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So far in this series, we’ve covered six of the seven selling stages that are joined at the hip to your customers’ seven buying stages in the B2B buying process. These six are:

–  targeting your addressable market

– defining the sales opportunity

– understanding your prospective customer’s objectives,

– demonstrating why you’re the best option

– zeroing in on the deal, and

delivering the order and the solution

The Seventh Selling Stage. Ah, halcyon days! This is typically – if the implementation’s gone to plan – the honeymoon period that follows the consummation of the deal, but it’s not the time for you to rest on your laurels. Is there ever such a time in sales?

In the Seventh Buying Stage, which can potentially last the duration of your initial contract, your customer is engaged in the ongoing operation of their business, evaluating – among other things of course – the performance of your product or service against plan and moving towards the time when they have to make another business decision: do they renew with you or do they move their funds to an alternative solution or project that bumps yours?

Correspondingly, you should not be idle either. You should be reviewing the performance of your product or service as well, especially if your product or service involves your customer’s staff changing the way they work. People are notoriously and naturally resistant to change, so the key to any B2B project’s success is whether the benefits of the new product or service are sustained over time.

Be sure to schedule regular review milestones with your customer to make sure things are going to plan and to course correct if they’re not. At one of these early milestones, if things are indeed going to plan, you should also be asking your customer for referrals, other people they could recommend that would benefit from your offering. If you could build your business simply from referrals, you would never need to prospect again.

As with the seventh buying stage, the seventh selling stage is very similar to the first selling stage and in fact completes the cycle. You are actively reviewing your addressable market for other sources of new business. As well as new business, you also have your recently satisfied customer to think about. This gets us into a whole new and crucial realm of sales, the realm of account management. Often treated as a different role or skill-set within a business – but not necessarily so – account management is where you build the trust with your customer, strategise together on how best to develop their business, win new pieces of work from them and start to widen your influence within their organisation.

One of the easiest – and most overlooked – rules of sales is this.

You have a satisfied customer, a delighted customer even, who’s seeing the returns or rewards from the product or service you have relatively recently delivered.

Ask them for 3 referrals. ‘What 3 people can you think of that would also benefit from this product or service, whom we could approach with your blessing?’

Easy. Nothing wrong with asking them to do a bit of work drumming up 3 names for you, that sort of thing is the hallmark of any great partnership. Of course they should be 3 people that don’t compete with your customer.

Think about this for a moment: If you had 2 or 3 personal recommendations from every satisfied customer, you might never need to do demand generation again…