Fact: Only 44% of Salespeople are meeting their targets!

Could this be the reason?

A Non-Supportive Buy Cycle – How it undermines the success of your salespeople and how to fix it!

A White Paper on Professional Selling by Gary Delbridge

“You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand!”
– Robert Louis Stephenson

Selling is a tough job. What a salesperson doesn’t need are hidden weaknesses undermining their sales skills. The most damaging of these hidden weaknesses is a Non- Supportive Buy Cycle. This white paper will explain how this weakness impacts your company’s sales results and how to fix it.

Observers of human behaviour will tell us that we are attracted to two types of people, those people that are like us and those that like us! This simple observation is vitally important in understanding how our salespeople interact with their potential customers and why they often fail to close business.

Our acceptance of other people and their beliefs is strongly aligned with our own beliefs and behaviours. Imagine for a moment that you are a salesperson within your organisation. How is it that your buying behaviour will impact how effective you are at selling?

    • Like many people you may have a tendency to thoroughly research each significant purchase before making a buying decision.
    • You may go online and read reviews of what it is you are interested in buying.
    • You may compare brands to see which has what feature or benefit. Once armed with this information you may go to 2 or 3 stores to look for the best deal and,
    • Once you have reached this point it may be time to call in the “better half” to get their “buy in” to the purchase.


There is nothing unusual about any or all of these buying behaviours as they make up your “Record Collection”; the beliefs that you have accumulated over time that make up who you are.

In a salesperson, these buying habits make you vulnerable to these same behaviours when dealing with prospective customers. If the prospect wants to shop around, you will see this as natural because you would do it. If they want to look for a better price or gain a discount you are likely to give them this because, once again, that’s how you shop. Likewise with getting other quotes or asking for a proposal; you will accept all of these delays in closing the sale because you yourself would “buy” in this manner. This is a “Non Supportive Buy Cycle”

“How you buy is how you sell”

According to Objective Management Group (OMG) who have assessed over 500,000 salespeople for more than 8,500 companies, a Non-Supportive Buy Cycle is the most important weakness found in salespeople, handicapping them from achieving their true potential. They go on to say:

When a candidate has a non-supportive Buy Cycle it indicates that the manner in which this person goes about the process of buying something for him/herself does not support the selling process.

Impact: This candidate will be vulnerable to prospects who buy the same way as he/she does. If the prospect wants to ‘think it over’ and that’s what the salesperson usually does, no technique will be effective because the salesperson understands the stall. Same goes for price shoppers, comparison shoppers and researchers.

The harsh reality is that we need our salespeople to be decision makers and have supportive buy cycles because according to additional data from OMG, only 44% of the 55,000 salespeople that were evaluated in 2010 were hitting their sales targets.

A non-supportive buy cycle will prevent sales from being closed which will invariably lead to pipeline bloat; prospects that remain in the pipeline with little possibility of them being closed.

So often a salesperson with this weakness will be convinced that the prospect will eventually buy from them once they have carried out more research or checked competitive offerings. They believe that they will eventually come back to them. Experience tells us that this is highly unlikely to occur as the salesperson will not have fully qualified the prospect or gained an understanding of the real needs and problems that they are looking to solve.

How do we know this? Because the sales process is stopped immediately the prospect uses one of their delaying tactics. If a prospect wants to think it over or do some comparison shopping, they have effectively stopped the sales call prior to your salesperson qualify them. No techniques will be effective in regaining control of the sales call because the salesperson understands and buys into the stall.

So, what can you do to overcome this problem within your sales team?

Being able to recognise this selling weakness in your sales team and in particular your Sales Manger is a great start. It’s important to understand that these are usually hidden problems that only manifest themselves during the sales process.

If you are a Sales Manager, start coaching your team to help them overcome their indecisiveness when buying. If you are a CEO, ensure that your Sales Manager is actively looking for these issues in his team members. I’ve listed a few key strategies for success that you can adopt by shifting the way you think. These will help you gain control.

    • Identify which of your salespeople’s buying behaviours are not supportive of your company’s selling objectives and have them list how they might undermine them in when dealing with prospects.
    • Ensuring that your salespeople are alert during the sales call of stall or put offs that relate to their own buying weaknesses and help them develop strategies to counter these stalls and overcome their tendency to buy into them.
    • Having your Sales Manager debrief their salespeople after each sales call to identify where they remain susceptible to these stalls or delays.
    • Those that have this weakness need to break their own buying pattern by making a relatively large purchase without hesitation.
    • They need to develop trust in their buying decisions and then stick with them.
    • They need to stop looking for validation of their decisions and have more faith in themselves.


As a CEO, understanding the negative impact that a non-supportive buy cycle has on your sales strategies is vital. It is critical that your sales team, from this time on, focus on what you seek from prospects – a decision!