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Successful sales calls by using cognitive biases

Making and receiving sales calls plus maintaining the record of successful, unsuccessful and follow-up sales calls can be tough. Yet, nothing gets tougher than creating that first sales conversation. In this article today, we are going to explain how businesses are using cognitive biases for successful sales calls.

Starting a sales conversation on the wrong foot can jeopardize the sales relationship ahead. Falter in your sales conversation and you can be sure that you have created a gap that is leaking prospects. However, every business owner has only one question in mind. Exactly what can go wrong in a sales conversation?

Sometimes, even the most-seasoned salesperson feel the rush of anxiety-induced adrenaline when they are about to make that cold call. They feel that anxiety because they have a perfect understanding of how first impressions really count.

Using cognitive biases for successful sales calls

Cognitive bias is an error in reasoning that causes humans to deviate from good judgment and make illogical decisions.

Whenever a sales rep picks up the phone to connect with  a prospect for the first time:

  • All their goals and the emotions attached to achieving or not able to achieve those goals emerge to the surface.
  • The pressure is now building upon the sales rep.
  • His/her emotions are affray.

This is the point where sales reps must get a grip on themselves and must focus on the task at hand. Focusing on the prospect’s needs is more important during opening call conversation than any other stage of the entire sales cycle.

Your sales reps must establish trust and quickly show your prospect the added value your service or product will bring. Sales personnel must understand how to positively use the principles of cognitive bias to their advantage. Doing so enables them to kick-start any sales conversation with confidence and complete focus on helping prospects.

In this article, we will help you learn how your sales reps can sell by understanding cognitive bias. We have explained about five crucial cognitive biases so that you understand if you are going to avoid making mistakes on that opening call or not.

In the next part, we are going to relate each cognitive bias with common 4 sales calling mistakes that sales reps make. However, we will also help you counter the issue and solve the problem.

1. Halo effect

The halo effect is a type of immediate judgment discrepancy, or cognitive bias, where a person making an initial assessment of another person, place, or thing will assume ambiguous information based upon concrete information. – Wiki

What is it?

First impression matters and heavily influences the success or failure of your first sales call to the prospect.


Building rapport and gaining the prospect’s trust must be sales reps initial focus. This first sales call is more about building a relationship beyond sales than sales pitching.

2. Anchoring effect

When two pieces of information are presented in front of the prospect one after the other prospects tend to rely on the first one more. They start relying on it so much that they “anchor” their decision-making to that initial piece of information.

What is it?

Your prospect’s inbuilt bias of providing more weight to the first piece of information they hear about something while forming subsequent opinions.


Make sure your sales reps understand exactly what the prospect needs as a solution. This step is crucial as there is no point in explaining the features and benefits of a product that the prospect has no clue about.

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3. Confirmation effect

The tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. – Wiki

What is it?

The prospect’s preference for things and situations that confirm with their preconceptions.


Your sales reps must spend more time listening to the prospects to understand what they think. Once you have information that the prospects are looking for, share it and confirm their thoughts.

4. Bandwagon effect

Beliefs, ideas, fads, and trends increase the more that they have already been adopted by others – Wiki

What is it?

The prospect is vulnerable to trust social proof.


Always encourage your sales reps for referring highly relevant case studies so that when they actually create a conversation with a prospect, they can tell them about the story of others success. Such an approach always helps in gaining prospects’ trust.

5. Ambiguity effect

The ambiguity effect is a cognitive bias where decision making is affected by a lack of information, or “ambiguity”. Wiki

What is it?

The prospects mistrust the set of options which they don’t understand.


Simplify your proposition and tell a compelling story tailored to make everything easy to understand.

Let’s talk about the mistakes that sales reps make during their sales calls and how these five cognitive biases can come in handy to avoid making these mistakes.

Mistake 1. Doing all the talking yourself

An average of 8 cold call attempts are required to reach a prospect

Which of the cognitive biases for successful sales calls to use?

  • Anchoring effect
  • Ambiguity effect
  • Confirmation effect

In a study conducted by Sales Hacker over one million sales calls, it was found that top performing sales professionals listen to their prospects for over 54% during their sales calls. Those sales reps who have average or lower performance on their sales calls talk for more than 68%.

Listening to your prospects is part of cold sales call success. When your sales reps allow the prospects to share their primary concern it allows your sales reps to weave your proposition in smoothly.

Practical tip

Asking sales probing questions to discover your prospects needs is a skill that your sales team must develop for achieving sales call success. However, setting up the sales call success has an initial stage where you have a thorough conversation with your prospects.

Here, you are building a rapport with them by allowing them to make the most conversation and share their major concerns. Once you have all their concerns noted down in front of you, you can present your solution in front of them.

Never try to steer the conversation towards closure, make sure you allow yourself to use better sales call openers for a prolonged and successful sales call.

Sales call opener examples

  • “What has been the biggest drawback your business has faced this year?”
  • “How is your revenue cycle different than the previous three years?”

Mistake 2. Imperfect sales pitch

Just 13% of customers believe a salesperson understands their needs.

Which of the cognitive biases for successful sales calls to use?

  • Anchoring effect
  • Ambiguity effect
  • Bandwagon effect
  • Confirmation effect

As a sales driven business, it is important for organizations to align their sales targets and goals with the prospects’ needs.

For a successful sales call, sales reps must understand these facts. The first sales call is not being made to make a sale. It is being done for setting the further stages of the sales pipeline, gather info regarding the prospect’s requirements and setting up a time to discuss how your team will take things further.

Discussing such elaborate details is necessary to make sure the prospect will go for the buy-in. Never include your pitch in during the initial call until or unless the prospect insists upon it. Your sales reps must learn these facts so that they do not make mistakes while making their sales calls.

If your sales reps are pitching to early into the call, then there is a high probability that they have not completely discovered the actual pain points that the prospects are facing. Such sales calls are bound to fail.

Practical tip

Highlight a tangible area in the prospect’s pain points and let them know how you have already solved such an issue. Social reviews and past customer feedback can be of great help.

Examples of creating conversation

  • “Will it be a relief for you and your team if your admin task goes down by 20%?”
  • “Is it possible to schedule a demo where you and your core team members can be shown how our solution can help mitigate your current pain points”

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Mistake 3. Incomplete preparation

82% of buyers accept meetings with sellers who reach to them

Which of the cognitive biases for successful sales calls to use?

  • Ambiguity effect
  • Anchoring effect
  • Confirmation effect
  • Halo effect

If your sales reps have done their research on the prospect and use the information while on call, the prospect feel valued. Prospects will value the research time you have taken and will help you build better rapport with them.

To be fully prepared for a sales call allows your sales reps to move beyond flattery. Apart from establishing trust, your sales reps can easily tailor their sales pitch based on the research. Being prepared allows your sales reps to overcome ambiguity, anchor the sales pitch and ensures they play to the confirmation bias.

Practical tip

Sales professionals must use LinkedIn for researching their prospects.

Twitter is also a great platform to do research on the prospect. Looking at your prospects’ Twitter feed can give your sales reps better perspective about their thought process.

Sales conversation example

  • “I see you have been managing XYZ Ltd. For 4 years now, what has changed in these years for your company in terms of sales challenges and revenue?”
  • “I really like the article you shared on the struggle real estate agents are facing in today’s time.”

Tailor your conversation and allow the prospect to add more issues (trust us, they will have) from their side.

There are CRM software available in the market that have world-class integrations which track and update the latest public info of your prospects. This is known as prospect profile enrichment. Having such information available with a few clicks, sales reps can save more time and prepare for their initial sales call and quickly build trust in their prospect.

Mistake 4. Not showcasing the expertise

Insight on the use of products or services for solving problems influences 66% prospects

Which of the cognitive biases for successful sales calls to use?

  • Ambiguity effect
  • Bandwagon effect

Successful sales reps spend 52% of their sales calls talking about business value. They also spend 39% less time on technical jargon and features. In simple terms, these sales reps act like consultants and not like typical sales professionals while handling their sales calls.

Practical tip

Your sales reps must understand that their call must be focused on the added value your solution will bring to the prospect rather than the features of your solution.

At this stage, you are demonstrating your expertise in front of the prospect. Your sales reps must delay their sales pitch to avoid failure of the call.

Conversation starter example

  • “There was a recent collapse of a big titan industry. It has affected the retail in this region heavily, how have you been affected by it?”
  • “X research company has been giving its predictions regarding this sector for the current year. What is your opinion on it?”

Conclusion – Master cognitive biases for successful sales calls

Sales, as they say, is a tough job and take its toll on the sales reps while they are carrying out their sales activities to achieve their quota. Instead of doing the muscle work, there are ways they can increase their conversion rate. We are hopeful that these cognitive biases will help your sales reps in exploring the faster and smarter way of closing more business and making quota.

Always remember, your sales calls are all about:

  • Building trust in your prospects and developing a rapport that will be the foundation of a lasting business relationship.
  • Listening more and responding accordingly. Your sales calls are not an opportunity for pitching.
  • It is important to be prepared for the prospect by going through their public profile, likings, and dislikes. Add a personal touch to the conversation will help your sales rep take the conversation a long way.

Your sales calls are the stepping stone to the various stages inside your sales pipeline. In the modern world, reducing manual labor on various admin tasks is crucial for a businesses’ revenue cycle. Salesmate CRM is a sales intelligence software that allows businesses to have a 360-degree view of their contacts.

Apart from that, it has an intuitive dashboard that allows sales managers to have a unified view of the sales pipeline so that they get a clear idea which deal is located at which stage. This small business CRM has various other features at its disposal, if you are curious to know more about the same then try Salesmate for free.


A writer with an uncommon funny bone and a knack for perfection, Saptarshi loves to write about anything that can be of help to businesses, people, and dogs! A true human at heart, he likes to spend most of his time researching the internet to find ways technology is influencing our daily life (positively).

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