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Six Biases That May Undermine a Sale, from the Challenger Sale

In the book "The Challenger Sale" (Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson) the authors build the argument that the key success in developing the Challenger sales process is with the frontline sales manager.

When focused on innovating around the unknown (pages 159-169) they examine the need to help managers understand their biases (starts page 164) and the necessity to balance perspective to avoid "narrowing" thinking. Instead you should pursue "opening" thinking.

The authors highlight different types of biases to keep in mind as a way to examine yourself when at this crossroad. They acknowledge that the biases are not inherently "bad." They emphasize they are filters to help process information and make decisions quicker. The point is to step back and see if the assumptive responses are best or potentially detrimental.

Six biases are highlighted along with additional resource information if you want to learn more about the Challenger Sale concepts.

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Six Biases That May Undermine a Sale, from the Challenger Sale

  1. 1. Six Reasons You May Be Losing Sales By Steve Fawthrop Originally posted on LinkedIn 8/24/2014 In the book "The Challenger Sale" (by Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson) the authors build the argument that the key success in developing the Challenger sales process is with the frontline sales manager. While many elements go into developing the program--I will not try and capture the whole 200+ page book--let me touch on one area this is important in all sales regardless of the methodology.
  2. 2. Based on their research, the two biggest differentiators for success are based on: 1) Sales coaching. For the sake of brevity I will assume readers have an understanding and structural sense of coaching (see pages 140-158 in the book). 2) Sales innovation. This is in the latter part of the book as it all comes together and builds on sales coaching. The key is getting to the point of structure and understanding of your sales goals so when unanticipated scenarios come up in the sales process you are prepared to innovate to get to a successful conclusion. They cite the military idea that battle plans are necessary in war, but that in the heat of fighting frontline officers and troops need to innovate to more often achieve the overarching goal of senior commanders. When focused on innovating around the unknown (pages 159-169) they examine the need to help managers understand their biases (starts page 164) and the necessity to balance perspective to avoid "narrowing" thinking. Instead you should pursue "opening" thinking. As an example, they note if pricing is an issue to close a deal the natural "narrowing" in the thought process leads to discounting. With the "opening" approach the situation is examined to try and find additional options to add value to the total package that provides client benefit and hold to the goals of the seller (certain dollar volume, profit margin or other considerations). The authors highlight different types of biases to keep in mind as a way to examine yourself when at this crossroad. They acknowledge that the biases are not inherently "bad." They emphasize they are filters to help process information and make decisions quicker. The point is to step back and see if the assumptive responses are best or potentially detrimental.
  3. 3. The six biases are noted on page 165: Practicality bias: ideas that seem unrealistic should be discarded. Confirmation bias: Unexplainable customer behaviors can be ignored. Exportability bias: If it didn't work here, it will not work anywhere. Legacy bias: The way we have always done it must be best. First conclusion bias: The first explanation offered is usually the best or only choice. Personal bias: If I wouldn't buy it, the customer won't either. Considering the biases can be applied within or outside of the Challenger sales process, it raises a question for readers: If you are in sales (rep or manager) do you have a regular, internal discussion as part of the sales process where you apply the bias questions or other methods to avoid blinders that you recognize may hold back sales success? Food for thought as you work to close your next deal.
  4. 4. Additional Resources If you want to learn more about the Challenger sales process, linked is a short (10 page) Slideshare presentation from one of the authors: found here A blog post highlighting the basic approach of the Challenger sale: found here A little deeper review breaking down elements of the book in more detail: found here The book summarized with key citings in a ten minute reading overview: found here A contrarian view to The Challenger Sale from Linda Richardson, a well-known consultant in sales training: found here
  5. 5. About Me I have been in sales and sales management in advertising, marketing and media as a career. First in publishing, including with USA Today and American City Business Journals, the largest publisher of local business media in the country, then a shift into digital. My most recent work was with moment M, a mobile ad tech start up. I am also a community manager for Linked Seattle, one of the largest geographically focused groups on LinkedIn, with over 52,000 members. Social media: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevefawthrop www.google.com/+stevefawthrop Twitter: @Steve Fawthrop Other posts on LinkedIn: Steve Fawthrop author page “Trust and the Leadership Gap” “Six Buying Motives in a Purchase” “If Selling, Understand the Five Buying Decisions” “Am I the Last Sales Professional? I Don’t Think So” ## You can reach me at: stevefawthrop@outlook.com
  6. 6. About Me I have been in sales and sales management in advertising, marketing and media as a career. First in publishing, including with USA Today and American City Business Journals, the largest publisher of local business media in the country, then a shift into digital. My most recent work was with moment M, a mobile ad tech start up. I am also a community manager for Linked Seattle, one of the largest geographically focused groups on LinkedIn, with over 52,000 members. Social media: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevefawthrop www.google.com/+stevefawthrop Twitter: @Steve Fawthrop Other posts on LinkedIn: Steve Fawthrop author page “Trust and the Leadership Gap” “Six Buying Motives in a Purchase” “If Selling, Understand the Five Buying Decisions” “Am I the Last Sales Professional? I Don’t Think So” ## You can reach me at: stevefawthrop@outlook.com

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  • joymorai

    Sep. 10, 2018
  • KatarzynaRu

    Apr. 18, 2019

In the book "The Challenger Sale" (Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson) the authors build the argument that the key success in developing the Challenger sales process is with the frontline sales manager. When focused on innovating around the unknown (pages 159-169) they examine the need to help managers understand their biases (starts page 164) and the necessity to balance perspective to avoid "narrowing" thinking. Instead you should pursue "opening" thinking. The authors highlight different types of biases to keep in mind as a way to examine yourself when at this crossroad. They acknowledge that the biases are not inherently "bad." They emphasize they are filters to help process information and make decisions quicker. The point is to step back and see if the assumptive responses are best or potentially detrimental. Six biases are highlighted along with additional resource information if you want to learn more about the Challenger Sale concepts.

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