A simple sales cycle consists of the following five phases
The outcome of the follow-up phase (step 5) should feed back into step 3 where new proposals are developed, shortcutting the time intensive phases of lead qualification (1) and prospecting(2).
Empirical research showed that customer retention is a strong corporate profit booster. Building strong buyer-seller relations is not an easy task. The sales person needs to go beyond the discovery of buyer needs. Trust between two parties develops over multiple interactions. Effective follow-up is an important tool for the sales person to increase the buyer's level of trust. An effective follow-up includes four elements.
The sales person:
aims to maximise the number of sales encounters with current buyers in order to develop an effective dialogue;
remains in contact with all individuals who influence purchase decisions at the buying organisation, and coordinates all interactions between the sales organisation and the buying organisation to assure consistency.
coordinates and analyses all information from exchanges between members of the buying and the selling organisations. This activity needs to be focused on developing insight into changing circumstances, needs and expectations on the buyer's side;
uses the understanding and insight gained to develop value-adding exchanges with the buyer that build a better relationship.
A standard feedback process such as ICKR helps make this phase in the sales cycle more effective on a corporate wide basis.
A standard feedback process provides a foundation for automating the sales process.
The result of feedback activities need to be monitored with an explicit set of performance indicators. Developing a set of indicators that balances the long and the short term is not an easy task.