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6 Biases That Affect How You Sell

Posted by Steve Fawthrop

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November 27, 2019

6 Biases That Affect How You Sell

In today’s market, two of the biggest differentiators for success in sales are based on sales coaching and sales innovation. The most successful salespeople are multi-talented, with their greatest differentiators being knowledge and professional development.

Proactive sales coaching is vital to sales teams because of a well-known principle in the field of psychology known as self-serving bias. Self-serving bias is defined as people’s tendency to attribute positive events to their own character but attribute negative events to external factors.

Salespeople with a self-serving bias will not ask for coaching, or don’t feel the need for further innovation because they don’t think anything is wrong. Additionally, there are six other biases stopping salespeople from closing sales.

Innovation Leads to an Opening Approach

Sales innovation is built on solid sales coaching. The key is having structure in the process and understanding of your sales goals so when unanticipated scenarios arise you are prepared to innovate a successful conclusion.

When focused on innovating around unknowns, sales reps and managers need to understand potential biases they bring into the process and know they must balance perspective to avoid narrow thinking.

For example, if pricing is an issue to close a deal the natural “narrowing” in the thought process leads to discounting. With the "opening" approach, the situation is examined for additional options to add value to the total package that provides client benefit and holds to the goals of the seller, such as:

  • Certain dollar volume
  • Profit margin
  • Financing terms
  • Length of contract
  • Other considerations

Teach, Tailor, and Take Control with The Challenger Sales Model

The Challenger Sale, a best-selling book based off one of the largest studies ever done in sales, addresses not only a better way to approach customers and the sales process, but also how organizations and managers can improve their coaching, sales training, and overall customer loyalty in the process.

The authors also highlight six different types of biases to keep in mind for self-examination when at this crossroad.

Keep in mind biases are not inherently bad. In a positive light, they’re filters to help process information and make decisions quicker. The point is to step back and see if the assumptive responses are best or potentially detrimental.

Six Biases Identified

1. Practicality Bias

Ideas that seem unrealistic should be discarded.

2. Confirmation Bias

Unexplained customer behaviors can be ignored.

3. Exportability Bias

If it didn't work here, it will not work anywhere.

4. Legacy Bias

The way we have always done it must be best.

5. First Conclusion Bias

The first explanation offered is usually the best or only choice.

6. Personal Bias

 If I wouldn't buy it, the customer won't either.

Ultimately, we don’t know which biases we have and how they’re affecting our behavior at any given moment. But we can learn to identify bias and adjust our behavior accordingly. Ask yourself: do you have regular, internal discussions as part of the sales process where you apply the bias questions or other methods to avoid blinders that you recognize may hold back sales success? Do you have sales enablement in order to have a more refined, consistent sales process? 

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Topics: personal development, coaching, sales enablement

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