Customer Success

8 Bad Sales Habits You Need to Eliminate

March 1, 2012

Bad habits have a way of creeping up on people and it’s no different for sales people.

Day 103, Project 365 - 2.2.10

I don’t believe that sales people intentionally decide to use an ineffective approach or tactic; however, there are several bad habits that sales people develop over time that prevent them from closing more deals and increasing their sales.

Here are eight bad sales habits you need to eliminate:

1. Setting low goals

The best sales people I know set high, ambitious goals. They don’t wait for their manager, boss or company to set targets and quotas; they are proactive in determining what they want to accomplish in a given month, quarter or year.

I know you don’t want to set yourself up for failure or have to set an even higher goal for yourself next year. But, top performers constantly push themselves to do better and achieve more. As a result, they usually do. And for sales people, this leads to making more money.

2. Making excuses

“Our competitors are cheaper.”

“The economy is bad.”

“My territory is too big, too small, too spread out, etc.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of making excuses why you’re not hitting your targets. But the bottom line is that it is your responsibility to find a way to succeed. You will seldom catch a top sales person complaining about things that are out of their control. Instead, they focus on what they can do to achieve the desired results.

3. Pitching before understanding

Walking into a prospect’s office and firing up your laptop, iPad, Tablet, etc. and launching into your sales pitch before you have solid grasp of their unique and specific situation is one of the worst habits that sales people make.

Although it is essential to be prepared with a solution, you also need to validate or confirm your understanding of the prospect’s situation BEFORE you start your sales presentation. As Stephen Covey so wisely states, “Seek first to understand.”

4. Lack of preparation

In last Wednesday’s post, “3 Ways to Ace Your Next Sales Call” I cited preparation as a key factor to close more sales.

Effective preparation includes knowing as much about your prospect as possible, planning your sales call opening, outlining the key points you plan to make during your meeting, and anticipating potential concerns and objections.

5. Inability to handle sales objections

Objections are a natural part of the sales process. However, how you handle and respond to sales objections will determine your sales effectiveness and influence your ability to close sales.

Most sales people encounter several objections yet very few people take the time to prepare effective responses to these concerns. I once worked with a sales person who developed excellent rebuttals to every objection he encountered. Not surprisingly, he was one of the top performers in the company.

6. Not gaining commitment

Not every sales interaction is going to end in a deal. But, every conversation should conclude with some form of commitment for the next steps.

Unfortunately, many sales people leave the door wide open and say something like, “Okay, Mr. Smith, I’ll get that information to you by tomorrow and follow-up with you next week.”

In their eyes they are moving the sales process forward. However, this approach does not confirm a specific day and time to reconnect with their prospect. As a result, they often fail to connect with that person and lose the sales opportunity.

7. Not clarifying vague statements

Prospects often make vague statements such as:

“We’re not on track to reach our targets.”

“Traffic is down.”

“Productivity is lower than it was last year.”

In many cases, the sales person takes these comments at face value and interprets them differently than the prospect intended. Top sales people assertively clarify vague statements to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of the prospect’s thoughts and concerns.

8. Interrupting

Sales people often interrupt their prospects in mid-sentence to interject their own perspective or comment or to pitch their product or service. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this bad sales habit usually because I feel compelled to comment on something my customer has said.


Close more sales and earn more respect and credibility by eliminating these bad sales from your approach.

Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.