A Deep Dive into Preference, Perceptions, and Prejudice and Your Customer!

The CustoemrThis is, and will remain, an important topic.  No matter whether it is the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or any decade in the 2000s.  Some things will get incrementally better, yet hope that they will change is still an interesting premise.


This post will reinforce the fact that the customer makes choices, and the sales professional must determine the way to interface  and find success.  This post will show clarification of my view on racial perceptions, racial preferences, and racial prejudices. I will also expand on some previous posts as to ways to change increase effectiveness when faced with preferences and prejudice from your prospect or buyer in some of my upcoming posts.   I have dealt with it in earlier posts; yet will impose a more striking angle in the upcoming posts.

The reality is that an understanding of these two items is essential in the day-to-day activities of the Black sales professional.

The 3Ps – Perceptions, Preferences, Prejudices

Racial Perceptions

Perceptions can slowly be changed.  They exist, and come from many sources.  A person’s life experiences, the media, parents, friends, and the knowledge and ignorance of interaction or lack of interaction formperceptions.  When these life experiences are negative, we have negative perceptions that fuel preferences and help substantiate prejudices.

Perceptions are normally wrong based on their application against a group of people based on some input which was either not factual, or was spread across a group of people without warrant. We will talk more about perceptions in an upcoming post, exposing activities that help to give credence to the negative perceptions.

Perceptions are prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups, and we should not criticize perceptions that we disagree with if we are going to carry perceptions of our own which are damaging to other races or ethnic groups.  We all need to fight against this activity.

Racial Preference

Preferences are a different and are powerful.  They are not always meant to be deleterious to a race or ethnic group, yet can have the same effect.   Your customer’s level desire of whom they want to work with is directly related to their relationship comfort.  That does not make it right.   Some of the preferences come from perceptions and some come from prejudice, yet preference is more substantial than those two inputs.  Comfort levels, familiarity, a lack of understanding, and some “lumping” of people into groups based on common elements manifest preference.

As an example, putting all Hispanics or African Americans into respective group on the basis that their ethnic background and “perceived” activities that are similar in nature is a perception which can be damning.  It is not often thought of that way, yet it is true.

Whether it is preference or it is prejudice, the effect is the same; lost opportunities, lack of diversity, locking out of good people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

Racial Prejudice

Prejudice in life, and what we do from the standpoint of an occupation is wrong.  If we define prejudice as Webster does,  “an irrational attitude of hostility directed against, [in this situation] a group or race”, it is insidious.

To discriminate because of race, ethnicity, or gender is at the base of everything we should never endorse.  When it comes to sales, it is no different.  It is not manufactured by anything substantive, but is fueled by narrow-mindedness.  I am sure you recognize that if it is wrong for one group, it is wrong for all.

Prejudice changes the landscape.  It cannot necessarily be changed, and any changes may well be short lived.  It robs the Black sales professional of opportunity and in some cases, based on your territory, success, yet exist, and will not be removed from the marketplace in my lifetime.

I will aver in an upcoming post that as sure as we are that prejudice exists, it is much less prevalent than the problems with preference.  This, we need to recognize.  We can change perceptions…we can overcome preference.  Should we spend time trying to solve or sell when prejudice is involved?

Blacks who discriminate against Hispanics or Whites in the sales arena are in the same “boat” as other ethnic groups that discriminate.  Whites who are in positions of power get more attention because of their roles.  The truth is that prejudice whether in a role of power or any role is wrong.

Why is this a Big Deal?

This is a big deal because recognition and tactics are so important for success.  There are tactics to defeat racial preference.  There are tactics to nullify and change negative racial perceptions.  Racial prejudice is different.  It is pervasive and even in situations where you are given the business, a positive relationship does not exist, so the business is potentially borrowed anyway.

There is no situation more gratifying than enjoying your occupation and getting a fair opportunity to perform it to your best ability.  Learning what you can change and what you cannot will conserve energy for redirection to positive tasks, as well as promote growth.

I hope you will read these items in the next couple of weeks.

Please check the upcoming posts tab for a general listing.

Your comments are welcome.

Do You Have These Customer Facing Skills?

There is no easy way to be the best.  Part of it is achieving skills and attributes, and part of it is just plain hard work    The skills in this post will make a noticeable difference quickly.  Paying attention to these, and you wil see the benefits early and often.  Always be the best!


I hope I never sound like a broken record, but there are some ‘rules’ that I believe in.  One of them is being prepared; another is mastering the relationship.  Those two are important, but there are more.  Realize that you can change the game with these skills and activities.

It is imperative that you have command of some very important skills to help you be successful.  We are going to make the assumption that you have a command of the requisite sales skills.  Warning…those skills are not enough.  You need skills regarding relationship building, responsiveness, and being effective.

It is work being prepared, just as it is work doing those activities that make you effective.  There is no way out around that.  I assure you…these things will reward you for the rest of your career.

Skills and Activities that Change the Game!

Be an Expert or a SpecialistThe Expert

Visit these BSJ articles - Your Customer Needs an Expert and More On Being an Expert

Yes, your customer does need an expert.  They may not have told you, or they might have used some key phrases such as, “I need someone who understands my business.”  Customers do not want pretenders so study your trade and your area of specialization.  When you specialize, you will want to get some certification, accreditation, or degree.  In the absence of those being available, you will want some recognition notoriety.  One way or another, you want to be recognized.  Don’t take this one for granted as it definitely changes the game.

Network Effectively

Visit these BSJ articles– Networking for the Black Sales Professional and Know Your Elevator PitchNetworking

Whether you’re a sales professional that works for a larger concern, or an entrepreneur who runs a one-person shop, you need to hone your networking skills to a degree that you are effective and efficient.  You know the importance, as the professional who is solid at networking effectively is never without someone to present to.  Yes, it is speed dating at its finest but there is no activity like it that can yield these types of favorable results.  You will get a lot of practice at this and a lot of time for trial and error.

Create Deep Enduring Relationships

Visit these BSJ Articles – Deepening Your Customer Relationships and Deepening Your Customer Relationships Part II.  I would also suggest visitingRelationshipShould You Ask your Customer for Feedback?

Unless your sales job is transactional such as a one-time sale, you will need to have an actual relationship with your customer.  You will need to get to know them, listen to them, and be responsive.  If you cannot develop a relationship that is more than casual, you are always at risk for another sales professional.  Relationships take time, develop dependence, and generate trust.  Who will risk their position, project, and profits on you and your product if you have not been able to develop a relationship?

Be ResponsiveUltimate Sales Professional

Visit these BSJ articles – Responsiveness – the Objective of the Sales Professionaland Following-Up! – Correspondence Creates an Edge.

Being responsive and exceeding expectations can separate you from other sales professionals.  Excellent follow-up is an activity that needs more attention.  It can begin to give you a special preference that accrues to someone that others can only hope to copy.   The responsive professionals are in demand because they do the things that others only do intermittently.  They communicate, keep commitments, and look toward the future.  This is a requirement to be the Ultimate Sales Professional (BSJ – Ultimate Sales Professional 1Ultimate Sales Professional 2, and Ultimate Sales Professional 3) as it definitely separates the professional. Responsiveness is easy to talk about, but more difficult to do, as it requires you to exceed customer expectations, and be what your company needs as well.  It can be done, and you will see that at a point, these two different objectives intersect at a point.

Be Memorable

Visit this BSJ article– Make Yourself Memorable

Thank You NoteIt is not good enough to be good, or even the best, if you are not remembered!  Take the time to make sure they remember you as it will show well for all reasons.  Always be the professional and never miss a chance to present your (yes, your) brand, as opposed to the company you work for.   Your brand in addition to being responsive and all of the other fine attributes, you stay close.  You drop a handwritten note showing your appreciation.  You pass along emails and newsletters that should concern the customer.  You strengthen the customer’s knowledge and he becomes dependent on you.

Master the Skills – Make the Money

There are more skills that you might need, and more that are crucial at different times, but in the sales arena, if you put these together along with the skills that make you accomplished within the organization that you work in, you can ‘change the game’.

Review the articles that I have shown, and you will see the specifics. Remember, you cannot gain mastery without working hard at these.  You will be accomplished with them!

Your comments are always welcome.