I find a great deal of satisfaction introducing young people to a career in sales. Our company transitions proven counter sales people to outside sales through a step program titled, “inside/out.”

Those in transition make face-to-face calls on small accounts one day per week. My privilege is to assist them on their first prospective calls. What is most satisfying is their teachability; they have no preconceived sales liabilities, and they’re constantly enthusiastic, always wanting to know, “What comes next?”

Whether you are a seasoned rep or a neophyte, applying this proven sales cycle as if you’ve never made a call before will yield significant results.

1. Build trust — People like to buy, not be sold. When meeting a prospect, sales reps often hear, “I’m happy with my current supplier,” or “Just send me a quote.” These are sales deflections similar to what you may offer when you walk into a shoe store and say, “I’m just looking.” Before a sale is made the buyer must trust the seller. This is the most important part of the sales cycle.

2. Discover the need — If and when a client trusts the seller they will naturally direct the rep to their need. It never ceases to amaze me how a prospect, who claims to be happy with their current supplier at the start of the call, begins to share their need once trust has been established.

3. Qualify the customer — Find the committed buyer. The initial contact in a business may become a good friend, but if he doesn’t have the authority to make the purchase, the sale won’t happen. The best way to find authority is to ask, “Besides you and me, who else will be involved in buying this product or service?”

4. Get a commitment — No sale is made without an agreement to buy. Ask the question, “If I could show you a solution to your need, will you buy it from me?” If the decision-maker won’t agree to commit, you will need to go back to building more trust before you will find out why he won’t commit.

5. Prove the solution — Disclose the product or service that will meet the need by dollarizing a savings. You must demonstrate that the cost of your solution has a proven return on investment.

Notice, I don’t have “close the sale” or “ask for the order” as a last step in this sales cycle. If performed effectively, the customer will buy by simply asking for the order. You should never have to ask yourself the question, “What comes next?”

Art Waskey is Senior VP of Sales for General Air Services and Supply Company in Denver, CO, and author of “The Art of Sales in One Month” and “The Art of Sales in a Second Month.” He can be reached at awaskey@generalair.com.