June 9, 2023

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle (10 Rules)

The sales cycle is the time from identifying a lead to closing the sale. While some sales cycles take a few months, you can take steps to shorten the sales cycle and convert more leads into customers faster. Shortening the sales cycle means generating more revenue in less time by being more productive and effective. Here are ten rules for shortening your sales cycle and closing more deals quicker.

Rule #1: Qualify Leads Properly

Spending time pursuing leads that are not ready to buy wastes valuable time and resources. Properly qualifying leads upfront can help filter out prospects that are not good fits and identify those ready to move forward.

Some ways to properly qualify leads include:

  • Ask who the decision makers are and what their timeline is
  • Understand their budget and what they’re trying to accomplish
  • Determine if their needs match your solutions
  • Gauge their knowledge of your product or service offerings
  • Uncover any potential objections or concerns they may have

By doing a thorough qualification, you can identify the leads most likely to move forward quickly. Pursuing underqualified leads is one of the biggest reasons sales cycles drag on. So take the time upfront to ensure a prospect is a good fit before investing significant time and effort. This will help you convert more qualified leads into shorter, more productive sales cycles.

In short, proper qualification frontloads the sales process to focus your efforts on the most promising prospects and shorten the sales cycle from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to disqualify unqualified leads - this will save you time and help you close more deals faster.

Rule #2: Establish Trust Fast

Trust is established once you have qualified leads so they feel comfortable moving forward with you. This can significantly shorten the sales cycle.

You can build trust quickly by:

  • Being transparent - Share relevant details about your product, company, and process openly
  • Being responsive - Respond to their questions and concerns promptly to show you value their time
  • Providing social proof - Showcase testimonials and case studies from similar clients
  • Offering guarantees - Provide a money-back or satisfaction guarantee to alleviate concerns
  • Presenting credentials - Share your expertise, experience, and certifications to establish credibility
  • Connecting on a personal level - Find common ground and show you understand their particular situation and needs

The more trust you can build in the early stages, the faster reluctant prospects will feel comfortable moving forward in the sales process. They’ll be more willing to share details, have tough conversations, and ultimately make a purchase decision.

So focus on building trust from the very first interaction. Answer questions thoroughly, be responsive, provide social proof, and show you truly understand their needs. The faster you establish trust, the shorter the sales cycle. Prospects will want to avoid dragging out conversations with a salesperson they feel they can rely on and do business with.

In summary, trust is the foundation for prospects to move confidently through sales. The faster you build that foundation, the sooner deals will likely get done.

Rule #3: Provide Value Immediately

Prospects want to work with vendors that can provide quick value. The sooner you can demonstrate value, the faster a sale will happen.

Here are some ways to provide value immediately:

  • Send relevant content - Links to articles, guides, templates, or other helpful resources related to their needs and goals.
  • Offer free tools/services - Provide access to free trial versions of your product, tools, or services to show value.
  • Give practical recommendations - Based on what you learn about them, suggest actionable recommendations of how you can help.
  • Provide comparable examples - Share examples of how you’ve helped similar clients to demonstrate potential value.
  • Point out issues/opportunities - Identify any warning signs, risks, wasted efforts, or untapped opportunities relevant to them.
  • Offer next steps - Suggest the most logical or highest impact next steps you could take together.

From the beginning, the key is to show them how working with you could solve problems, save time/money, improve processes, or provide some other practical benefit. This demonstration of value puts pressure on prospects to move forward and justify continuing a long sales cycle.

So as soon as you identify a qualified lead, think about what value you can immediately provide - sending helpful content, offering a free trial, making recommendations, or pointing out opportunities. The faster you demonstrate value, the more motivated prospects will be to progress through the sales process and close the deal.

In summary, prospects want vendors that can quickly make their lives easier or help them achieve their goals. The sooner you can demonstrate that value, the shorter the sales cycle will likely be as prospects seek to capitalize on that value.

Rule #4: Narrow Down Decision Makers Early

Getting all the right decision-makers involved early can drastically shorten your sales cycle. The longer it takes to identify and engage all key stakeholders, the longer the whole process will take.

You can narrow down decision-makers sooner by:

  • Asking who else needs to be involved - Don’t assume you’re talking to the only decision maker. Ask who else they see as critical to the purchase decision.
  • Identifying budget owners - Find out who controls the budget and who needs to sign off for funds to be allocated.
  • Uncovering technical stakeholders - If specific technical requirements or integrations are important, identify those teams that need approval.
  • Involving executive sponsors - Higher-level executives can cut through bureaucratic delays, so ask if they can help move things along.
  • Inviting additional participants - Once you know the key players, actively invite them to join discussions, demos, and presentations.
  • Looping in as needed - As you learn more about their unique process and politics, engage any additional decision-makers that seem important.

The sooner you can get the full team involved, the less likely major objections, issues, or unknowns will arise later in the process. The full group will also likely move more quickly to a purchase decision once all their questions and concerns are addressed.

So don’t be afraid to directly ask prospects who else needs to be involved early and often. Loop in as many decision-makers as possible at each stage to generate discussion, get buy-in, and move the group towards a unified decision. The smaller the decision-making group, the smaller the risk of delays and holdups - so aim to identify and engage that optimal group as early as possible.

In short, long sales cycles often result when the wrong decision-makers are involved at the wrong times. But you can drastically shorten your sales cycle by determining who needs to be involved upfront and looping them in early.

Rule #5: Understand Needs and Problems Clearly

Understanding your prospect’s specific needs, pain points, and desired outcomes is critical to shortening the sales cycle. The more clarity you have, the better positioned you’ll be to craft the right solution and address any objections.

To gain a thorough understanding, you’ll want to:

  • Have open discussions - Discuss their specific goals, obstacles, and requirements in detail. Ask open-ended questions to probe further.
  • Request examples - Ask for examples of issues they’re facing, outcomes they desire, and how they’ve tried to solve the problem in the past.
  • Uncover objections - Identify any potential concerns or reservations they may have upfront.
  • Listen actively - Give them your full attention, restate key points, and ask clarifying questions.
  • Confirm your understanding - Summarize what you’ve heard to confirm you truly understand their needs and priorities. Ask for feedback and clarification.

The aim is to paint as complete a picture as possible of what a successful outcome looks like to them and why. The more context you have, the more tailored your solutions can be and the better you’ll be able to address their specific concerns.

The clearer you can make prospects on what truly matters most to them and why, the more motivated they’ll be to make a purchase decision. Ambiguity, unknowns, and uncertainties lead to stalls and delays - so work to eliminate those through active listening and open discussion from the start.

In summary, the time you take upfront to fully uncover your prospects’ needs, pain points, and desired outcomes will pay off in a shorter, smoother sales cycle once you can provide precisely the right solution to fit their situation. Thorough understanding frontloads the sales process and puts you in the best position to close deals quickly and effectively.

Rule #6: Present Solutions that Match Exactly

Shorten the sales cycle by presenting solutions that fit your prospects’ unique needs and requirements based on your gathered insights.

Create tailored solutions by:

  • Highlighting features that directly address needs - Call out specific capabilities and functionalities that solve their problems or meet their objectives.
  • Explaining benefits that match priorities - Show how your solutions enable the outcomes that matter most to them.
  • Anticipating objections and constraints - Consider how you’ll overcome concerns and work within their limitations.
  • Offering flexible options - Present different levels, variants, and alternative packages to accommodate different budgets and preferences.
  • Emphasizing ROI and savings - Show how your solutions will improve efficiency, reduce costs or increase revenue depending on their goals.

The better you understand your prospects, the more precisely you can craft solutions that check all their boxes. This leaves little room for ambiguity or uncertainty, motivating them to press forward with a purchase.

Conversely, vague, generic solutions breed questions and doubts that drag out the sales cycle. So put in the work upfront to truly understand what prospects want and need, then present options that check all the right boxes for their unique situation.

In short, tailored solutions instill confidence and comfort, while generic solutions create doubt and prolong decision-making. The faster you can show prospects you “get it” and have precisely what they’re looking for, the shorter the sales cycle will likely be.

Rule #7: Address Concerns Proactively

Shorten the sales cycle by anticipating objections and proactively assuaging prospects’ concerns.

You can address concerns sooner by:

  • Identifying possible objections - Based on what you know about prospects’ needs and priorities, consider what objections may arise.
  • Bringing up objections yourself - Don’t wait for prospects to voice concerns. Bring them up first to show you’ve considered all angles.
  • Offering contingencies - Where appropriate, propose contingency plans or backup options to alleviate worries.
  • Providing references - Connect prospects with similar customers who can vouch for your solutions and capabilities.
  • Sharing case studies - Provide examples of how you’ve successfully addressed comparable concerns for other clients.
  • Highlighting your track record - Point to your history, experience, and expertise to assure prospects you can deliver.

The sooner you directly address likely concerns, the fewer time prospects will spend deliberating unknown risks or uncertainties. They’ll be more willing to move the deal forward once you’ve alleviated their worries thoughtfully and thoughtfully.

So anticipate objections based on your understanding of prospects’ needs. Don’t wait for objections to arise naturally - proactively bring them up yourself and provide assurances, contingencies, references, stories, and proofs that fit their situation. The thoroughness of your responses will build trust and confidence, shortening the sales cycle.

In summary, proactively addressing concerns head-on signals to prospects that you’ve considered all angles, leaving little room for doubt. The more reassured and at ease prospects feel, the faster they’ll likely be ready to move toward a purchase decision.

Rule #8: Follow Up Relentlessly but Respectfully

Shorten the sales cycle by following up consistently and respectfully without being annoying.

Follow up effectively by:

  • Setting expectations - Let prospects know you’ll follow up regularly to move the process along.
  • Having a system - Create a follow-up system that ensures consistent contact without being overbearing.
  • Using multiple channels - Alternate emails, calls, and messages to match prospects’ preferences.
  • Staying solution-focused - Tailor your follow-ups to address how you can help move their initiatives forward.
  • Providing value with every touch - Include helpful resources, insights, or recommendations with each follow-up.
  • Understanding obstacles - When you hear back, understand what’s holding prospects up and how to help.
  • Communicating progress - Follow up to ask for status and share your progress and next steps.
  • Respecting boundaries - Stop following up if told not to but circle back later to inquire if their needs have changed.

Relentless follow-up keeps deals moving at a steady pace instead of stagnating. But prospects will only tolerate follow-up that feels genuinely helpful and considerate rather than pushy sales tactics.

So establish a consistent yet tailored follow-up system and rhythm that provides value with every touchpoint. Prospects will come to expect - and even appreciate - your regular communications if they feel you truly want to help move their initiatives forward, not just close the sale.

In short, follow up endlessly but sensitively. The right follow-up reinforces your credibility, builds rapport, and pressures prospects to decide. The longer they put off making a purchase, the more value they lose - so your consistent touches can serve as a “wake-up call” to move deals along.

Rule #9: Get Commitment at Every Interaction

Shorten the sales cycle by getting some level of commitment from prospects after every interaction - whether a next step, promise, or written summary.

Secure small commitments by:

  • Clarifying next steps - After demos, discussions, or deliverables, confirm the immediate next step both parties need to take.
  • Setting timeline promises - Get prospects to commit to a timeline by which they’ll have done their research, gained approvals, etc.
  • Sending next step emails - Follow up interactions with an email outlining the next steps and promised timelines.
  • Requesting priorities in writing - Ask prospects to send a summary of their priorities, requirements, and timeline.
  • Getting agreements in principle - Secure a tentative “agreement in principle” pending further details.
  • Gaining partial budget approvals - If appropriate, ask for partial budget approvals to keep moving forward.

Small commitments like confirming the next steps, agreeing to timelines, or writing down priorities keep the sales process progressing steadily. The more stakeholders feel accountable for the next actions and timelines, the more motivated they’ll be to avoid missed commitments.

So after every sales discussion, demo, delivery, or development, get a commitment that keeps the deal moving forward - a next step, promise, timeline, written summary, agreement in principle, or partial approval. These small wins accumulate, ultimately resulting in a full purchase decision.

In summary, obtain commitments of any size after every interaction to keep the sales cycle progressing consistently. The bigger the aggregate of small commitments, the greater the pressure on prospects to make a final purchase decision.

Rule #10: Ask for the Sale Whenever Possible

Shorten the sales cycle by asking for the sale as soon as prospects are ready and being willing to accept no for an answer.

Ask for the sale sooner by:

  • Closing initially qualified leads quickly - For clearly ready leads, close as early as possible to avoid delay.
  • Making firm offers - Once prospects’ needs are understood and solutions are presented, make a definitive purchase offer.
  • Asking for a yes or no - Don’t beat around the bush - directly ask prospects if they’ll move forward with a purchase.
  • Handling objections swiftly - When prospects say no, work to overcome their objections quickly vs. dragging out discussions.
  • Securing commitments - Get partial commitments where possible, even if not a full purchase.
  • Circling back regularly - Continue following up with prospects who say no in case their needs change.

Prospects won’t make a purchase decision until you ask for one. So be willing to ask and risk hearing “no” to potentially hear “yes” sooner.

By asking for the sale as early as possible once prospects are qualified and comfortable, you challenge them to decide for or against you. This speeds up the process versus waiting organically for them to make the purchase decision. And when they say no, you work to overcome objections swiftly instead of prolonging discussions endlessly.

In short, unwillingness to ask for the sale is one of the biggest reasons sales cycles drag on. So be willing to risk rejection to potentially secure acceptance - and when prospects do say no, work to change their minds quickly or circle back once circumstances evolve.

By frequently seeking closure, you’ll shorten the sales cycle overall, even if that means hearing “no” sometimes in the short term.

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle Using Product Demos

Here are some ways using a product demo tool can help shorten your sales cycle:

  • Demonstrate functionality and features quicker - A demo tool allows you to give quick, targeted product demonstrations that show prospects exactly how your solution works and its value. This speeds up the evaluation process and allows prospects to move forward faster once they understand your solution meets their needs.
  • Overcome objections in real time - You can use a real-time demo tool to overcome prospects’ objections and concerns by showing them exactly how your solution addresses their issues. This alleviates worries and unlocks buying decisions faster versus lengthy follow-up discussions.
  • Engage multiple stakeholders at once - Your demo tool can include all key decision makers from the beginning, engaging the full team and allowing them to have their questions answered upfront. The full group can move more quickly to a purchase decision once satisfied.
  • Tailor demos perfectly - You can customize and save multiple demo workflows configured to address different prospects’ unique requirements and pain points. This ensures your demonstrations are targeted and tailored to shorten each sales cycle.
  • Reduce the need for follow-up - Thorough, targeted demos upfront mean less need for follow-up questions and discussions later. Prospects can move straight to the next steps once their needs are met versus needing more information.
  • Gain commitment sooner - Prospects are more likely to commit to the next steps and timelines after an effective demo that shows their solution is the right fit. This keeps the sales process progressing versus stagnating.

A product demo tool for sales allows you to demonstrate value, functionality, and ROI potential much quicker and more effectively, enabling prospects to move forward in their buying journey sooner versus delayed or drawn-out demonstrations. Targeted, tailored, and thorough demos upfront ultimately result in shorter sales cycles.


In conclusion, frontloading your sales process through careful qualification, trust-building, value demonstration, need discovery, and tailored solution creation puts you in the best position to shorten the sales cycle. By proactively addressing prospects’ issues and requirements, providing consistent follow-up, securing commitments at every step, and being willing to make firm offers and ask for the sale, you’ll close more deals in less time.

The keys to a shorter sales cycle are:

  1. Focusing your efforts on qualified leads most likely to buy
  2. Building trust and rapport from the very beginning
  3. Demonstrating value and ROI immediately
  4. Engaging the full decision-making team as early as possible
  5. Gaining a thorough understanding of needs, problems, and desired outcomes
  6. Crafting solutions that precisely match those unique requirements
  7. Anticipating concerns and objections and alleviating them proactively
  8. Providing regular yet respectful follow-ups focused on the next steps
  9. Securing some level of commitment after every interaction
  10. Being willing to actually “close” the sale whenever prospects are ready

A well-executed sales process designed for speed will result in shorter sales cycles, even if that means occasionally hearing “no” sooner. Over time, the revenue generated from the deals you close quickly will make up for prospects lost due to an unwillingness to drag things out. So focus your energy on qualifying leads properly, building relationships fast, and crafting tailored solutions that enable prospects to say “yes” sooner.

Cover Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

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