Happy Ears Kill Sales

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Is your sales team suffering from Happy Ears Syndrome?


Think back to your last debriefing session with your sales reps. Did the conversation start with “how did the meeting go”? (Quick Tip: Avoid asking this question. Instead, ask a simple question like “where are you in the process now or what happened in the end?” to avoid that long-winded story). After asking how it went, you probably got a response like “we had a really good conversation or they seemed really interested/excited!”


Uh oh.


Your sales reps may be suffering from happy ears syndrome. Happy ears is what happens when a sales rep only listens for the positives in their sales calls. And happy ears kill sales, period.

So let’s play a little game of what prospects say vs. what they really mean.


What they say: We think this might be a really good fit (enthusiasm in prospects voice). Follow up with me next week!


What they mean: There is a tiny chance we will actually buy from you Mr./Mrs. sales rep, but I don’t know how to politely tell you “no.” This way when you call, you will get my voicemail and you will waste a ton of time trying to track me down. 


Happy ears happen for various reasons. When pipelines are thin, when a large opportunity presents itself or when a sales rep is an optimistic person are all reasons that happy ears can occur.


As the leader of your people, do you notice happy ears occurring more often than not? What are you doing to neutralize them? Are you helping them be genuinely curious and skeptical in nature? Are you coaching them with the strategy and tactics to confirm prospect’s statement vs. just taking what they say at face value? A strong sales person will stay neutral and have their prospective customer convince them as to why things are the truth versus the sales rep doing the “convincing.”


Eliminate happy ears and watch sales increase. It will help everyone in the end. If you would like to begin to figure out why your people get caught with “happy ears” and how you can help your people start to reduce this, please contact me at to schedule a time for a phone call to discuss and pick my brain on this.


Shad Tidler works with Lushin and Associates. He provides sales and sales management coaching for business owners and their sales teams from manufacturing to service providers to nonprofits and more to help them grow and reach their next levels.

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