The Need for Strong Biases in Sales

When I wrote Eat Their Lunch, my editor recommended I remove the words “strong bias” from one chapter heading. In his view, the words were too charged for our hyper-political climate in the United States. I took his recommendation and instead used the word “opinion.” The word “opinion” is not the correct word for the idea I was trying to convey, which I why I originally chose the word “bias.”

The word “bias” indicates something more than an opinion, even a strong opinion. My editor’s challenge in my using the word “bias” was that the very definition includes the idea of “prejudice,” and it is the first word in the definition of “bias” in the New Oxford American dictionary that sits on my desk. Here we are using the word “bias” to mean “favoring one idea or solution over another.”

When you are sharing your ideas and insights, you need a bias, a point of view that suggests that “this” is better than “that.”

Your Views and Values

In the second chapter of Eat Their Lunch, I wrote on Capturing Mindshare or shaping the way your client views their business and their challenges and opportunities. Part of the framework included in that chapter consists of a section on your Views and Values, how you see things and what you believe to be good and right and true.

Salespeople and sales organizations struggle here, mostly because they prefer to talk about their company, their products, and the results they produce. However, when you live in the Red Ocean and are forced to compete where things are mostly equal, your biases (or your views and values) offer differentiation. They can also create a competitive advantage.

It’s important to have a strong bias about the implications of the trends and changes that are occurring in your dream client’s business and what they should do about them. There is a dichotomy of being impartial and open to looking at different choices and possessing a strong bias that one thing is more important than another, one option better than some other.

You Are Not Switzerland

You and your company have collected insights and ideas about what should be causing your clients to change, and because in many industries the systemic challenges are ubiquitous, so are many of the insights. The very nature of a systemic challenge makes it known and recognizable–even to some of your competitors.

If you want to capture mindshare, differentiate yourself, and create a preference, you cannot be neutral (or only biased in the belief that your solution is better than your competitor’s). Your views and values create a different level of conversation.

  • What is the most critical challenge your clients need to address? How should they address that challenge?
  • Why should they address this challenge before some other problem?
  • Why would they fund this solution instead of some other priority of the many competing priorities that all require their attention?

Biases and Opinions

My bias is that you need to create a greater level of value to be relevant in sales. There are others who possess a bias that success means being more transactional.

I am also biased in my belief that cold outreach is necessary for B2B sales. There are others who have a bias in shape contract to mine, believing that sales success now requires an inbound-only approach and that cold outreach should be gone forever.

If you want to be consultative, you form by acquiring business acumen, through your experiences serving your clients, through your research and studies, and your views and values. These biases are more than opinions, and they differentiate you from your competitors.

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