Summary / TL;DR: When we have an attachment to something – whether emotional or fiscal – we will often view that “thing” through the lens of cognitive bias, or, hearing what we want to be true, and discarding that which we don’t want to be true. This happens all the time in Win / Loss interviews.
As a firm that specializes in Win / Loss, we often get this question from prospects: “Why can’t we do this ourselves?”
That’s a good question.
Aside from any other inhibitors to running Win / Loss discovery calls – lack of time and resources, lack of tools and methodology, fear that a customer won’t give you the hard truth – one of the key reasons we believe that Win / Loss discovery should be outsourced is the problem of cognitive bias.
Cognitive bias happens to all of us, and it’s sneaky because we don’t know we’re doing it. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it:
“Cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from normal rationality and judgment. Individuals create their own subjective reality from their perception of the input. Cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.”
So, in plain English, when something is important to us or we have an attachment of some kind to that thing or that transaction, the chances of us hearing what we want to hear and discarding what we don’t want to hear increases dramatically.
Cognitive bias kicks in, and we don’t even realize it. There are all manner of cognitive biases: apophenia, black swan theory, defense mechanism, Pollyanna reasoning, recall bias, and so on. The bottom line, though, is that when we ask a salesperson, a product manager or a marketer to let us talk to a won or lost customer about a deal, they are attached to it. They won’t know it, but their own cognitive biases will subtly emerge.
We don’t say this in an accusatory or pejorative way; we just say it in a matter of fact way. Now, with an independent organization like SteelPoint Research, we have no such attachment to the outcome of a Win / Loss interview. The only attachment we have is to getting the unvarnished truth, because that’s what you value and so that’s what we value as well.
Cognitive bias, yeah, it’s a thing.