Ok Lets start by acknowledge that most sales are not a single moment , they happen as a result of a number of steps. Unless you are selling to the impulse buyer you will have a journey
Is important to mind the difference between your sales journey and your customer buyer journey . They are related but are not the same
The Buyer journey is what every person who has a need have to experience to solve that need. That happens independently of you or any other vendor . They have to feel the need( a problem or an interest) , learn how to solve it and decide to do or to do nothing. You can read more about it here
The Sales is your relation to that prospect .How you do help them in those steps, like helping to learn the options to solve their problems and to fairly compare solutions to discover that yours is the best.
So those are related to "topic " at hand ( problem or interest) but they are other steps or things that need to happen in order for you to be able to actually help them to choose you.
You need to have a relationship of any sort so they have the chance to learn what you have to say. And for that message to actually have any chance of influence them , you have to have built any sort of relation. The best is to have built some credibility , show some proof of value and then drive some urgency or fear of missing out . After all you are trying to sale something that requires to fight the "nothing happens" inertia , you need to drive the action to move them to the step.
So all all these steps are the sales journey . And the same as every buyer pass through different stages while solving their need.
The sales stages exist even if you do formally acknowledges them . So is better to learn them to prepare for them. So you can decide how to play them or which to skip or compaq together.
You can simplify in 3 broad stages like Awareness, Evaluation and Purchase . But this is often used for mapping Marketing iniciatives so is an oversimplicacion ( or aggregation) of the typical steps.
More commonly Sales stages are bewteen 7 and 9 . But again some of them - like the Nurturing or the presenting of solution can last several months with multiple interactions
1. Identify lead / Lean Generated / Build the List
2. Connect / Approach the client / Open Relactionship
3. Discover client needs . This is an obvious and essential stage that could be " embeded" in the process if you are prospecting by buying signals. Or could require a number of subsequent steps if you need to i) get access to ii) gain the right to ask questions and iii) qualify their needs
4. Nurturing ( the "education" required depens largely of where the buyer is in their buyer stage )
5. Provide a solution / Demo
- Appointment scheduled (20%)
- Qualified to buy (40%)
- Presentation scheduled (60%)
- Decision maker bought-in (80%)
- Contract sent (90%)
6. Close the sale
7. Complete the sale and follow up
Definitions vary and eventually are up to you , the way you sell and the way your customers buy.
There are nearly infinite possibilities so that´s way the best is to use your very own ones and not something defined by the software that you use.
For you reference here a list with typical stages and sample templates