50 Bad Sales Habits To Eliminate

We develop habits over time. Use this list to see where you have opportunity to improve your sales performance.

When it comes to bad sales habits, I’ve done them all and still struggle to have mastery over them. In fact, this list was compiled from the things I’ve done wrong and my personal observations of thousands of salespeople. It’s fascinating that we have a tendency to fall into similar patterns of behavior given certain circumstances.

Here’s the list of 50 bad sales habits. See which ones you might need to work on:

1. Insufficient or non-existent qualifying — stop chasing unqualified buyers who can’t or won’t buy.

2. Possessing a poverty-consciousness — replace it with a prosperity-consciousness.

3. Attempting to sell to “off-target” buyers — these are low probability opportunities.

4. Prospecting procrastination — lead generation is the lifeblood of your business.

5. Leading off a sales call with your product/service — it’s all about the buyer.

6. Relying exclusively on “company-generated leads” — self-generated leads.

7. Failure to establish sufficient trust and rapport — trust is a premium qualifier.

8. Wasting time constantly checking your email — and FB, and Twitter, etc.

9. Talking about non-relevant issues with the buyer — know what they’re thinking.

10. Interrupting the buyer — be patient to allow them to finish their thought.

11. Not practicing your selling skills — don’t just wing it on sales calls.

12. Relying on landing a big sale to achieve your quota — fish in the ocean and the pond.

13. Lack of product knowledge — read the manual, take a class, bring an expert.

14. Failure to fire bad customers — not all business is good business.

15. Mistaking any activity for productivity — align activities to your goals.

16. Skipping steps in your sales process — especially the first few.

17. Talking more than listening — ask, listen, and repeat.

18. Assuming sales is purely a numbers game — quality counts.

19. Failure to translate features/benefits into “buyer value” — “What this means to you is…”

20. Avoiding customer concerns — listening to customer concerns means you learn something new.

21. Getting tied down with excessive administrative tasks — limit your time to only your priorities.

22. Failure to develop an ideal customer profile — knowing whom to sell to is priority one.

23. Presenting your offering too soon — how will you know unless you ask questions first?

24. Presenting price too soon — “Hello… it’s $50.”

25. Selling past the close — focus on delivery and what happens next.

26. Not asking enough questions — prepare a set of well-crafted questions prior to your call.

27. Failure to clarify using follow-up questions — Why? How so? What do you mean by that?

28. Focusing sales conversations on product and price — instead of value (people buy value).

29. Failure to educate yourself about your prospect — LinkedIn? Company website?

30. Not asking the right type of questions — closed-ended, open-ended, needs-based.

31. Giving a standard presentation — failure to customize.

32. No follow-up or follow-through during the sales process — nurturing is a skill unto itself.

33. Using poor grammar — speaking and writing.

34. Not spell checking — failure to spell rite can bee a problem.

35. Using trial closes — If I could show you a way to save money…

36. Opening with presumptive solutions — I can save you money!

37. Using industry buzz words — don’t do it, it alienates the buyer.

38. Guessing what the customer wants — maybe you could just ask them?

39. Using product brochures as sales collateral — commercial printers love you; receptionists don’t.

40. Panicking about quota at the end of the month — buyers will know you’re desperate.

41. Mismatching your rate of speech with the buyers — too fast or too slow.

42. Selective hearing — be present and in the moment with buyers, so check your ADHD.

43. Being late to appointments — sorry, but I knocked myself out in the shower this morning.

44. Being disorganized — being organized improves productivity and confidence.

45. Prospecting without credible collateral or purpose statements — take me to your leader!

46. Never apologizing — fess up to your mistakes – people like honesty and humility.

47. Always apologizing — this indicates a lack of confidence and breeds distrust from buyers.

48. Allowing external factors to steal your motivation — compartmentalize personal issues.

49. Over explaining failure — keep explanations to a minimum and focus on resolutions.

50. Selling exclusively on price — some buy on price, but most buy on value.


Failure to recognize bad sales habits — solicit feedback from those you trust.