Wendy “Won’t Sell” and the Confirmation Bias
In this series of five posts, we’ll explore the manifestations of cognitive dissonance and how I feel it has resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy: a vast disparity between what we think sales people do, and what they really do to be successful.
Meet Wendy Won’t-Sell, she doesn’t consider herself a salesperson, she’s is too much of a professional. She works as a financial consultant and is well respected by her peers as someone who can absorb a mountain of detail like a sponge.
Say hello to Wendy
When preparing for a sales appointment with a prospective client, Wendy will spend the entire morning making sure every detail is in place. She can’t relax until she can answer every question, no matter how unlikely to be asked.
She can be quite anxious before these appointments, so she brings nearly everything she can carry to meetings – just in case she needs it. Strangely, she rarely does, but she brings it anyway to every single meeting.
“I need to have everything at hand to be comfortable,” she says “It’s just the way I am. Besides, you can never be too prepared!”
Wendy has so much detail to share in an hour that she often feels compelled to start things off with the most complex issue. She tends to be oblivious to the client’s fidgeting, as she’s often too busy searching for supporting documents, or looking at her own powerpoint slides to make much eye contact.
So wrapped up in her presentation, she fails to ask questions that might reveal that the prospect is already sold, and simple wants to move forward with a contract that suits them.
Finally, the prospect interrupts: “Did you bring an agreement for me to sign?”
This is a great surprise to Wendy. She wonders how, without all the information she was about to share, the client made a decision. But instead of asking, she (incorrectly) credits the success to her breadth and depth of knowledge and painstaking attention to detail.
Unlike Hailey Hard-Sell and Nadia No-Sell, Wendy Won’t-Sell is doing her best, but doesn’t sell very well for other reasons. While Hailey puts her needs well above the prospect’s, Wendy – like Nadia – is putting the needs of the prospect well above her own.
Wendy Won’t-Sell has good intentions, but really doesn’t want to be mistaken for Hailey Hard-Sell. Again, it’s the cognitive dissonance that gets in her way. Further, she lets her confirmation bias around the concept of “salespeople” to cloud her judgement.
Unlike Nadia No-Sell, however, Wendy is ready and willing to learn how to sell better, and responds well to training because of that attitude.
Next, we’ll discuss what Hailey, Nadia, and Wendy can do to improve their relationships with customers and prospects.