6 Things First-Year Sales Reps Get Horribly Wrong

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Mike Renahan
Mike Renahan




My first month of work at HubSpot was unforgettable. Working alongside and learning from marketing’s best of the best had me bursting with excitement and adrenaline, but it also rattled my nerves.

My goal to hit the ground running full speed didn’t go as planned. I was a rookie trying to match the work of veterans and found myself making simple mistakes when my focus should have been on learning.

In sales this exact scenario plays out all the time: A rookie is so determined to make a name for himself that he makes avoidable mistakes and falls into bad habits.

Did you or someone you know just start their first sales job? If so, you might want to check out the following list. Below are six things first-year sales reps often get wrong.

1) They rely on cold, high-volume outreach.

Using cold, high-volume outreach can set a rookie sales rep back because it doesn’t allow them the opportunity to build rapport with buyers before connecting with them. When a rookie rep reaches out to hundreds of prospects, they run the risk of turning the majority off because buyers aren’t familiar with their name and haven’t demonstrated any interest in what they’re selling.

Instead, rookies should dedicate themselves to building a bond with potential prospects prior to reaching out. The first step can be engaging with prospects on social media or commenting on a blog post a buyer has written. That way, the rep can become familiar to the prospect before the first email.

2) They let quality prospects fall through the cracks.

Losing track of quality prospects is a trap rookie reps are susceptible to because they might not be accustomed to using a complex CRM or another lead tracking system. New reps often forget to input data, resulting in lost prospects and opportunities.

In this situation, the right CRM is essential. Reps who don’t have to worry about inputting lead data and who automatically receive reminders about when to follow up with prospects are in a position to be successful -- look for a CRM that offers these features.

3) They use the same pitch for everyone.

It's easy for a newbie to use a sales script as a crutch. But trotting out the same tired pitch regardless of the circumstance can turn buyers away because each prospect has a unique pain point that requires a unique solution. By keeping the pitch the same, reps are unable to showcase the specific benefits the product presents to a prospect.

Rookie reps should instead devote time to researching each prospect, engaging with them online, learning about their business, and putting together a tailored message based on the information they’ve learned. Following these steps allows the rookie to present the product to the prospect in the best possible light.

4) They qualify prospects too quickly.

Reps who breeze through qualification don’t provide themselves enough time to dive deep into a prospect’s situation and determine whether or not they are the right fit. New reps often make this mistake in an effort to fill their pipelines in a flash.

Reps should instead commit to discovering as much as they can about a prospect prior to qualifying them, and asking them careful questions on the discovery call. By executing thorough research, reps avoid churn down the road.

5) They use high-pressure tactics.

Relying on high-pressure tactics can lead to trouble for rookies because every buyer moves at their own pace. Sometimes new reps' enthusiasm for their new role translates into pushing prospects to close ASAP.

But practicing high-pressure tactics often scares buyers away. Rookie reps should learn to educate and guide each buyer instead of trying to persuade them to buy now. When a rep is there to educate instead of force, they can build trust and credibility with the prospect, which results in a better relationship.

6) They abandon the prospect once they’re a customer.

You’ve spent so much time developing a relationship with the prospect before they buy. Why would you throw that away once they become a customer?

Forgetting about the buyer once they’re a customer is a pitfall reps should be wary of because they might lose the relationship they’ve developed with that customer. And this can lead to a lack of valuable referrals and renewals. New reps who are eager to get their first deals under their belt are particularly susceptible to this mistake.

According to Dale Carnegie, 90% of customers are comfortable giving referrals. The first step to earning a referral, however, is to maintain a great relationship with the customer. Forging a lasting relationship starts with following up regularly and soliciting feedback.

Rookie reps can get caught up trying to do too much and fall prey to dangerous mistakes -- even though they have the best of intentions. First-year reps are eager and willing to learn, but it’s critical to recognize the difference between effective and ineffective tactics.

I still find myself making mistakes but this rookie is on his way to becoming a veteran. How about you?

HubSpot CRM

Topics: Sales Coaching

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