Most everyone is familiar with the concept of a vicious cycle, or vicious circle (i.e., a repeating sequence of connected events in which each cycle reinforces the previous one, in this case, negatively).

In sales, a Vicious Sales Cycle stems from bad sales practices that lead to poor results combined with an inability or unwillingness to change, which leads in turn to a never-ending, self-reinforcing cycle of unacceptable sales performance. Unfortunately too many sales professionals operate within a Vicious Sales Cycle.

What are some key behaviors that open the door to a vicious sales cycle?

1. Lack of consistently applied sales processes. Success in sales is based on a foundation of well-defined, documented sales processes (and associated metrics) that establish clear expectations for how selling should occur in your organization.

2. Lack of responsiveness. Today’s customer is substantially pre-educated about your product or service before they ever engage with your sales team. By definition, when they do contact you for the first time their need for information in order to make a decision is urgent.

3. Lack of urgency. See #2 above. The timeframe for every sales action should be immediate. It’s what customers expect. Anything less is the start of a slippery slope.

4. Lack of product knowledge and business acumen. Customers rely on you to provide the necessary content and context they require to make a fully informed purchase decision. Customers will be reluctant to invest their time to build relationships with sellers who can’t provide value.

Your goal should be to build a Virtuous Sales Cycle. A virtuous cycle is defined as a “Self-propagating advantageous situation in which a successful solution leads to more of a desired result or another success which generates still more desired results or successes in a chain.”

A Virtuous Sales Cycle is what happens when best sales practices are consistently applied to produce above-average results, which in turn create a chain of positive results that feed off of each other to generate even better performance.

Therefore, the aim of every salesperson should be to convert their sales efforts into Virtuous Sales Cycles rather than the all-too-typical Vicious Sales Cycle in which unresponsive, time-wasting sales behaviors spiral downwards into a never-ending series of poor performance.

What are a few of the behaviors you should use to create and perpetuate a Virtuous Sales Cycle?

1. Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time. Selling with Maximum Impact in the Least Time means that every interaction with a customer must be pre-planned to achieve the maximum impact and provide the maximum value for the customer with the least investment of their time possible.

2. Be absolutely responsive to the customer in Zero-Time. Because the timeframe for every sales action is immediate anything that you put off, any customer interaction that you defer until later, is less likely to ever occur. In my training courses I teach that “later” lives on the same street as “never.”

3. Continually fine-tune your sales processes. Nothing stays the same. Products change. Customers change. Technology changes. How you sell your product, and the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your processes, have to evolve to keep pace with these changes.

Let’s put this in context and see how you can use these to initiate your Virtuous Sales Cycle. What happens when you consistently sell with Maximum Impact and enable your customers to make informed purchase decisions with a smaller investment of their time? By virtue of selling more effectively you will naturally compress the customers’ buying cycle. Compressing their buying cycle will not only win you more orders it will also create more selling time for you to sell to additional prospects. (Reduce your prospects’ buying cycle by 5% then you will suddenly have 5% more sales time. This could be equal to an extra 13 selling days per year. How many more orders could you win with that extra time?) If you sell to these additional prospects in the same effective manner then this process of positive sales outcomes becomes self-propagating. Success begets success and you have kick-started your Virtuous Sales Cycle. Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A frequent speaker, Andy conducts workshops and consults with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to sell more by selling faster. Visit for more.

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