Cognitive Dissonance in Sales Culture

Cognitive Dissonance:

“an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by modifying an existing belief, or rejecting one of the contradictory ideas.” – Wikipedia

Today’s Sales culture is wrought with cognitive dissonance.  Here is an example:

The executive orators give great lip service to how we are in all this for the long term success of the customer.  All the marketing material says this, so it MUST be true, but you better frig’n get that deal in and hit that number this quarter…the interest of the customer is clearly secondary.  In addition, there are no metrics or compensation mechanisms in place to reinforce the behavior. Unfortunately, Salespeople live in this dissonance every day.  In fact, if you can’t handle a significant amount of cognitive dissonance, today’s sales culture may not be for you. (There are a few companies, however, that go to great lengths to align their corporate lip service to the compensation plans of their Salespeople.  We have a long way to go in this area but at least its a start.)

I’ve known some good salespeople who have been eaten alive by the cognitive dissonance in their sales organizations.  Unfortunately, pointing this out in one of these organizations will usually not do you any good.  Either the dissonance will chip away at your performance until you leave or you are asked to leave, you will succumb to it and become a second rate sales person, OR you will learn to navigate through the dissonance and serve the customer despite it.

I suggest the latter.