The acquisition process is a sequence of consecutive stages aimed at achieving the goal of acquiring new customers and making transactions or getting orders from potential buyers.
We can distinguish seven elements that make up the sale process:
- searching for potential buyers or clients, and then categorizing them
- initial recognition as well as preparation of the meeting
- establishing contact with the client
- presentation and demonstration of the product
- overcoming objections and resistance from the buyer
- finalizing the transaction
- post-sale activities
Searching for clients
The first step in the sale process involves searching for customers. It consists in identifying, qualifying and identifying potential buyers. This is done by means of advertising, exhibitions, recommendations, random recruitment, mailing and telephone lists, directories and telemarketing (telephone conversations). Properly conducted qualification allows to determine which persons, companies, organizations or institutions could benefit from the company's offer in terms of their financial capabilities, special needs, location, sales growth opportunities, etc.
Preliminary diagnosis - preparation of the meeting
Before a commercial visit to a potential customer, the seller should gather as much information as possible about their needs (what are their needs, nature of business, preferences, information about people who influence their decisions and about the features and style of making them). This stage is called the initial diagnosis. To get information about the company, the seller can use their own observations, information from customers, standard company directories or other sources of information (e.g. internet). An important element of this stage is also setting the goals of a commercial visit (e.g. an attempt to qualify the customer, gather information, make immediate sales) and reflect on the general sales strategy chosen individually for a given client.
The next stage: making contact - is aimed at attracting the attention of the customer, stimulating their interest and building the basis for a sales presentation, which allows establishing good and long-term relationships, as well as a successful cooperation.
Trade presentation is the most important part of the sales process. It is the basis for obtaining orders, and its purpose is to transform a potential customer into a customer by arousing the will to have a given product or service. Useful in the presentation can be all kinds of product models, video tapes, catalogs, brochures, boards, slides, etc. Product samples are particularly useful because thanks to the possibility of trying them, watching or touching, the buyers will better remember its features and benefits of having. We can distinguish three types of product presentation:
- routine (it consists in the presentation of an accurate, systematized and memorized scheme or scenario covering the most important issues and information),
- based on the general formula (the seller first defines the needs of the consumer, and then presents to the customer how the product will meet his needs),
- focused on satisfying the clients needs (the salesperson starts by examining the needs by talking, probing and hearing a potential client, then using the information he has obtained, he corrects the presentation to individually outline the benefits that he can achieve from purchasing the product).
Overcoming objections and resistance
Almost always when the product is presented by the seller, the buyer has some doubts. The ability to overcome objections is one of the most important features a seller should have. In this stage, he identifies, explains and overcomes the reservations raised by the client. Proceeding in the face of resistance requires appropriate behavior during discussion, respect for the buyer's opinion and the ability to make contacts.
Finalizing the transaction
After overcoming customer objections, the seller gets the opportunity to finalize the transaction. The closing stage of the sales process involves obtaining purchase guarantees from a potential customer. The seller should know how to perceive signals from the buyers, which can indicate that the recipient is ready to make a purchase transaction. These can be all kinds of comments, questions and, above all, non-verbal signals. By closing the contract, the seller can use one of the three closing techniques:
- trial closure (consists in asking the client for a decision regarding a given aspect of the sale)
- closure with the premise of purchase (consists in asking the buyer to make a choice regarding the terms of delivery, warranty, payment assuming that the sale has already been finalized)
- immediate closure (consists in encouraging the buyer to buy, citing the time limit related to the purchase)
The last stage in the acquisition process are after-sales activities. This is a necessary action if the seller wants to get satisfaction from the customer and the opportunity to conclude another transaction. It should also confirm the buyer in the belief that he made a good purchase, control the performance of the contract, and maintain an uninterrupted and good contact with the client (also in cases where the transaction was not carried out).
- Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. W. (1988). Value maximization and the acquisition process. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2(1), 7-20.
- Smith Jr, C. W. (1986). Investment banking and the capital acquisition process. Journal of Financial Economics, 15(1-2), 3-29.