When account managers are running account reviews it’s important to make sure certain patterns of behaviour are not being (unconsciously) followed. When we are helping customers to understand why their account reviews are not working well these are the most common examples of cognitive problems:
- “The customer said the decision has been postponed until next month” – displacement. I am not responsible for the delay, someone else is.
- “If we do the things we usually do, everything will be OK” – the optimism bias. Salespeople are very susceptible to optimism, this is a good thing, but it can lead to avoiding confronting reality.
- “We just got a big order from them last week, so things are turning” – the availability heuristic.Basing the future on rule of thumb, intuitive perceptions. Because this happened this will follow.
- “This is what happened with Acme Services; this account will get going in the same way eventually”—an anchoring error. Making false connections.
- “We all think the deal will come through this quarter”—the bandwagon effect. Dangerous to disagree with a strong prevailing view. Closely associated with Groupthink.
- “Three different stakeholders in the account have suggested to us things will soon be looking up”—the confirmation bias. This happens often, when salespeople are looking for a particular response, they find it, sometimes even when it is barely there.
- “We need more data before we decide next steps”—the information bias. ‘We need more data’ is often a proxy for delaying making a decision, or doing something – anything.
- “I thought the filled in account plan was what you were looking for” – gaming the system. Rather than dealing with the real issues a tendency to try to move the goalposts, game the system by ticking boxes etc.
It’s unusual to see all these in evidence in the same meeting, but it’s common to see 3-5 being used. When this happens it constricts the dialogue and increases frustration. The meeting starts to feel inauthentic.
If you would like to improve your account planning processes and behaviours start here.