Are Your Salespeople Biased?

Of course they are!  They're human.  All humans are biased to think and act in certain ways.  We offer biased opinions.  Our reactions are biased, to a degree, upon our experiences and environment.  However, if you are a salesperson – or you employ salespeople – your bias is costing you money and profit!

How?  And how do I correct this?

OK – before you get concerned – I am not talking about discrimination or other odious practices.  I want to draw your attention, in particular, to how your salespeople behave when they are not on the floor selling.  Or when they are not out in the field selling.  Why?

Because they way that they behave when they themselves are shopping or making decisions has a direct connection to the way that they sell  and the manner in which they relate to customers.  For example:

1) What kind of shopper are they?  Where do they shop for personal items?  Do they brag about the great deal that they got on XYZ?  Do they only shop at “huge discount stores?”  Do they dress and look like they just came from the bargain basement?

2) How about the ability to make decisions?  Do they say, “I'll have to think about this some more before I can make a decision?”  Do they give this response more times than not?  Many more times?

Well then, there is a high probability that they will respond in a similar manner during a sales call.  They will show their bias.  They will project their own preferences onto the customer.  How?

“Serial Bargain Buyers” place a high value on a low price sticker.  For many, this is the only thing that they value – the lowest price possible.  Do you employ any “serial bargain buyers?”  If so, do they project their bias onto your customers?  Just because they shop for bargains, they may presume that everyone shops for bargains – i.e. they are biased to believe that everyone wants the lowest possible price – all the time – or else they will not buy.

Does this happen in your store or place of business?  Do you have some salespeople who constantly complain about losing sales to the competitor down the block who has a lower price?  If so … I would start to do a background check – on their attitudes and shopping habits.  If you find that they are a “serial bargain buyer,” I would suggest that you encourage them to seek employment at another business that offers lower prices than you do.  They are beyond redemption.  You can not train them to change their attitude.

This is an extreme example made to illustrate a point.  It is natural that each of us tend to think that people that we meet or work with share the same outlook on the world that we do.  When you do your training – and I sincerely hope that you do train your staff – try to spot these natural tendencies towards bias.  Sometimes just pointing the reaction out – making them aware of their words, actions and non-verbal responses will be sufficient.

Last year, I made a few presentations to musical instrument dealers on “How To Compete with Internet Pricing:  Lose the Sale?  Or Lose the Profit?”  I have attached a sample page from that presentation as a file for you to access or download.  You can get the entire slide show on my website –

I asked the retailers to visualize their staff.  How many of their salespeople were “gigging” musicians?”  How many of these salespeople / “giggers” had any money?  How many of them actually knew anybody who had money?  How many of them – really – thought thought that your store's prices were too high?  How many of these salespeople / “giggers” actually purchased any equipment from your store – or did they go to the Internet or a competitor to get a lower price for themselves?

Unfortunately, many of the retailers in my audience nodded in agreement – I had just painted a picture of their sales staff.  And … they had a sales staff that was biased!  And they projected that bias onto their customers.

That is the real key – projecting your bias onto the customer.  Frankly, I don't care how you shop for yourself and your family – that is your decision.  Nor do I care how you make decisions at home.  As long as … you do not bring your bias to work.  Do not assume that everyone is your identical twin.

Successful salespeople ask question and listen to the answers their customers give to determine the best product or service for each individual customer.  Successful supervisors make a real effort to discover the factors that motivate each employee.  And they coach and communicate with the employee accordingly.  They do not show their bias. 

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