No More “Maybes” – Understanding the Sales Cycle

I have a confession: I am an entrepreneur and I don’t really know how to sell.

But, (obviously) my one-person service business relies on me selling my services.

I’m getting better at it, but most of the time, my sales cycle feels a little awkward.

Quite often, prospective clients want to cut right to the quote. Here’s a real email (made anonymous for these purposes) I got from a prospective client:

I am looking to have a logo created for my company. I am looking for a very simple logo.

I am also looking for a simple website for the company. Basically I will need a home page, about, services page, and resources page.

Also, I have the domain name for and I would like to get a blog started and eventually turn the blog into a website with more information on it to include blog posts, video blogs, advertise & sell products – books and ebooks, etc.

Could I get a quote for all of these different options? I am on a small budget.

After over a dozen emails back and forth (asking for clarification and details, etc.) over the course of a month, she decided to go with another company.

Honestly, it wasn’t a good fit, and I think I knew that pretty early on. But, I spent a lot of time and effort trying to cultivate a relationship that wasn’t going to work. These situations get really tiring and frustrating.

After watching this 16-minute video by Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, I completely see where I went wrong.

There are three steps you should go through before you ever submit a proposal (initiate, educate, validate). I was trying to cram all of that into a proposal based on a few vague emails.

The first instance you see that the prospect isn’t a good fit, you should take them out of the sales funnel – not drag them kicking and screaming the rest of the way.

I highly, highly recommend watching this video (embedded below) if you’re even slightly confused about your sales process:

Get a handle on the sales process — and close more business from Pamela Slim on Vimeo.

Or watch it on Pam’s site here.

I’d love to hear what you think of the video (and the sales process) in the comments.


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  1. Deb Pang Davis on October 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Hey D,

    Nice and sometimes even a reaction to the first email might not be accurate. I’ve had a few where my first impression is not optimistic and somehow it changes.

    It’s a bit of a dance.

    Educating is a big part of selling and this is something that I think can be done even prior to to leading people into the sales funnel. My theory is that once you are able to educate (even about how to contact a designer) the initiation stage or meeting stage is already at a higher place… The people who contact you already know you and what you can offer; they already like the way you think, etc.

    I’m still working on this and hoping to link it together soon!

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. on October 29, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Thanks Deb — you’re absolutely right. I’m working on an education piece for my new site too. Hopefully it’ll cut out some of these more dead-end queries and lead to more from my “right people.”

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