The Buying Cycle and the Sales Cycle

The Sales Cycle is the sequence of steps that vendors follow to engage with customers throughout their Buying Cycle, as shown below.

Buying and Sales Cycles

As you can see, the Sales Cycle includes all of the customer-facing activities of marketing, sales, distribution and customer service.

Across the 5 steps of the Sales Cycle, vendors have a choice of many resources for communicating with customers and for providing products and services to customers. The resources can be internal or external to the vendor. For communications, the resources include a wide variety of media (websites, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, the vendor’s newsletter, etc.). To provide the vendor’s product or service, the resources include many different types of sales and distribution channels (e-commerce, telesales, catalog, retail, specialized resellers, distributors, etc.). After-sale services can also be provided by various resources (systems integrators, call centers, factory repair, field repair, self-service, etc.).

A “route” is a combination of internal or external resources that moves the customer from the beginning to the end of the Sales Cycle.

The Routes-to-Market methodology helps vendors plan, operate and optimize their routes. Optimized routes produce more revenue and profit per dollar spent on marketing, sales, distribution and customer service.

The RTM methodology was originally developed by the authors at IBM and has been subsequently adopted by Adobe Systems, Canon, Cisco, F5 Networks, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Plantronics, Sharp, Sun Microsystems and other companies. The authors’ book, Building Routes to Customers, includes case studies on some of these companies’ use of RTM.

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