How to stop undermining your performance, and save your sales.

Getting caught in the cyclone of a vicious sales cycle is a looming trap. Take one wrong step, and you’re pulled into the eye of the storm. Sales quotas loom, and we neglect the basics of customer interaction, respect, and basic sales behaviors. There’s no way out.

My colleague, Andy Paul, author of Zero-Time Selling, clearly describes four sales traps that stem from bad habits. Take a quick read and avoid these sales traps at all costs. And, if you haven’t read Andy’s book, get it now.

I’ve invited Andy to write about the opposite: a virtuous sales cycle. Look for that post next week.

Nearly 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).

The Vicious Sales Cycle Crushes Your Sales Performance

In sales, a vicious sales cycle stems from bad sales practices, which lead to poor sales results. These bad practices (think of them as bad habits)—combined with an inability or unwillingness to change—lead, in turn, to a never-ending, self-reinforcing cycle of unacceptable sales performance. Unfortunately too many sales professionals operate within a Vicious Sales Cycle.

Vicious Sales Cycle Behaviors (or, What to Not Do)

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.

The all-too-typical vicious sales cycle perpetuates unresponsive, time-wasting sales behaviors that spiral downward into a never-ending series of poor performance. 

Your goal should be to build a virtuous sales cycle (see Andy Paul’s upcoming article, on the Virtuous Sales Cycle). A virtuous sales cycle means applying best sales practices consistently to produce above-average results. These in turn create a chain of positive results that feed off of each other to generate even better performance.

Feeling Vicious? Comment Here

Are you, or your sales organization, caught in a vicious sales cycle? What’s your process and does it work for you, the organization, and your clients? Need help getting out, leaving the dark side, and coming to the light? Comment here, and we’ll help.


Andy Paul, the CEO and founder of Zero-Time Selling®, is the leading expert on selling with speed.  With more than 30 years in the sales business as a successful sales professional and sales vice president in companies ranging from raw startups to Fortune 1000, Andy is a frequently sought-after speaker, executive sales coach and sales process consultant.  Andy is also the author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling™: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. Contact Andy Paul: