Do you Prejudge?

I was struck by the revelation this week that the Chinese Olympic Committee substituted a “cute” 7 year old girl for a “not so cute” 7 year old girl in the opening ceremonies. In case you missed the story here is a summary:

1. “Flawed” girl has great voice but chubby face and crocked teeth. She records a beautiful song for the opening ceremonies on tape

2. “Flawless” girl can’t sing so she lip syncs the song at the opening ceremonies pretending to have a great voice and the crowd goes wild.

Seriously. Could I make this up? The justification is that for the sake of national pride, and reputation. China has to put only its best “flawless” faces forward. Literally.

People are concerned with appearances. This should not be a surprise to sales people. We live with prejudging everyday. Nor is the behavior isolated to China. We ALL “judge books by their covers”. We all prejudge. It’s a human fact. Likely linked to survival at some level. Seams as though everything is.

We know our customers prejudge. This is why we are taught to be like-able through our dress, demeanor and words. We can’t change the fact that our customers judge us from the moment they see us. Instead, we need to use that knowledge to our advantage or risk having it used against us, to our disadvantage.

Sure you may not think its right or fair that people prejudge, and you may be right. But it happens and we have to learn to use it to our advantage if we are to succeed. Yes, you can continue to argue that it’s wrong, but I would rather recognize it for what it is and be rich.

On the flip side, prejudging is detrimental behavior for sales people. What I mean is that when we are selling, we must resist the urge to prejudge. We have to do the opposite of what our customers are doing, and the opposite of what is in our nature. When you prospective customer walks into the meeting looking scruffy, or “flawed” in any way resist the urge to prejudge them and instead focus on the dialogue. Discounting our prospective customer, or making decisions about their ability to pay/buy/ or participate based on the way they look, vs. who they actually are, can be a very expensive mistake.

If you want to sell successfully, don’t prejudge. Ever.