Are You For Me or Against Me? A Trust-Based Approach to Sales

Think back to high school.

Were you a “Chief,” a “Bear,” a “Pirate”?

At my own dear school, we were called the “Will Rogers Ropers.”

Do you still recall the chants and songs  you would do at your games?

I do.

Who were your ‘arch rivals’?

Chances are good that would be the nearest school with teams in the same division – you ‘hated’ them and they ‘hated’ you.

As a ‘Roper,’only a traitor would actually make friends with one of those Memorial Chargers [ :-))

From the playground, to high school,to college and beyond – we are biased

We’ve been studying ‘cognitive bias’ as it relates to the sales process and those responsible for sales, and we’ve discovered that cognitive biases are default responses that can help make (or break) sales.

Cognitive biases are thinking errors that occur when we allow our minds to process information without challenge. They are shortcuts the brain takes in order to efficiently deal with the zillion bits of information confronting it moment by moment.

The tendency to build alliances with those who belong to ‘our group’ and to alienate ourselves from those who are not in ‘our group’ –  that curious phenomenon is known to psychology as Ingroup Bias (aka “favoritism”).

Ingroup bias says, “WE are right and YOU are wrong.”

Ingroup bias in sales – Getting from “Them” to “Us”

I’ve earlier pointed out that neuromarketing is a graduate-level class, but anyone in sales (at any level) can gain from a rudimentary discussion of its principles.

Moreover, I’m encouraging you to adhere to the philosophy of Trust-based Selling and use the leverage gained here to help serve your customers or clients even better — not to make you a better manipulator.

An acknowledgement of Ingroup Bias helps explain why the salesperson’s first goal is to discover the TRUTH of the prospect’s situation — NOT to ‘make a sale’. That sounds counter-intuitive, perhaps, but it is not.

You see, the salesperson is often conditioned (through traditional sales training) to “MAKE THE SALE,” but your prospective client is conditioned to NOT TRUST YOU, NOT TRUST YOUR AGENDA, and NOT TRUST YOUR INTENTIONS …  in other words, you and the prospect are on opposing teams – and that means there is a ready made (Ingroup bias-based) CONFLICT.

When you are a part of “Them” to your prospect, he or she will keep you at arm’s length and will instinctively distrust you. That is why it is imperative to break through bias and create trust.

How can you move over to the prospect’s side of the table?

Traditional approaches to selling rarely address this conflict inherent in the ‘buyer-seller’ situation. When you fail to address Ingroup bias, the sales process becomes artificial and inauthentic. Potential clients sense that they’re being drawn into a process designed to GET THEM TO BUY (i.e. ‘our agenda’ versus ‘their agenda’).

The solution is to set aside your own bulldog determination to sell, stop being “Them,” and seek first to understand the other’s point of view. From there, both you and the prospect can stop looking at the conversation as ‘you against me” and saying “us.”

That is a golden moment.

In my experience, until someone genuinely feels we have their best interests in mind, they will rarely warm up to us, our product, or our service. That’s true whether that initial trust in the relationship occurs during the course of a year’s regular contacts or within the first few minutes of your introduction.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you fail to address Ingroup bias, the #sales process becomes artificial and inauthentic. ” quote=”When you fail to address Ingroup bias, the sales process becomes artificial and inauthentic.”]

Remember, if our agenda of ‘making the sale’ is set aside we can genuinely look for ways to step alongside the other person – to get on his or her side and fight together against the opposing forces.

NOW this is where traditional sales training has advised us well. This process can be smoother and quicker when you have done your homework before the meeting. Do you know where SHE went to school? What are her biggest concerns? Where does she currently get the kinds of products or services you offer?

The more you know your audience, the easier it will be to build rapport (as most sales training suggests) and to take it beyond rapport to trust.

Pay attention to the photos on her desk, the plaques on her wall, and the books she has on her desk. Your initial job is to show her that YOU are similar to her, that YOU are in ‘her group.’

Listen: People may respond to marketing copy, sales pricing, and sometimes even to a compelling presentation of features and benefits. The bottom line, though, is that people buy from people.

You must first of all learn how to be human, then to become a friend, before you can go on to enjoy the accolades of a top-performing salesperson or enjoy the rewards in your business by elevating sales.

Ingroup bias can work for you or against you.

By realizing cognitive biases exist, you have taken the first step in adding the Ingroup bias antidote to The Inevitable Sale tool bag!


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