Are You Losing Sales Due to Your Biases (and Too Much Empathy)?

  • Sales Xceleration Team
Reading Time: 3 minutes

We all have opinions and preferences. Our own likes and dislikes. These inclinations – biases, really – help define who we are and with whom we feel most comfortable. While some biases can be healthy and constructive and help us establish empathy, others can be hurtful and destructive. As sales professionals, our attitudes, preferences and biases can certainly impact sales success. In fact, even being empathetic – normally seen as a positive bias – can result in lost sales. It’s surprising but true. Here’s what I mean:

I Object, You Object, We Object

Biases often present themselves as objections. “I think the price is too high,” or “I think this solution will be hard to implement,” or “I don’t  think the client wants to move forward.” Unfortunately, not all objections are stated; many (perhaps most) objections are unspoken but deeply felt. Complicating the salesperson’s task of overcoming objections is that we tend to believe that others think as we do. That others share our beliefs, our value systems, our personal biases – and yes, our objections. This, then, becomes a huge obstacle to making a sale:

The objection you will have the most difficulty overcoming is the objection that is most consistent with your own value system.

Think about it: if you are a price-conscious buyer and your prospect objects to the cost of your solution, you will tend to accept their objection. If you are a “think-this-over” type of buyer, you will empathize with your prospect when he or she says, “We need to think this over before we make a decision to purchase.” Seeing objections like these as perfectly rational based on your own values could lead you to miss the chance to overcome these objections and close the deal. Too much empathy – yes, too much empathy – could undermine the deal.

It gets worse. You could unwittingly insert your personal objections into the sales dynamic. Here’s how:

  • You develop a deep-seated opinion.
  • That opinion colors your behavior and becomes rooted as an attitude (a behavior formed from thoughts).
  • That attitude affects your actions in all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
  • These actions provoke reactions from prospects and customers.

Opinions create attitudes which lead to actions which cause reactions.

In other words, you could become your own nemesis in making the sale. (Remember the line from the Pogo comic strip: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”) For example, if you, as the salesperson, believe that your solution is too costly, you might mention – without being prompted – that price alternatives can be discussed. Such a misstep happens because of our innate belief that others buy for the same reasons we buy (or choose not to buy for the same reasons we choose not to buy.)

So, when you project your biases into the sales process, rather than truly listening and responding to the prospect, you not only miss your chance to overcome the real objections, you risk sabotaging your chances for success.

A Better Way

To avoid this projection-of-objections scenario:

  • Become aware of your biases. Ask yourself how you make your own buying decisions, and try to understand how this could affect your selling narratives.
  • Recognize that not everyone buys like you or sees the same issues as having the same importance.
  • Let the customer tell you the problem. Remember that your biases and objections are not necessarily the ones to be dealt with.
  • If you sense an unstated objection, don’t assume that it is the one you would have if you were the prospect. Instead, dig deeper to determine the true objection(s). In other words, just ask!

Bottom Line:

Selling is tough. Prospects and customers come to the table with many issues and problems and objections. These are uniquely theirs. Don’t make the mistake of projecting your biases onto your prospects. Also, don’t be so empathetic with an objection that you merely accept the objection rather than working through it to find a better solution.

Reach out to one of our Advisors today.  We are here to help.