9 Bad Sales Habits (& How to Break Them In 2024), According to Sales Leaders

Download Now: Free Sales Plan Template
Jay Fuchs
Jay Fuchs


Welcome to “The Pipeline” — a weekly column from HubSpot, featuring actionable advice from real sales leaders. Want more content like this? Subscribe to our newsletter.

salespeople avoiding bad sales habits

Nobody's perfect. Some of us miss trash day and have our apartments smell like swamp water for the rest of the week. Some of us forget our anniversaries and have to scramble to CVS to pick up those mediocre chocolates in heart-shaped boxes the day after (that do exactly nothing to remedy the situation) … and some of us work in sales and fall back on bad habits that undermine our credibility with prospects and undercut our broader productivity.

Lack of perfection is a fact of life — but if you fall into the last bucket I mentioned, that “lack of perfection” can be particularly detrimental. Luckily, a lot of those bad sales habits are easy to identify and straightforward to address with the right guidance.

So to help you out, we reached out to real sales leaders for their takes on bad habits they consistently see sales professionals run into and how to right the course with those issues. Let's see what they had to say.

Free Download: Sales Plan Template

9 Bad Sales Habits (and How to Break Them)

1. Only Having One-Way Conversations

Baidhurya Mani, Founder of SellCoursesOnline, says, “Bad salespeople only have one-way conversations. They often get so carried away talking too much that they monopolize the conversation and forget to listen to their customers. While it's important to articulate an excellent sales pitch, don't forget that sales is a two-way conversation first and foremost.”

“Veteran salespeople know to let the client do most of the talking. Your job as a salesperson is to listen actively and empathize with them, all while processing and analyzing the information you're drawing out from them. This is how you can get to know your customer and their pain points better, so you can position your pitch appropriately.”

2. Not Embracing Rejection as a Learning Opportunity

Joanne Demeireles, CXO of Oula Health, says, "Fearing rejection in a sales position is just setting yourself up for failure. Any sales job is over 90% rejection, no matter how good you really are at it. Rejection is inevitable, and the frame of mind you use to view that rejection is key to perseverance and success.

"Successful salespeople understand that it's simply a part of the process. Those who let the fear of rejection dictate their actions may avoid making cold calls, approaching potential clients, or asking for the sale, hindering their success.

“Overcoming this fear requires resilience, confidence, a positive mindset, and positive reinforcement. Salespeople must embrace rejection as a learning opportunity rather than a personal failure, making them better equipped as professionals to persevere, learn from setbacks, and ultimately achieve greater success in their sales careers.”

3. Not Maintaining a Conversational Tempo on Sales Calls

Justin Abrams, Founder and CEO of Aryo Consulting Group, says, "When I started my business, I had zero sales skills or success. My first sales calls were brutal! The biggest habit I needed to improve upon was my conversation and tempo.

“I approached these calls like a job interview, listing my resume and stammering through why I was qualified. Instead, remain relaxed and try to get the client to speak 80% of the time. Even if you want to close the client, appearing nonchalant adds an air of exclusivity. Trust me, you will see a vastly increased close rate.”

4. Being Too Attached to One Sale

Kalin Kassabov, Founder and CEO of ProTexting, says, "One trait that can limit the success of a salesperson is being too attached to making a particular sale. As you gain confidence, you understand that the best strategy is to focus your attention on prospects who are the best match for your product or service.

“If you are desperate to make every sale, you can fall into the habit of trying to be all things to all people. In the long run, this will make it harder to reach your best prospects. Instead, make your goal to identify people or organizations that you can help the most.”

5. Failing to Ask Meaningful Questions

Amy Tribe, Director at OGLF (Our Good Living Formula), "One thing that can hold back salespeople who aren‘t doing well is their failure to ask meaningful questions. How can you effectively address your clients’ needs if you‘re unaware of what they are? The more questions you ask, the more trustworthy you become as a salesperson because you’ll be in a better position to collaborate on solutions that benefit both parties.

"In my experience, around 70% of purchases are motivated by the client‘s need to solve a specific issue, so it’s crucial to know precisely what they are seeking. Asking thorough, detailed questions can help you gather more information to achieve this. It‘s also beneficial to have some questions prepared in advance to ensure you’ve covered everything.

“Keep your questions straightforward, follow a sensible sequence, avoid questions that result in simple 'yes' or 'no' answers, and don't hesitate to ask for more details or clarification when needed. Additionally, you should avoid jumping into sales pitches too early; these questions are intended to establish trust with the client, and pushing for a hard sell too soon can harm that trust.”

6. Relying Too Much on Scripts

Lilia Tovbin, Founder and CEO of BigMailer.io, says, "Over-reliance on scripts is a detrimental habit that can impede salespeople‘s success. Sales isn’t merely a transactional exchange but a personal connection between the salesperson and the client. Relying excessively on scripted pitches diminishes the authenticity and genuine connection that is vital in sales interactions.

“When salespeople stick rigidly to scripts, they risk sounding robotic and insincere, which can alienate potential clients. Moreover, scripted conversations lack flexibility and adaptability, making it difficult to address each client's unique needs.”

7. Being Too Slow to Respond to Leads

Balázs Keszthelyi, Founder and CEO of TechnoLynx, "The reluctance to immediately pick up the phone when a lead comes through another channel is a costly habit that prevents salespeople from closing more deals. When a salesperson calls within the first five minutes after a prospect has made an initial contact, they are far more likely to convert that prospect into a qualified lead.

"Not capitalizing on this ‘golden window’ of opportunity puts salespeople at a serious disadvantage, since it is those who get in first that are better positioned to shape the conversation and close the deal. Speedy response times also allow salespeople to build greater rapport and connect with prospects at the ideal time — when they are likely available to talk and already trying to find a solution to their problem.

“Rather than holding back for fear of seeming desperate, salespeople should strike while the iron is hot. Calling a prospect as soon as the lead comes through is the best way to build trust, make the most of lead inquiries, and drive conversions.”

8. Prioritizing Pitches Over Questions

Sai Blackbyrn, CEO of Coach Foundation, says, "In my 25 years of experience training and coaching sales teams, I've seen that one of the most common bad habits that holds salespeople back is failing to ask enough questions.

"Many sales reps are so eager to launch into their pitch that they don‘t take the time to truly understand the prospect’s needs or challenges. This ends up leading to misaligned solutions or wasted time talking about things the client doesn't care about. The most successful salespeople are consultative — they use questioning skills to diagnose before prescribing.

“Asking thoughtful questions shows the prospect that you care about solving their issues versus just making a sale. It builds trust and rapport. Simply put, if you don't understand what the client truly needs, you can't be as effective at tailoring your solution and convincing them it's right for them. Make asking questions a priority in every sales conversation, and you'll see your success and productivity skyrocket.”

9. Not Adapting to Modern Outreach Methods

Josh Ladick, President of GSA Focus, says, "I've learned that generic pitches and cold calling are becoming increasingly ineffective. In the realm of government contracting, where specificity and trust are paramount, these methods fall short.

“Emphasizing personalized approaches and leveraging digital platforms for outreach have proven far more effective. A key takeaway from our journey has been the importance of adapting to the evolving landscape, focusing on building meaningful connections rather than relying on volume-based tactics.”

Identifying and working through your bad habits is pretty mission-critical to your career development in virtually every field — and sales is definitely no exception. But if you remain self-aware, willing to learn, and ready to adapt, you'll set yourself up to soldier through rough patches and ultimately become a much more thoughtful, effective sales professional.

sales plan

Topics: Sales Strategy

Related Articles


Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan.


    Powerful and easy-to-use sales software that drives productivity, enables customer connection, and supports growing sales orgs