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8 Steps of the Sales Process

Why Repeat Business is More Profitable than One-Off Sales

Think about the steps you take to achieve an order if you are starting from scratch: (This assumes a medium to high value sale).

1. First you need a general idea of what type of individual or organisation you wish to target.

2. Then you find a source of these prospects using the Net, business directories, by advertising etc.

3. Next you make contact with these prospects and try and set an appointment.

4. You visit and discuss the prospect’s requirements.

5. Then you draw up a proposal, revisit and present the proposal.

6. You may then need to revise the proposal and resubmit.

7. Now you negotiate the price.

8. And in some cases you close the sale.

Those are the usual stages. How difficult is each one?

Defining your market and locating a source of prospects is easy these days, there are so many sources of information available. But making contact with prospects is becoming harder. What happens when you try to make an appointment? First there is the ‘secretary barrier’ to get past. That can be most frustrating and it may take considerable ingenuity and persistence to succeed.

Assuming that you do arrange an appointment. On your first visit, you will need to establish that your contact has decision-making authority and that there is a realistic prospect of coming to business.

Should stages 5 and 6 go smoothly, when it comes to negotiation, this may be tough since the buyer is likely to be price-sensitive.

Now contrast what we have reviewed with a typical ‘repeat-business’ sale.

Since you and the buyer are acquainted, setting an appointment may be easy. You don’t need to worry about getting past an obstructive ‘gatekeeper’.

Now you know who the key figures in the company are and you will be able to address your proposal to them.

Your discussions will be more frank, since the client is satisfied with the work you did previously.

Finally, when you reach the subject of price, the client may accept a slightly higher price from you than from an unknown supplier because he has confidence in your ability to do a good job.

New clients are difficult to appoint, guarded in the information they share with you and they tend to ‘try you out’ with a small job which they want keenly priced.

But repeat customers know you and are easy to get to visit, they accept your phone calls, have open discussion with you because they trust you and they are potentially less price sensitive.

What’s more they provide an opportunity for a long stream of business, sometimes known as the ‘lifetime value of the customer’ and may be a source of referrals.

For all these reasons it is easier to grow a profitable business if you focus on repeat customers, rather than one-off sales.

Download a Free Sales Masterclass

Information on the Selling for Engineers manual and Seminar

Robert Seviour is a sales trainer specialising in business development for technical companies.

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