What Is the Sales Process? - Steps & Example

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

The process between a potential buyer, and a company with a product to be bought, is known as selling. Explore the seven steps in the sales process, and learn to recognize their impact through a series of potentially familiar examples. Updated: 09/17/2021

Definition of Selling

Selling is a process involving the interaction between a potential buyer and a person hired by a company to sell its products to potential buyers. Sales is a recognized business profession, and ranges from a shoe salesman to an investment banker who manages company stock with billions of dollars at stake.

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  • 0:00 Definition of Selling
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Sales Process

Professional selling involves a series of seven distinct steps. Let's take a look at each.

  1. Prospecting is finding and qualifying potential customers. Qualifying is the process of determining whether a potential customer has a need or want that the company can fulfill, and whether the potential client can afford the product.
  2. Preparation involves preparing for the initial contact with a potential customer. You will need to collect and study relevant information, such as product descriptions, prices, and competitor information. You will also need to develop your initial sales presentation.
  3. Approach is the first face-to-face interaction you will have with the potential customer. In the premium approach, you give your prospect a gift at the beginning of the interaction. It may be a pen, a novelty item or company calendar, for example. Another method is the question approach, in which you ask a question to get the prospect interested. For example, 'Would you have a problem making a 15% annual return on an investment?' You may also use the product approach, in which you give the prospect a sample to review. The idea behind all of these approaches is to get the prospect involved in the interaction quickly.
  4. Presentation is actively listening to the needs and wants of the potential customer and demonstrating how your product can meet those needs and wants.
  5. Handling objections is an important part of the process. Objections can be useful because they tell the salesperson what to focus upon in addressing a prospect's concerns. Successful salespeople learn how to overcome objections through preparation and having the right information at hand to address them.
  6. Closing involves identifying closing signals from the prospect that indicate it's decision time. There are different approaches to closing. In the alternative choice close, you assume the sale and offer the prospect a choice such as, 'Will this be a cash or credit transaction?' An extra inducement close involves you offering something extra to get the buyer to agree, such as a discount or a free product. In the standing room only close, you inform the prospect that time is of the essence because some impending event, such as a price increase, will change the terms of the offer.
  7. Follow-up is building a long-term relationship with your customer for purposes of repeat sales. For example, you make contact with the customer sometime after the sale and make sure the product was received and is in good condition. Again, the idea is not to sell at this stage, but to create a solid relationship for future sales.

Sales Examples

Here is an example of the sales process in action.

Let's say that you are a life insurance salesperson for a national life insurance company. You begin your day prospecting by reviewing reply cards returned to you from a direct mail campaign. One reply card looks promising. The card states that the prospect is between the ages of 30 and 40, is married with two children, with an annual household income of $125,000, and currently is uninsured.

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