Let me start with a technical definition (from sciencedaily.com). Anchoring Bias – the common human tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.
I would rephrase it this way: stop listening for just the facts; get to the motivation and not just the specifications.
The anchoring bias causes us to over-rely on specific pieces of information. While the bias makes it easier for us to process what we are hearing, it will often lead us to faulty assumptions in the sales process. This is one of the reasons I consistently tell salespeople to stay away from detail conversations in the early part of the sales presentation. Let me offer a scenario to show how damaging this can be.
Salesperson: “How much did you want to spend”?
Customer: “We’d like to stay under four-hundred.”
Salesperson: “So noted.”
This is a salesperson’s mental dialogue 30 minutes later. “Oh, man – I really want to show them this other model, but they said they could only go up to four-hundred.”
Whoa – pump the brakes. Did the customer say they could only go to four-hundred? Nope; they said they would like to stay under four-hundred. And why did they say that? Because the salesperson nailed them down (and did so too early in the process).
The problem with the anchoring bias is that it locks key information into our mind, and we will tend to rely too heavily on those specific data points. Be careful of that early information you pick up in your sales conversation. It represents just one piece of a very large puzzle. Instead, structure your questions to get the customer talking broadly at first. This will allow you to truly understand the entire picture.