The Customer Relationship Sales Cycle
Using the “Customer Relationship Cycle,” we can examine the payback of training customer-facing employees with business development skills.
The Customer Relationship Cycle illustrates a prospective customer’s perception of trust and interest throughout the sales process.
A typical cycle progresses as follows: initial skepticism, a period of enthusiasm, a peak of excitement at the close of the sale, a period of disillusionment after the sale and an eventual plateau of realized value.
The Customer Relationship Sales Cycle has a simple and clear message: To maximize revenue, organizations must invest in managing the sales process at all points in the cycle. Companies must engage the prospect beyond the Peak of Interest (close of sale) through the Disillusionment phase (post-sale) to the point of Realized Value (customer satisfaction and loyalty).
A customer passes through several stages on the path to realized value:
Skepticism (Initial contact through demonstration): A breakthrough, product or service demonstration, marketing launch or other event generates significant interest.
Peak of Interest (Close of Sale): During this phase of over-enthusiasm and unrealistic projections, a flurry of sales activity results in some buying events.
Disillusionment (Post Sale): Hunter salesperson moves on to next opportunity. Customer relationship wanes.
Enlightenment (Implementation): If the customer is continually engaged after the initial sale and there is a successful implementation of the product or service, the customer sees an initial return on their investment.
Realized Value (Account Management): If an on-going customer relationship is maintained and value is recognized, the customer feels comfortable with the reduced levels of risk, and a rapid growth phase of value perception and loyalty begins. The customer is open to value-added products and services.
Success oriented organizations recognize the potential of each customer contact and the necessity to deliver unparalleled customer service while exploring sales and referral opportunities. The challenge is to train your service and non-sales representatives to approach every customer interaction as a selling opportunity.