The One Bad Habit Every Sales Rep Is Guilty Of

sales reps have happy ears

Happy Ears

I’ve had them, and most sales reps have had them at some point. Even the best sales reps I’ve worked with at some point have had them.

What are happy ears? This is the condition of being overly optimistic/excited about a deal that causes you to incorrectly forecast the timing, size or likelihood of it closing at all.

A trait that separates good salespeople from great salespeople is the ability to forecast well. Having happy ears can negatively impact your ability to accurately forecast.

3 Suggestions to Help Prevent Happy Ears

businesswoman with big ears

1. Overcome the “This one is different” syndrome. If you ever find yourself saying to your sales manager or peers, “This one is different” as the reason why a deal will close sooner or is going to spend more money than your typical customers do, you likely have your happy ears on. There are exceptions to every rule, but if you find yourself uttering those words when your boss asks why a prospect will buy in 2 weeks when your average sales cycle is 90 days, that should trigger you to go back and review why you believe this prospect is truly different.

2. Understand why they need to buy your product. If you don’t have a qualification process in place such as BANT (or Hubspot’s new version of this), put one in place and try very hard to stick to it. Even when a prospect fails your qualification process, see my first tip and don’t fall into that trap of thinking this time it’s different.

3. Are you truly dealing with the decision maker? I realize this is written about all the time, but I personally still make this mistake myself. It’s easy to want to believe your prospect when they tell you they can make the decision. I find one of the best ways to find out if they actually have the authority is to ask them about previous projects they have implemented that are similar to the dollar value of your product/service. Questions such as, “Do you often buy software for your department?” or “What was the last big project you led?” are still friendly but quickly expose whether or not they have the authority to buy.

How to you prevent happy ears syndrome hurting your sales forecasting? Let me know in the comments.

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Shaun Ricci

COO at Ideal
Shaun Ricci is a Canadian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Ideal. Shaun served as Co-Founder and COO of Field ID until it was acquired in December 2012. Shaun’s accomplishments include spots on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists as well as the 2012 Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Shaun is also an active writer, documenting his wins and losses while building his startup sales team.


  • Sydneyman

    As someone who has been selling in the real world for many years I don’t believe forecasting should be included at all in any list of positive sales attributes. At best it is a good guess, at worst it is dreaming. It is often something foisted on salespeople by unrealistic managers. Far better to focus on the sales process and activity and the results will find their own way.

    • Hi Sydneyman, thanks for commenting! I guess we can debate how effective it is, but I believe that having a pipeline number is important. When managing many prospects at once I personally like to have dollar figures and potential close dates to help me focus on opportunities that I thin are real.

    • Jack

      Hi Sydneyman

      as much as we may not like the to forecast it is critical to the overall business and a necessary for upper management to proactively manage the business. We can’t control when our customers can buy but a true professional knows what stage they are at and has a plan for closure knowing how a customer purchases (Approval process, PO cycle etc.). If a sales person has no idea about this then they either don’t know their customer or are not selling to a decision maker. I forecast every week, don’t like it but understand its value and impact on the company.