When coaching clients and asking specific questions about opportunities they are working, I hear answers about how the customer is thinking and what the customer is planning to do. I’ll then ask, “did the customer actually say that or are you imposing what you think upon the situation?” Rarely do I hear, “yes, the customer said that specially, and here it is in my notes.” Almost always the response is what we, the salesperson, thinks is going to happen, what the customer is thinking, not backed up by the customer actually verbalizing it. We’re assuming a whole lot. And everyone knows the old saying about assuming. Assumptions are a silent killer in sales. The big problem is that we then act upon these assumptions, assuming we know what’s happening, and the opportunity derails. Inevitably, the customer gets blamed when, in reality, we were acting on assumptions that were of our own making and simply not true.
Here’s another problem with assuming: your customer is doing it too. What assumptions are they making? Are these assumptions helping you or hurting you? Wouldn’t you like to know?
So what can we do about this? Assume nothing. Don’t pretend that you can read their mind because you can’t. Actively listen, clarify everything, and write things down. Always do a check in to ensure you’re both on the same page. They’ll appreciate you doing this and it makes you look different than all the other typical salespeople.
What might you be assuming about the deals you are working? Is your assumption true? How do you know? What might your customer be assuming?