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Don’t Surrender to Your Confirmation Bias. With George Brontén [Episode 594]

George Brontén, CEO of Membrain, joins me for the second time on this episode.


  • George says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is to stand out and differentiate themselves. They need to understand their buyers and their product’s selling point and communicate it quickly to their buyers.
  • George recently wrote about confirmation bias in sales, which led to this visit to Accelerate! Confirmation bias is selecting data to reinforce our existing beliefs, even when contradictory data is present. This is a human behavior.
  • We have a bias that we are not biased. We need to acknowledge that we have biases that impact how we communicate with and receive information from others. It is also important to understand others’ values or biases.
  • Andy cites the book Blind Spot, and Project Implicit’s online Implicit Association Test, that reveals biases. We all have biases. Our biases impact our communications with others. Listen to the words people use to detect biases.
  • Don’t take what the customer says at face value. There is a motivation behind it that a sales rep needs to know. The conversation becomes more productive if you ask probing questions.
  • We need to ask what new information means and if it challenges what we or the customer believe. System One thinking is easy. Perceptions are sticky. It’s hard to change them.
  • Sales reps need to help customers activate their System Two thinking. Messaging must be simple, or the customer will simplify them with their own assumptions.
  • Humans are not motivated by logic. We make decisions from our emotions, linked to our values and beliefs, and then justify those decisions with rationalization.
  • Andy suggests asking customers questions about their business they should know the answers to but don’t. Challenging is not to be argumentative but to awaken in the mind of the buyer a risk of missing something.
  • Sales reps have a confirmation bias that if the first calls with a prospect go well, the prospect is on the way to a sale even with subsequent contradictory evidence. They may skip discovery steps or miss influencers.
  • Sales reps tend to have ‘happy ears.’ This bias can be overcome by strict adherence to process. Don’t forget anything important. Make sure the prospect meets exit criteria for each stage of the pipeline. Look at details.
  • A thorough pipeline review can dispel confirmation bias. Managers also have biases. All reps need pipeline reviews and leads should be distributed to reps appropriately.