Hailey ‘Hard-Sell’ and the Confirmation Bias

The first instalment of our five-part series provided a definition and overview of cognitive dissonance and a discussion about the vast disparity between what we believe salespeople do, and what they do to be successful.

In this, the second instalment of our series, we introduce you to Hailey ‘Hard-Sell’, the first of three personas we will meet on our exploration of the manifestations of cognitive dissonance in a sales scenario.

Say hello to Hailey

Hailey ‘Hard-Sell’s’ sales mantra is: “If I have it, you’ll buy it.” Hailey makes a charming first impression and will go out of her way to flatter and show a deep interest in everything you say. However, as the sales discussion progresses, this veneer is soon chipped away to reveal Hailey’s real motivation: your wallet.

Once the façade has worn away, Hailey will ask a few questions, have little time for your concerns and converse like she’s reading from a script. Rather than listening to your requirements, she will soothe you with stories while pushing you towards a decision. Although Hailey will claim that her first offer is genuinely the best, she will miraculously pull many better offers out of the hat when you are reluctant to accept. Hailey will happily use a ruthless combination of guilt, deals and boundless energy in her determination to separate you from your money.

Anyone who works in a sales role or has regular contact with sales professionals will recognise Hailey ‘Hard-Sell’ as the stereotypical disingenuous salesperson. But from where does Hailey come? What makes her this way? Is she just a false stereotype, or are there thousands of Hailey ‘Hard-Sells’ in operation right now?

The confirmation bias

The confirmation bias is the tendency of people to favour information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively or when they interpret it in a biased way.

As an example of the confirmation bias at play, if we believe that blondes are unintelligent, then we’ll tend to attribute any mistakes they might make to a deficiency in their intelligence. On the other hand, if a brunette were to make the same mistake, we may attribute the cause to a lack of training, improper instruction or just plain bad luck. The point is that in general, we tend to seek evidence that confirms the existing biases we hold. I think this might also go some way to explaining the way we view salespeople too.

Our bias at play

Many of us have a bias that salespeople are disingenuous, self-serving, and, if given a chance, wouldn’t think twice about hoodwinking us into a purchase. So, when we encounter behaviour in salespeople that we can construe this way, it only serves to confirm what we already believe to be true.

However, the vast majority of sales professionals are uncomfortable with this style of selling and are resistant to learning about such techniques. After all, who wants to be a Hailey ‘Hard-Sell’?

As with most biases, believing that almost all salespeople are pushy and disingenuous is not only erroneous, it’s also unfair. It’s counterintuitive to find one has to be pushy and dishonest to become a successful salesperson. Do you have to exhibit a lack of intelligence to be a convincing blond? Of course not. And the same is true for salespeople.

In the next two parts of our cognitive dissonance series, we’ll introduce you to Nadia ‘No-Sell’ and Wendy ‘Won’t-Sell’, and look more closely at the truths behind these modern sales stereotypes.

Drop us a line!

If you have any experiences or insight you’d like to share, then we’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you work with or know a genuine Hailey ‘Hard-Sell’? Do you agree that this is a misinformed stereotype? Or is there more to it than simple confirmation bias? Please let us know your thoughts by writing your comments below.

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