How to Shrink the Sales Cycle

How do you shrink the sales cycle?   It’s an age old question.

JFrager asked me to take this on.  It’s a good topic.  So, here we go.

First, you can’t just “shrink” a sales cycle.  It is what it is; like most things in life, there ain’t no easy path.  Their ain’t no shortcuts.   Like everything else in life and business, results take time and effort — that being said you can keep it from being longer than it should and that is where the win is.

A long sales cycle is less about the sales cycle and everything about the sales team and sales person.    To shorten a sales cycle requires internal management and attention.

Moving through a sales cycles as quickly as possible requires focus in 3 areas; sales operations, personel and cadence.

Sales Operations:

To ensure the most efficient and streamlined sales cycle possible, sales operations is critical.  This means a customized gated sales process must be in place; a gated sales process that is completely aligned with your business and your customers buying patterns.  A funnel management system or CRM tool also has to be in place and used religiously.  Finally, a customer governance model needs to be leveraged.   The fat and waste in a sales cycle can’t be trimmed if the sales cycle isn’t documented (gated sales process), the funnel can’t be managed and there is no engagement process (governance model)  that keeps sales in front of the customer regularly.

A shorter sales cycle depends on data, context and interaction.  Without them, sales will flail and that means longer sales cycles.


The right people is also critical.  Getting the right people on the team who understand how to manage the customer, the pipeline and the sale, plays a huge role in shorter cycles.   Good sales people know when to cut their losses, when to ask for the sale, what levers to pull, who to engage etc.   Good sales people operate from an efficiency model that minimizes sales cycles.   Good people working within a strong sales operations model makes all the difference.  Like everything, it’s the people.


Cadence brings it all together.  Cadence is the ongoing meetings, opportunity reviews, pipeline assessment, etc.   Cadence provides insight to the data and underlying information impacting the sales cycle.  Cadence is where the dissection of the problems happens.  Cadence identifies what is stuck and why.  It identifies the friction in the process and allows you to remove the friction as quickly as possible.  Cadence needs to be thorough and regular.

Sales cycles can’t be shortened, unless of course, we’ve already made them too long.  A sales cycle is what it is.   Sales then mucks them all up chasing opportunities that aren’t going anywhere or not having access to the right people at the right time, or not listening to the client or trying to sell (push) a product that doesn’t fit, etc.   All kinds of things can slow or mess up a sales cycle.

If you want to “speed” up the sales cycle, don’t slow it down.

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