Process steps

Author Michelle Park, University of San Francisco

Posted: June 20, 2016

Tagged: Sales process

There is more to a sales process than just picking up the phone and placing multiple cold calls. According to Skildum-Reid & Grey (2014), the sales process is “75% preparation, 10% sales pitch and 15% follow-up” (p. 159).

The first component, and the most important stage, of a successful sale process is preparation. Preparation takes up a majority of the total sales process and consists of two main parts: knowledge and relationships. Brian Lafemina, Senior Vice President of the NFL’s club business development, mentioned that in order to be successful, “sales executives need to understand their prospect’s business as well as their own” (Halberstam, 2016, p. 23). Therefore, gaining knowledge requires “gathering information and strategic planning” (Shapiro, 2015, p. 14). Before meeting with a possible future client, the salesperson should know everything they can find about the client’s company, such as what the client is looking for as well as what is important to them (Skildum-Reid & Grey, 2014, p. 159). Taking the time to research this information beforehand enables the sales person to be ready to confidently answer any questions or concerns the client may have. Along with the research and gathering information, it is crucial to also set goals. Success in sales means accomplishing both short and long-term goals (Shapiro, 2015, p. 14). Setting goals allows the sales person to make progress during the sales process by accomplishing multiple short-term goals and continuing to move forward towards accomplishing the long-term goal of closing in on the sale.

The second part to the preparation stage is to network effectively and to cultivate those relationships. Mike Boykin, CEO of Bespoke Sports and Entertainment, shared that preparation is vital and involves learning about the people in addition to the organizations they represent (Madkour, 2016, p. 20). In the beginning, a sales person will start out with networking and connecting with people who would be interested in purchasing the product or service that is being offered. Once the network has been established, relationship building must take place. According to Madkour (2016), networking leads to a successful relationship when the client trusts the sales person enough to start sharing private information that helps the sales person to learn more and do their job better (p. 20). Rob Butcher, President and CEO of Swim Across America, recommends to, “stop and listen to the person you are attempting to network and get to know their story” (Madkour, 2016, p. 20). Holmes (2007) defines this as establishing rapport where a client relationship leads to a friendship (p. 194). The relationship ends up being a “mutually beneficial relationship based not just on business but also on personal interest where true friendship develops (Madkour, 2016, p. 20). This personalized relationships is important because the more a sales person knows about their client’s interests, motivations and goals, the better equipped they are to make that sell (Shapiro, 2015, p. 14). Starting and developing a relationship takes time and effort from both sides. However, when the preparation stage of gaining knowledge and relationship building is done correctly, closing in on that sale becomes an easier task.

The next component of a successful sales process is creating value. Value is the “perceived worth in monetary terms of the economic, technical, service and social benefits received by a customer” (Cousens, Babiak, & Bradish, 2006, p. 11). Creating this value consists of informing the client about the benefits of the product or service being offered and how it would affect them positively. Holmes (2007) mentions that building value should be targeted to the buyer, and not on the product or service (p. 201). Once the relationship is established, creating value should be specific. From the relationship, it is important to understand the client’s “needs and changing requirements in order to tailor the product offerings to meet those needs” (Cousens et al, 2006, p. 12). Once you know the client better, you can customize the product or service to fit their standards. Benefits of the product or service, specific to the client, should be shared in order to strengthen and personalize the value. According to Madkour (2016), when a sales person can be of service in helping clients overcome their challenges, then you have proven the value (p. 20). Once the value has been proven, influencing the client on that value is needed to ultimately persuade the client to purchase.

Lastly, once the sale has been closed, it is important to always follow up and keep the relationship going. Instead of ending the relationship once the purchase has been made, continue the relationship from the perspective of “what can I do to help you?” (Madkour, 2016, p. 20). Maintain the friendship and stay updated with what has changed in their professional as well as personal life. Constant follow up is crucial, not only with those who have purchased, but also with those who have not purchased (Holmes, 2007, p. 213). Constant communication is vital in maintaining any relationship, and maintaining friendships with clients will only help. Once the friendship has been solidified, future sales will come easier because of the bond that has already been created.

Overall, a sales process has many different factors and steps that can take place. However, a successful sales process must include: preparation, being knowledgeable and developing relationships; creating value to influence; and following up to maintain the friendship.




Cousens, L., Babiak, K., & Bradish, C. L. (2006). Beyond sponsorship: Re-framing corporate-sport relationships. Sport Management Review, 9(1), 1-23.

Halberstam, D. J. (2016). How to approach new prospects: Be ready at moment’s notice. SportsBusiness Journal, 19(3), 23. Retrieved from

Holmes, C. (2007). The ultimate sales machine. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Madkour, A. D. (2016). How to be a good networker? Prepare, listen and learn. SportsBusiness Journal, 19(4), 20. Retrieved from

Shapiro, R. (2015). How to sell and negotiate more effectively in sports. SportsBusiness Journal, 17(44), 14. Retrieved from

Skildum-Reid, K., & Grey, A. (2014). The sponsorship seeker’s toolkit. United States: McGraw-Hill Education.

About Michelle Park, University of San Francisco

Michelle is currently a graduate student at the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management Program. She graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A. in Business Administration with a specialization in general management. Currently, she is the Product and Marketing Strategy Intern at Ticketmaster/Live Nation, hoping to upstart a future career in sport data analytics.
LinkedIn: This is an edited version of a paper Michelle prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Business Development & Sales class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by John P., "Jasons Season Ticket Seats", Accessed via Creative Commons license.