We all have leadership expectations to meet, goals to reach, and milestones to achieve. Think you or your buyers and customers are not biased? Think again. It's baked into us from a young age—check out this post from HubSpot on 26 forms of bias.
Bias is tough to escape in the world of sales
Access to information has never been more available, tailored for specific circumstances, and free.
The people, products, or circumstances we represent can easily bias the way we serve. To be customer centric, we must find balance in fostering empathy, reason, and business acumen to guide how we help. We must embrace free thinking.
Free thinking: A person who forms opinions on the basis of reason, independent of authority or tradition.
Enabling free thinking with sales and marketing
A few years ago, I was sitting with the marketing leadership team at the company I worked for and we were debating how to be customer centric. There was a divide in the team's thinking on how content can educate the market, regardless of being internally created or sourced from a third party.
There was a specific example referenced, where I was nurturing a business opportunity with digital content - mostly third party and in some cases from a competitor. Our marketing team noticed and was not impressed.
The meeting went from a healthy debate to questioning my loyalty to the solution, to my colleagues, to the company I was representing. This was silly.
I was putting myself in the customer's shoes and acting based on reason, independent of authority or tradition - which is status quo in the context of business. This was free thinking.
I believe that if value was being created from the customer's point of view, then that's what really mattered.
This was validated when the customer shared how they brought a piece of content into a board meeting and discussed the ideas with their team. I had not asked for this to happen - value was perceived and acted on. Insight was delivered and in sales, isn't that what we should be doing our best to deliver?
What can we bring to the table that can't be found on Google or your website in 30 seconds? How can we demonstrate our ability to be a trusted advisor?
Free thinking isn't easy
To this day, I battle with the pull of leadership expectations, goals to meet, alongside customer demands.
With digital disruption accelerating and the challenges with information overload, our ability to create insight is dependent on how we empathize, filter the noise, and be genuine in building relationships.
Digital channels are incredible to research, communicate, and collaborate, but people can tell when it's self-serving and not intended to really help. The clear majority of messages I receive are just that - self-serving and lacking any real insight.
Here are 3 ideas to help you think more freely when it comes to how you serve your buyers and customers:
1. Identify how you're feeling before you act. If you are having a tough day, moment, don't make your most important call. Go for a walk and refresh your mind, approach the situation positively.
2. Empathize with how your own behavior would be perceived by the customer. Would you appreciate the approach, piece of content, your ask?
3. Collaborate with your leader and/or colleagues on the situation and take a step back to think objectively - with reason, with free thinking.
What do you think? How do we break free from bias and better support the buyer journey and customer experience?