“Is anyone,” (is anyone)
“Out there?” (out there)
An echo chamber in business is described as an environment in which a person or company encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.
Like many folks in sales, I’m a numbers guy. There’s consistency in numbers, a kind of comfort in the dependability of 1+1=2. I believe that in that comfort in numbers, in our desire for dependability and predictability, we sometimes end up in echo chambers.
We find a tactic, a strategy or trick that works and we think that it’s the only way to go.
“Cold calling is the only way to reach our prospects.”
“A phone that never rings is never answered.”
“Cold calling is dead, it doesn’t work on today’s modern buyer.”
“Email outreach is all we have to do, it’s the only way.”
“Social selling is the only way to reach your clients.”
“Prospecting on LinkedIn doesn’t work, it’s just a fad.”
Whenever you start using words like ‘never’ and ‘only’ and ‘always,’ it is a sure sign you are entering the echo chamber.
MODERN DAY EXAMPLES
Not sure if you are trapped? Look no further than the news you watch or the social media feeds you follow. Does your news only show one side of an argument? Does the person on your social feed always argue for or against a topic despite factual evidence to the contrary? I see it every day. I used to live it every day.
Do you have strong opinions? I did. I watched news that reinforced them at every turn, and then read books that solidified them. I hung around friends that looked like me and sounded like me and if someone disagreed with me, rather than engaging with them and listening to them, I’d flippantly think that they just ‘didn’t get it.’ I was biased to my own views.
Here’s the problem: when you live in the echo chamber for too long, it turns into cognitive bias which is defined as the way a particular person understands events, facts, and other people, based on their own beliefs and experiences and may not be reasonable or accurate.
What does this tunnel focus look like in business and particularly, in social sales?
Do you say, ‘This is how we’ve always done it,” or “This has always worked?”
Consistency is good, and I’m not advocating change for change’s sake, but breaking free of the echo chamber means you must be open to new ideas and especially new perspectives.
This means you live a sales life of inspection and introspection. and monitor what is effective and what changes are needed on the approaching business landscape. You surround yourself with others of differing opinion and listen to other’s point of view and consider it before dismissing it.
Escaping the gravitational pull of our business, sales and social sales echo chambers must be initiated by leaders first.
They need to be the trailblazers and lead by example.
You do this by making sure that those within your own organizations that have opposing views have a place at the table.
You encourage respectful dialogue that includes the consideration of new ideas, ideas that are both outside of the box and inside of the box and you police yourself. Look at where you are getting information and what sources lead you to draw the conclusions you are coming to.
For me, the social upheaval of the last few years led me to look at my echo chamber and I was shocked when I realized that everyone in my orbit looked like me.
That led me to seek out acquaintances that didn’t look like me, people who were on the receiving end of injustice and persecution and I asked questions. I listened. I read books that were FAR from the recommended reading lists of most people in my orbit.
This opened my mind and my eyes, and I was able to change some of the things I had thought in the past. But here’s the most important thing that happened- it taught me that I could entertain other thoughts, thoughts that I might not agree with, but can respect.
If businesses and particularly sales teams are going to restore trust and credibility to their arenas, we must step out of the echo chamber and embrace thoughts, ideas, strategies and even ways of doing business that seem foreign and counterintuitive to us now.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Whether you find yourself in an echo chamber in your personal or professional life, here are points to ponder to help you not only recognize the fact, but start to change:
- Listen. REALLY listen when you talk to people that ‘rub you the wrong way’ and don’t listen to react or respond, listen to hear and to understand. Consider where they are coming from, how their background may be different from yours and how that might play into their view, decision or action.
- Educate yourself. Whether we’re talking about a different political or socio-economic view or a different sales or business strategy, read a book, watch a documentary and do some research.
- Keep an open mind. This may be the hardest part. This is where the introspection part comes into play. Examine your life, your beliefs and your actions and ask yourself if you’re really open to new ideas, new ways of thinking and different viewpoints.
None of this will be easy, but it will be worth it. When you embrace other points of view and at least admit that while you may not agree with them, you can accept them as valid, you will win new partners. This can happen in both your personal life and your professional life.
Here’s to getting out of our collective echo chambers and hearing our voice loud and clear not on repeat.
Originally published on Bill McCormick’s LinkedIn.