The Experience Cycle
In this article, we contrast the “sales cycle” andrelated models with the “experience cycle” model.The sales cycle model is a traditional tool inbusiness. The sales cycle frames the producer-customer relationship from the producer’s pointof view and aims to funnel potential customers toa transaction. The experience cycle is a new tool,synthesizing and giving form to a broader, moreholistic approach being taken by growing numbersof designers, brand experts, and marketers. Theexperience cycle frames the producer-customerrelationship from the customer’s point of view andaims to move well beyond a single transactionto establish a relationship between producer andcustomer and foster an on-going conversation.We acknowledge the sales cycle model has value.And designers need to be familiar with it. But whenthe sales cycle comes up as a topic of discussion ina client engagement, designers should also think ofthe experience cycle as an alternative frame—andshould introduce it into the discussion. We believethe experience cycle is a more useful model notonly for designers but also for marketing andsales people, because it is more likely to lead to anexperience of lasting value for customers, and thusgreater long-term value for producers.
Hugh Dubberly and Shelley Evenson
The “sales cycle” is a model commonly used inbusiness. It often frames the basic structure ofmarketing and sales activities, providing a practicaltemplate for planning.The sales cycle describes the series of steps leadingto a sale (or purchase), including awareness,consideration, and selection. The goal is topush customers to buy—advertising to increasefamiliarity, informing to build knowledge, offeringincentives to close a deal.The sales cycle also refers to the time required tocomplete the sales process. The length of the salescycle varies depending on the cost, complexity,and context of use of the product being sold.For example, a hospital information system mighthave a three-year sales cycle; a new game consolemight have a sales cycle lasting a few daysor weeks.The sales cycle does not have a single, canonicalform. Many variations appear in the literature, andin practice people often tailor the model addingor subtracting steps to ﬁt their own situations. Acommon characteristic of sales cycle models is thefunnel shape, a visual analogy to a process thatbegins with a large pool of candidates, narrows toa group of interested prospects, and narrows againto those who purchase. The funnel model is usefulin managing a “sales pipeline”. Deﬁning a series ofsteps in the sales process creates opportunities forsetting goals, tracking performance, and analyzingeffectiveness, which makes forecasting morereliable and enables improvement of the process.