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Three questions to defeat your liking bias!

Do you prefer to buy or to be sold?

2023 June 07 | by Arduino Mancini Effective thinking - Heuristics and biases

How often it happened to you to buy things that you did not need?

Or to buy from one person rather than another without the quality of what you were about to buy playing a crucial role?

Much more than you imagine, I bet.

In this post, I want to focus on a mechanism that many sales professionals leverage: the liking bias.

Liking bias is an attitude that influences our whole life, personal and professional, and makes us prefer relationships with people we like or who like us; as when we have to make a purchasing decision, in which the more we like a person the more we are willing to give him/her our preference.

In short, first we buy the person then what we need (if we need it…).

That is why people who want to sell us something do everything they can to make themselves pleasant: in addition to taking care of their appearance, they try to create a relationship and shorten the distance, often through the commonality of tastes that can grant them an advantage over competitors.

When we are asked questions about our preferences in sports, books, music, leisure time or (having perhaps incautiously named children or family) about our private life we tend to mistake for interest in our person what represents an attempt to establish a contact of emotional nature.

I mean, why buy from a stranger when you can deal with someone you have much in common with?

And who, because of this similarity, inspires you with confidence?

I know, there are situations in which attempting to shorten the distance can be dangerous; I am reminded of the salesperson who greets a person, about whose private life he knows little or nothing, with a clumsy “Everything all right at home?”, hardly aware of that anything could have happened at home.

Not to mention the salesperson who meets the Customer and, to break the ice and create the atmosphere necessary to discuss the business, finds nothing better than to talk about the crisis that grips the market.

But beyond situations prompted by awkwardness, experience shows that liking bias profoundly influences our buying behaviour; if you are sceptical, remember when you thought,

That person is so unfriendly that
I wouldn’t even buy a pack of candy from him/her.

How to combat liking bias?

How to prevent the liking of the person in front of you from decisively influencing your buying behaviour?

I can tell you what, for some time now, I have decided to do.

Before I make a purchase, I answer three questions:

  1. Do I really need what I’m about to buy?
  2. If I need it, am I sure that the item in front of me represents the best possible solution?
  3. If the person who wants to sell me the thing, I want to buy were different, perhaps obnoxious, or even rude, would I answer the previous questions in the same way?

I wish I could tell you that I always succeed in my intent, but I cannot; I can certainly say that I am on the right track to stop buying sympathy instead of what I need.

What is your experience with this?

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