Tag Archives: professional selling skills

Sales Pros Beware: Confirmation Bias Might Be Costing You…

confirmationbias2In a recent newsletter, Conway Management Company shared insightful information about a thing called confirmation bias, which is the tendency to pursue and embrace information that matches our existing beliefs.

Consider that we tend to seek out and enjoy people who write or say exactly what we think, and that we tend to gravitate toward these sources not for information but for confirmation. In other words, we all have a tendency (ourselves as well as our customers!) to “hear what we want to hear.”

The trouble with confirmation bias begins when it gets in the way of seeking out facts. Because we are more likely to seek evidence that the things we believe to be true are, in fact, correct, we may move forward in our sales effort too soon. Doing so usually results in a premature presentation, as explained in our previous post.

If instead we can develop the habit of seeking contrary information — primarily through diligent trial closing — it will enable us to more comprehensively uncover customers’ needs, goals and  priorities, as well as potential objections, and to then present a more compelling value proposition.

Three Steps to More Successful Business Development

BusinessDevelopmentPlanBusiness development is a process, and like any business process it can be continually improved.

Three key steps for enhancing your business development effort include:

  1. Develop a proactive plan that is results-driven – too many plans are based upon “when we have time…”
  2. Identify key activities – based upon your marketplace, a strategic combination of action steps such as networking, social media, meetings, email campaings, etc. that will enable you to achieve your results goals
  3. Annualize your plan – this will enable you to evaluate feasibility as well as to allocate time and resources to your effort

See related video…

Is There a “Secret Weapon” for Generating New Business?

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, sales professionals were asked about their “secret weapon” for successfully generating and bringing in new business.

There were a number of interesting responses, including:

“Shutting up and letting prospects talk.”

“The truth is there is no weapon, secret or other. Successful salespeople know that it is simply about building and maintaining honest, strong business relationships. They continue to provide products tailored to match a solution and not simply a price.”

“A basic understanding of what they [customers…] need and the ability to supply it. Sales is not brain surgery just have a great grasp on what you are offering, the ability to listen and the desire to succeed.”

“Focus and activity management. Given the question. Its cause and effect. What do most sales people neglect? #1 Account management; #2 Follow-up with prospects; #3 Initiating new quality discussions with new prospects.  In 17 years of training 15,000+ sales people its overwhelmingly #3″

The lost art of a personalized approach, such as hand written notes. Maya Angelou said, ‘People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, But people will never forget how you made them feel.'”

“My secret weapon is to make sure you research the customer and listen to the customer so you can understand their pain points and then offer them a solution or a way to improve their business.”

“Asking for the order.”

Sales Malpractice

Defined as “…prescribing medicine or medical treatment without sufficient knowledge of the patient’s condition,” malpractice is an odious word.

Similarly speaking, the sin of “sales malpractice” is committed countless times each day, often with devastating consequences. Business relationships are compromised, orders are lost, time is wasted and needs are left unfulfilled because of sales malpractice.


Sales malpractice happens when sales people fail to properly assess or recognize customer needs, interests and priorities. The transgression tends to be committed unintentionally, as well-intentioned sellers plod on with ineffective pitches, one-sided sales spiels and misdirected presentations, offering solutions that don’t quite fit.


Fortunately, the malady is easily avoided!


Creating and then diligently executing a customer needs assessment (CNA) plan is the answer. And, to avoid any misconceptions, the CNA must be conducted early in the selling process, and must be regularly confirmed during more lengthy selling cycles.


In addition, an effective CNA must go well beyond asking customers what they think they need!


Successful needs-assessment involves learning about what each customer is trying to accomplish; it requires thoughtful questions, focused listening, a situational analysis and confirmation of the facts.


In today’s consultative selling model, all customer needs must be assessed and confirmed before any solutions are offered; no presentation can be made, no advice given, no proposal written, no quote submitted until all factors have been carefully considered.


Only then can a solution be offered in good conscience.