Every Salesperson Should Learn About These 9 Cognitive Biases

Learn these 9 cognitive biases that every salesperson should be aware of

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    Every Salesperson Should Learn About These 9 Cognitive Biases

    Would the world of the sales force be more rational if we did as the world’s best marketing experts suggested and taught you about cognitive biases?

    I would say yes, and I would also say start immediately!

    Learning cognitive biases, and in some cases discovering them for the first time, and constantly keeping them in mind when preparing a presentation or a sale, can only help greatly, enhancing your capacity to think clearly and your overall sales abilities.

    Think clearly.

    While others look around to see what others are doing or assume they can only do so much to change the status quo, every salesperson should become a strong believer in what we refer “first principles thinking” or concentrate exclusively on the basic truths and barriers of whatever field you are working in, and gradually building up from there.

    Thinking like this may come naturally to a mind like Dave Dee’s, or Dan Kennedy’s mind, or to minds of Gary Halbert or John Carlton, but the rest of us, according to an absolute deluge of psychological study, often struggle to be as clear-headed, especially when it comes to actively use cognitive biases. 

    Because of the brain’s many inherent faults and biases, we become emotional, dread others’ judgment, or simply make mistakes in our mental calculations.

    Could we all get a little better, clear and direct in our thinking if we learned about the quirks that often trip us up as buyers?

    We prefer straightforward selections with clear information to convoluted, ambiguous options

    1. Less-is-better effect

    This happens only when the possibilities are analyzed separately. According to the evaluability hypothesis, independent judgments of items are frequently affected by easy-to-evaluate features rather than relevant ones.

    Similarly, customers are more likely to be pleased with a small extra something that costs the merchant relatively less – such as an extra cup of coffee – rather than when merchants really offer them a better deal on the goods itself, which would cost the merchant more in terms of resources.

    This is strongly dependent on the evaluability heuristic and/or fluency heuristic.

    As we continue to notice in sales tests, people place a higher value on proposals based on more straightforward attributes for them to assess (attribute substitution).

    Other research discovered that students, for example, favored amusing posters over artistic posters based on characteristics they could easily express, but that this preference was reversed when they were not required to justify their choice.

    There are a variety of practical applications for this phenomenon.

    • Suppose a conference speaker anticipates that approximately 30 people will attend his or her presentation but wishes to appear popular. In that case, he or she should hold the presentation in a small room with 30 or fewer seats rather than a huge room with more than 100 seats. 
    • To maximize profits, any marketer should sell a package of items of high-quality and high in value perception for the customer, rather than a package containing those items plus 15 other products of lower quality.
    • For example, a producer may develop two variants of a product and want to know which version consumers will prefer. The public presentation allows consumers to compare and contrast the differences between them; however, the presentation of the two separately better predicts the consumer’s real experience with the product.

    2. The conjunction fallacy

    The conjunction fallacy assumes that conjunction is more likely than any single one of its conjuncts is true.

    Example: Angy went to the grocery store and purchased tofu with eggplant and broccoli and frozen meatless lasagna. Does it appear to be more likely that Angy is a woman or a woman who happens to be a vegetarian?

    Again, many people would say that she is more likely to be a vegetarian woman, but the truth is that she is more likely to be a woman than a guy. We can safely assume that she is a woman based on her given name alone. However, based on her shopping cart, we may infer that she is a vegetarian, although this may not be the case. She may only be interested in tofu, vegetables, and meatless lasagna.

    People fall into the Conjunction Fallacy for a variety of reasons.

    When examining these questions, most people do not take into account which scenario or event is more likely.

    Instead, they consider options A and B to be rivals rather than alternatives to one another. But what they don’t comprehend is that one scenario is only an abridged version of another.

    • This often represents the tendency to judge the likelihood of an event depending on how closely it resembles another event.
    • This is also why we marketers must not assume anything. We must not assume that the customer knows or understands or is just interested in understanding our service. Still, we must strive to answer every possible question in advance so as not to leave room for doubt or misinterpretation on the part of the customer. This helps us build credibility that relieves the client of further doubts and makes him choose our service more readily before leaving him frustrated to seek advice elsewhere.

    3. Occam's razor effect

    Occam’s razor is defined as “the rule of least resistance.”

    An unavoidable scientific and philosophical rule that states that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily, which can be read as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities

    Unlikely explanations are being’ shaved off.’

    Essentially, when confronted with multiple competing explanations for the same occurrence, the simplest explanation is most likely to be the most accurate.

    Occam’s razor asserts that the simplest answer is preferable to a more complicated explanation in layman’s terms. Simple theories are easier to verify than complex theories. Simple solutions are less difficult to put into action.

    4. The Belief bias

    In logic, belief bias is the tendency to evaluate the strength of arguments in terms of their plausibility as a conclusion rather than the strength they support in reality.

    Accepting an argument that supports a conclusion consistent with one’s values, beliefs, and prior knowledge is greater than the likelihood of rejecting counter-arguments to the conclusion.

    Belief bias is a type of inaccuracy that is exceedingly widespread and hence significant; we can easily be blinded by our beliefs and come to erroneous conclusions due to them.

    It has been discovered that belief bias impacts a variety of reasoning tasks, including conditional reasoning, relation reasoning, and transitive reasoning.

    This effect is also known as belief bias in syllogistic reasoning, and it is the tendency to rely on past beliefs rather than following all of the rules of logic.

    According to past knowledge and experience, belief refers to a grasp of the contents of reasoning.

    In such situations, the believing bias can manifest itself in the following ways:

    • If people do not believe the conclusions of a study, they are more inclined to doubt the experimental design used in the study.
    • People are more inclined to reject overgeneralizations based on religion and social class if those overgeneralizations conflict with their already held ideas about those topics.
    • The following day, after the presidential election results have been announced, people are more likely than they are not to attempt to falsify assertions that conflict with the actual results of the elections rather than claims consistent with their political ideology.
    • When different people are provided the same type of data about politics, they are more inclined to accept findings that support their political beliefs than they are to reject results that contradict their political convictions.

    Please keep in mind that a closely related issue is the confirmation bias, which is a cognitive bias that encourages people to seek out and prioritize information that confirms their preexisting ideas, as well as to perceive and recall information in a way that confirms those beliefs.

    5. The Confirmation bias

    Confirmation bias is the propensity to seek out, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. It is also known as confirmation seeking.

    People demonstrate this when they selectively provide information that supports their existing beliefs while ignoring contradictory information or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing beliefs.

    The effect is greater when the outcome is desired when the problem is emotionally charged, and when the beliefs are well entrenched. Although confirmation bias cannot be completely removed, it can be managed via education and training in critical thinking abilities, for example.

    In order to explain four specific consequences, researchers have used the concepts of a biased search for information, partial and subjective interpretation of this information, and biased memory recall.

    • Polarization of attitudes (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence).
    • Perseverance and faith in one’s own abilities (when beliefs persist after the evidence is shown to be false).
    • The illogical primacy effect is a phenomenon that occurs when a person has a disproportionate amount of power (greater reliance on information encountered early in a series).
    • A fictitious relationship (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

    Consider the following scenario: a person believes that left-handed persons are more creative than right-handed ones. This individual places a larger emphasis on “proof” that supports their existing beliefs whenever they come into contact with someone who is both left-handed and creative in their approach to life.

    6. The ambiguity effect

    Uncertainty leads to confusion.

    The ambiguity effect is a cognitive bias in which decision-making is influenced by a lack of information, or “ambiguity,” in a situation or situation.

    The effect suggests that people prefer to choose alternatives for which the probability of a pleasant outcome is known over options for which the chance of a favorable outcome is uncertain.

    • Another reason why we absolutely must always show the result, examples of clients who have achieved the result, case studies on the results that can be obtained, always keeping absolute clarity.
    • This is very well served by the questions and answers (the q&a section), to raise any doubts of customers and clarify any possible steps.

    To prevent making mistakes, we strive to maintain autonomy and group status while avoiding making irrevocable judgments and decisions that we cannot reverse.

    7. Status quo bias

    In psychology, status quo prejudice is defined as an emotional bias that indicates a liking for the current condition of affairs.

    The current baseline (known as “status quo”) is used as a reference point, and any deviation from that baseline is interpreted as a failure.

    In addition, when it is necessary to distinguish between a rational preference for the status quo and an emotional preference for the status quo, such as when the current state of affairs is objectively superior to the alternatives available or when imperfect information is a significant problem, this applies to emotional statistics as well.

    To be more clear: a substantial body of evidence, on the other hand, demonstrates that status quo bias commonly influences human decision-making processes.

    "Status quo prejudice should be separated from psychological inertia, which refers to a failure to intervene in the current state of events."

    “Status quo prejudice should be separated from psychological inertia, which refers to a failure to intervene in the current state of events.”

    The bias interacts with various non-rational cognitive processes such as loss aversion, existence bias, endowment effect, mere exposure, and regret avoidance, to name a few examples.

    There are numerous experimental and field examples to choose from.

    It applies mostly to emotional states that bind you to a specific set of knowledge or a particular object.

    • This effect occurs, for example, when you don’t want to open yourself to a knowledge that is even slightly different from what you have learned previously, when you don’t want to change a tool that you use because you feel it is yours. You like it, even if you know very well that more updated tools would make you work better and more efficiently.
    • The status quo bias can be shown in people’s decisions about retirement planning, health, and ethical choices, among other things.

    8. Social comparison bias

    This bias really involves too many effects, so it needs a separate article.

    Read more here.

    9. The "mighty" Decoy effect

    One of the best effects you can take advantage of.

    Asymmetric dominance (also known as the decoy effect or the attraction effect) is a marketing phenomenon in which consumers are more likely to change preference between two options when they are also presented with a third option and the first two options asymmetrically dominate that.

    Asymmetries dominate when one choice is superior in all respects to another alternative while being subordinate and inferior in some considerations and superior in others to the first option.

    This means that in terms of certain traits determining preferences, one choice is entirely dominated (and so inferior to the other).

    In contrast…

    The other is just partially dominated (and therefore superior to).

    When the asymmetrically dominated alternative is available, a higher percentage of consumers will choose the dominating option than when the asymmetrically overlooked option is not available.


    The asymmetrically dominated choice serves as a decoy to raise preference for the dominating alternative, which is advantageous to both parties.

    The decoy effect is also an example of a violation of the axiom of decision theory that states that irrelevant alternatives are independent of one another.

    Put it in another way:

    When picking between two options, an unappealing third option might alter the perceived preference between the other options by a significant margin.

    A great example from Wikipedia

    Mindset, Habits, and Environment.

    As the decoy effect is known, it’s a term that refers to how others influence you. Since the beginning of marketing, it’s been used to describe how advertising and persuasion can affect consumers’ behavior.

    The theory suggests that if you believe something, it works. If you don’t believe something, you will disregard it as false information.

    The decoy effect isn’t just an opinion or academic theory.

    In fact, the way companies and organizations use this bias is often surprisingly effective in influencing consumer decisions.

    The decoy effect is a cognitive bias that happens whenever you are influenced to choose an option by the appearance of another option. It’s a theory of human behavior.

    Decoy effect psychology

    The decoy effect is an effect in human behavioral psychology that is typically studied in the context of advertising and marketing.

    The decoy effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people are influenced to choose an option that they do not fully understand. People are especially prone to the decoy effect when presented with a choice or when they are given information that presents a false choice.

    In this sense, the decoy effect is a type of cognitive bias.

    This is done by using something that usually doesn’t appeal to them but looks like it may be appealing.

    The bigger the lure, the greater the chance of this occurring


    When you present to your clients your different options:

    • Which one they choose will be determined by their judgment of the relative value for money of your offering.
    • You can make your client’s decision easier by offering them with a third option that allows them to make what appears to be a more considered comparison.

    What to make decoys work for you?

    Whenever customers are presented with a large number of options, they frequently feel choice overload, which psychologist Barry Schwartz refers to as the tyranny of choice or the paradox of choice.

    Many behavioral experiments have repeatedly shown that increasing choice complexity increases anxiety and makes decision-making more difficult to accomplish.

    In an attempt to alleviate this concern, consumers try to simplify the process by focusing on only a few criteria (for example, price and quantity) when determining the best overall value for their dollar.

    An effective decoy manipulates these important decision-making characteristics to lead you in a specific direction while giving you the impression that you are making a sensible, informed decision.

    This is referred to as “nudging” by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (the founders of nudge theory), who define it as “any component of the choice architecture that modifies people’s behavior in a predictable way without restricting any options.”

    According to some, even manipulative pushing can be justifiable if the aims are noble, and not all nudging is manipulative.

    It has proven to be effective in social marketing. It has been used to urge individuals to make positive actions like conserving energy, eating more healthfully, or donating their organs.

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