Is Frequency Bias Manipulative or Just a Smart Technique?

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Sales Motiviation

“I see your signs everywhere!”

For 20 years, I worked in commercial real estate, and if had a dollar for every time someone said that to me about our company, I’d have a ton of money.

They’re talking about the “FOR SALE” signs that real estate brokers plant in front of their listed properties.

Of course, even the busiest company doesn’t really have signs everywhere, but sometimes it feels like they do.

Why is that?

It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon also known as “frequency illusion.” Psychologists tell us that the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a cognitive bias. After noticing something for the first time, people have a tendency to notice it more often, leading you to believe that it has a high frequency.

Once you see something for the first time, it can feel like you start seeing it everywhere. Upon becoming aware of something new, you start to look for it unconsciously. Then you can’t help but notice it, leading you to believe it’s “everywhere.”

Increased awareness of something creates the illusion that it’s appearing more often than it really is. I see a company’s sign and then feel like similar signs are cropping up all over town.

If the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is true, and I believe it is, how can you use it to your advantage as a sales professional?

First, remember that successful sales pros bring an aura of “theatre” to their work. That doesn’t mean we lie and are disingenuous, but we do need to put on a bit of a show. At the very least, we should always leverage human nature. Be very aware of the perception and image you put forth.

If people are predisposed to frequency bias, then by all means, make it easy for them to experience frequency bias!

Social media is a handy tool for those who want to benefit from this phenomenon.

I just went to my Facebook page and checked my posts for calendar year 2019 (the last full year before the pandemic). Over the course of that year, I made a grand total 13 posts (with photographs) about presentations or workshops I had delivered in various places. That represented only 13 of 70 total presentations I did that year. Nevertheless, people often say things like this to me:

“Seems like you’re constantly speaking!”

“Man, you travel all the time!”

Actually, I’m NOT speaking and traveling all the time. If I did 70 presentations in 2019, it meant there were almost 300 days that year when I was not speaking or traveling. Because of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, it looks like I’m constantly on the road and constantly in front of an audience.

That’s why I encourage sales pros to post photos, articles, pieces of advice and other content related to the products and services you offer. If appropriate, it helps to highlight closed sales. As you make posts, focus on the more glamourous parts of your work.

An old saying tells us that “perception is reality.” If that’s the case, it behooves you to shape and mold the perception that people have of your life, your job, your company and the offering you sell.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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