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What Making Assumptions in Sales Does to Your Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jun 16, 2022

Doing research and preparing for a prospect meeting so that you know what questions to ask is important. However, it is even more important to have a healthy level of skepticism and not assume anything about what they may or may not need.


Since Alex and her husband moved just around the corner from me and Linda, twice a week I ride my mower over to their place to mow their yard. I have time to do it, I like doing it, they are busy moving in and chasing their 21-month-old around, so why not.

Not too long ago on the way back to our house, I noticed a neighbor’s yard had not been mowed in a while.

I had a flashback to 24 years ago- Anthony, our son had a cardiac arrest and was in a coma and in Children’s hospital for over 90 days. It was the fall of the year. The grass was still growing and eventually leaves started falling. Our neighbors, without saying a word would occasionally pitch in. We would come home from an almost 24-hour a day and the grass was mowed and/or leaves were gone.

I thought that perhaps the same thing had happened to our neighbor, so I took a few moments to mow their front yard.

The next day I was driving home, drove down our street, and saw a sign that said; “Stop mowing our lawn, Karen!”

I’m not up on the whole “Karen” thing so I didn’t understand what the intended message meant. I just thought that perhaps there was a neighbor-type of dispute going on and one of the participants was named Karen. I come to find out that they were talking about me.

As I thought about it more, there are 2 sales & selling messages here:

Salespeople making assumptions. I assumed that there was a need when there wasn’t one. How often have you gone out on a call assuming that the prospect was compelled to buy something, was willing to spend money, and could fire their current relationship? Oh, you may not have assumed that in the very beginning but when:
    1. The prospects say they are unhappy, thinking about, considering, looking into, and you automatically start thinking they are looking to buy. This happens because you were either taught about “buying signals” or do not have a healthy skepticism of prospects.
    2. They said, “I’m the decision-maker” you took them at their word.
    3. They talked about mistakes made, lousy service, and price increases, you thought they were willing to leave the incumbent.
    4. The prospect said, “This looks great, I really like what you’ve done here” you figured that they were ready to buy, and were surprised when they said they wanted to think it over
Prospects make assumptions. My neighbor assumed that someone mowed their yard because the grass was really getting long, and perhaps was offended because it looked unkempt. How often do prospects make assumptions about you, and how you may go about doing business?
    1. They have been brainwashed by advertising that everything is about price.
    2. They believe that all insurance brokers, bankers, and investment advisors are only out there to make commissions and couldn’t possibly care about them and their needs.
    3. They figure that you are in the business of providing free information and quotes because that is what they experienced from all the other bad salespeople they’ve dealt with.
    4. They assume they can take their time because chances are you didn’t uncover any urgency by what you said and did.
    5. They think you are like all the rest because your pitch sounded like all the rest:
      • We have great service
      • Our products are industry-leading edge
      • We care about our clients
      • Our pricing is competitive

NOTE: No one in the marketplace says; our service sucks, our products are middle of the pack, our clients are secondary, or our prices are incredibly high.

So, the next time you make a call or go out on an appointment, pretend this is the first time ever that you sold to a farmer, doctor, department head, or CEO. Do your homework ahead of time about their industry so that you know the right questions to ask and understand their potential concerns but do not assume anything about what they may or may not need. Have the curiosity of a child BUT have a healthy level of skepticism as well.

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Topics: sales succes, think it overs


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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