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What is a Sales Cycle and What are its Different Stages?

What is a Sales Cycle and What are its Different Stages?

Chetna Sabharwal
Chetna Sabharwal
January 30, 2023
5 min read

Think of the sales cycle like dating – it starts with a spark, progresses through the courtship process, and ends in either a blissful relationship or an (hopefully) amicable '’let's go our separate ways'. 

The sales cycle is somewhat the same; it’s the sequence of steps a salesperson takes to complete an individual sale, from identifying a prospect from being unaware to closing the deal.

So, what is a sales cycle exactly?

You already use a sales cycle even if you might not call it that. Sales cycle refers to the process of identifying new customers and nurturing potential leads, presenting and demonstrating products or services, negotiating and closing deals, and following up with customers.

The sales cycle is a continuous process that is essential to the success of any business. Optimizing the sales cycle can help businesses increase efficiency, improve their customer experience, and drive revenue growth. 

Sales cycle v/s sales process

The sales cycle refers to specific steps within the sales process. The sales cycle is focused on identifying and converting leads with a solid game plan, while the sales process is like a roadmap that includes various methods and approaches to increasing sales productivity and bringing in money.

And what does a sales cycle have to do with the sales funnel?

No matter how great a salesperson you are or how incredible your sales team is, you won’t convert every prospect into a customer. Only a fraction of the potential clients you identify will make it through each stage.

You can’t catch ‘em all

The sales funnel is a visual representation of the sales cycle that shows the different stages a potential customer goes through before making a purchase. 

The average salesperson spends just 36% of their time selling, while the rest is spent on administrative tasks and other non-selling activities. By streamlining the sales cycle and eliminating unnecessary steps, you can free up your salespeople’s time to focus on what they do best: selling. You can also identify roadblocks and obstacles to conversion in your sales cycle and eliminate them. 

The  steps of your sales cycle, and the length of your sales cycle can vary depending on your industry, ideal customer profile (ICP), and product complexity. In general, the sales cycle starts with lead generation. This progresses into lead qualification. After that, sales reps focus on engaging customers with your products, and finally the sale and follow-up.

 The typical sales cycle is broken down into 7 stages:

A. Lead generation – identifying potential leads

  1. Prospecting stage
  2. First contact stage

B. Lead qualification – nurturing leads

  1. Qualifying leads stage

C. Customer engagement – demonstrating your products or services

  1. Product pitching stage
  2. Objections stage

D. The sale – negotiating and closing deals

  1. Closing stage

E. Customer relationship management – 

  1. After sales service and follow-ups stage

Let's break down each of the 7 different stages of the sales cycle.

  1. Prospecting stage
Looks like she sees high potential leads rounding the bend


The prospecting stage is where you identify new leads and build relationships with them. Sales prospecting can be done through networking events, social media, or simply reaching out to people you think might be interested in your product or service via cold calling or cold emails.

  1. First contact stage

Once you've identified a potential customer, the next step is to make initial contact. This could be a phone call, an email, or even a face-to-face meeting. 

But didn’t you make contact at that networking event we spoke about above? Wasn’t that technically first contact? 

Well, there you just exchanged details and got a “Call me, maybe.”  The first contact we’re referring to is the conversation where you  introduce your company and your product and start to build rapport with the potential customer.

  1. Qualifying leads stage

In this stage, you'll try to determine whether the potential customer is a good fit for your product or service. This might involve asking questions about their needs, budget, and decision-making process. If it looks like a good fit, you'll move on to the next stage. If not, it might be time to move on to the next prospect.

  1. Product pitching stage

Now that you've determined that the potential customer is a good fit, it's time to make the sales pitch. This sales pitch is the most critical part of the sales cycle since it’s where you present your product.

You making a confident pitch after acing the prior sales cycle stages 

Before you actually make your pitch, you want to ask detailed questions about the customer or their business and what they're looking to achieve. The goal is to understand the customer's pain points and how your product or service can help solve them.

Once you've identified the prospect’s needs, you can make a more focussed and personalized sales pitch. Explain how your product help them solve a specific problem that they face or how your solution can help them reach a business goal faster. 

  1. Objections stage

No matter how great your solution is, it's likely that the customer will have some concerns or objections. It's your job to address any concerns and or common objections the customer may have. Develop an arsenal of customer testimonials and product reviews. Always know where you win over your competitors so that you can make water-tight objection-handling arguments. 

Ask for context, understand their concerns, and then use their feedback to personalize your pitch or sales strategy.

  1.  Closing stage

If you've successfully navigated through the first six stages of the sales cycle, it's time to close the deal.

But preferably not as aggressively as Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross 

Use all of your skills to ensure the customer is satisfied. Remind them why they need your product or service and how it fits into their business model. Be sure to have a closing strategy that leaves them feeling confident in their purchase and secure in their decision. 

Just because the sale is closed doesn’t mean the sale is over. Closing the deal could involve negotiating additional terms, setting up payment arrangements, and getting the customer to sign on the dotted line. For more complicated products or larger deals, this stage could stretch out for months.

  1. After sales service and follow-ups stage

Once the deal is closed, you follow-up to ensure customer success and satisfaction with your product. 

Remember, you are building relationships for future sales opportunities. Ensure that the customer is receiving all benefits promised in your product or service—this could be in the form of customer service, technical support, or training about your product. Be sure to check in regularly and provide helpful information whenever possible. 

You love your pets checking in? Customers love you checking in. 

So there you have it: the seven stages of a sales cycle.

In the end, it’s important to remember the sales cycle is tailored to each customer; no two customers are alike, it is possible that sales cycles will need to be tweaked. With the right approach and understanding of your customer’s needs, you can build a successful sales cycle that leads to long-term relationships with clients.

Close more deals with Wingman

To improve just about anything in sales, whether it is your sales cycle or your sales pitches or even your product, you need data. That’s where conversation intelligence tools like Wingman can help. 

By consolidating all customer interactions under one roof, Wingman helps you optimize your sales operations, craft better sales strategies, and drive your conversion rate through the ceiling. Wingman integrates with other business platforms like email, CRM, and video conferencing tools, making it easier for your team to manage their workload and stay organized through all stages of the sales cycle. 

Wingman’s real-time coaching for sales reps with battle cards (live, contextual prompts, and cues) means sales pitching and closing deals are easier than ever before. 

For sales managers, Wingman provides at-risk deal alerts, and call success metrics, allowing you to monitor and improve the performance of your sales teams. Advanced analytics capabilities and dashboards help identify trends, recognize red flags, and make informed decisions on sales forecasts and targets. 

Get a first-hand experience of how Wingman can accelerate your sales cycle and improve your sales game – sign up for a free demo today. 

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