The Duck Test: The Curse of Expectation Bias in Discovery and Demos - Great Demo

The Duck Test: The Curse of Expectation Bias in Discovery and Demos

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck, right?


It turns out that many seabirds pass the “duck test” above, but aren’t ducks, including coots, grebes, and loons, which belong to different non-duck families.

In doing discovery and delivering demos, vendors often suffer similar expectation bias.

We’ve heard prospects respond the same way over and over, and accordingly we expect that our next prospect will follow the same path. If we aren’t really listening, we may miss an important aspect that makes this prospect different or unique.

The moral? Practice active listening and, when you hear something novel or different, be curious and explore! How you engage in this part of the conversation and what you learn can make the difference between a successful sale vs a loss to a competitor or a No Decision outcome.

Have you ever suffered from expectation bias? (And how would you know, if you weren’t listening carefully?!)


(Groucho Marx offered a different twist on the duck test: “He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”)


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