Weak Evidence or None at All?

When you train a new sales person one of the hardest things that they have to learn to do, is have conviction. Often as sales managers we can train them on the industry, our products and services and some of the objections they will face in the field. But one thing you can’t teach them is how to sound confident  and present positive strong facts when talking to prospects. To often the staements they make sound weak and rehearsed.

New sales people often don’t really believe what they are selling because they have not seen the product or service work first hand. Although you can show them the boatload of customers you have that love you and your service, until they experience it themselves, they sound weak when presenting thier case. even if your evidence is strong, if presented badly, it hurt your proposal. I had always known this leads to losing credibility, but I did realise how big of an issue it can be until I read some new research from Brown University

Experiments by Brown University psychologists have produced positive evidence that people often think about positive evidence the wrong way — if it is weak. Defying logic, people given weak evidence can regard predictions supported by that evidence as less likely than if they aren’t given the evidence at all. 

Look at the statement that the professors used.

“Widespread use of hybrid and electric cars could reduce worldwide carbon emissions. One bill that has passed the Senate provides a $250 tax credit for purchasing a hybrid or electric car. How likely is it that at least one-fifth of the U.S. car fleet will be hybrid or electric in 2025?”

That middle sentence is the weak evidence. People presented with the entire statement — or similar statements with the same three-sentence structure but on different topics — answered the final question lower than people who read the statement without the middle sentence. They did so even though other people who saw the middle statement in isolation rated it as positive evidence for, in this case, higher adoption of hybrid and electric cars.

“It’s not a conscious choice to behave this way,” said Sloman. “When people are thinking forward in a causal direction, they just think about the cause they have in mind and the mechanism by which that would lead to the consequence they have in mind. They neglect alternative causes.”

Fernbach, the paper’s first author, put it this way: “People take what you suggest and run with it.”

What does all this mean?? 

Give people a poor or weak evidence and they will doubt you in thier head. Give people no evidence and the will supply thier own reason to believe you. So what to do??  Practice as a professional salesperson and as a sales manager.

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