a sales cycle.

What is a sales cycle?
A sales cycle is the repeatable and tactical process salespeople follow to turn a lead into a customer. With a sales cycle in place, you always know your next move and where each lead is within the cycle. It can also help you repeat your success or determine how to improve.

Why is the sales cycle important?
Wondering why this is useful? Well, you can use your understanding of the sales cycle—and which stages you move through most quickly, which stages trip you up, etc.—to close deals faster. Seeing the sales process at a granular level, step by step, makes it easier to identify the individual actions that lead to problems or successes.

Let’s say you discover that your sales cycle is twice as long as your peers’ (that is, it’s taking you twice as long to make a sale). To find out why, you can look at each step you take to close a deal—from finding leads to overcoming objections. You may then review stage-by-stage conversion rates to see at which points leads are dropping off. If it looks like leads are dropping off after you give a sales presentation, for instance, then it’s time to polish your presentation skills or revise your message.

How long it takes you to complete the seven stages of the cycle depends on a number of factors, including your company, your product or service, and your industry. A B2B sales cycle is typically much different from a B2C sales cycle.


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