Sales and Sales Management Blog

July 29, 2008

Guest Articles, “Costly Assumptions,” by Keith Rosen


Costly Assumptions
by Keith Rosen

When clients ask for help in closing more sales, I’d ask them to list the objections they are hearing that prevented the sale. It’s when they start stumbling over their response that I ask, “Are these the objections you are hearing directly from your prospects or what you’re assuming as the reason why they don’t buy?”

Whether it’s around our sales efforts, during a conversation with our boss (and our kids), or when trying to uncover ways to best manage your team, certain assumptions can dramatically affect the results we seek to achieve, especially during a conversation.

Rather than uncovering the real barrier to the sale, assuming the objection becomes a detrimental process that spreads like a virus throughout every sales call. These assumptions are not based on the facts but rather the salesperson’s assumption of the truth.

Salespeople often fall into this trap when creating solutions for their prospects. During a conversation with a prospect, they uncover a similar situation or problem that they have handled with a previous client. So, they assume that the same solution will fit for this prospect as well.

The problem arises when the salesperson fails to invest the time to go beyond what may be obvious and explore the prospect’s specific objectives or concerns.

Thinking they “know” this prospect, the salesperson provides them with the benefits of his service that he perceives to be important, without considering the prospect’s particular needs.

The next time you’re speaking with your boss, your family your employees, or if you’re on a sales call, rather than assuming the objection, how the prospect makes a buying decision, what they know or what they want to hear, follow these suggestions to create more selling opportunities.

1. Identify The Knowledge Gap.
That’s the space between what people know and what they don’t know. Instead of assuming what they know, start determining what they need/want to learn in order to fill in this gap and ensure clear communication. What may seem old or common to you is new to them. Use questions up front to uncover what’s needed to fill in the gap. Example: “Just so I don’t sound repetitive, how familiar are you with-?”

2. Be Curious.
Question everything! Since you’re in the business of providing solutions, invest the time to uncover the person’s specific need or problem, as opposed to providing common solutions that you assume may fit for everyone. For example, the words “Frustrated, successful, affordable, reliable and quality,” can be interpreted in a variety of ways and often carry a different meaning for each of us.

When you hear a prospect make a comment like, “I want a quality product that will give me the results I want at an affordable price,” use this as an opportunity to explore deeper into what they want or need most. “What type of results are you looking for?” “What is affordable to you?” Questions allow you to clarify what you have heard or go into a topic in more depth so you can become clear with what they are really saying.

3. Clarify!
Make each prospect feel that they are truly being listened to and understood. Use a clarifier when responding to what you’ve heard during the conversation. Rephrase in your own words what they had said to ensure that you not only heard, but also understood them. Then, confirm the next course of action. Examples: “What I’m hearing you say is…” “Tell me more about that.” “What do you see as the next step?”

4. Just The Facts, Please
“I told a prospect that I’d follow up within a week. Two weeks later, I figured I missed my chance and they went with someone else.” Sound familiar? Effective salespeople don’t guess themselves into a sale. To ensure you’re operating with the facts, ask yourself this, “Do I have evidence to support my assumption or how I’m feeling?” Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from gaining clarity rather than drowning in the stories that you believe are true.

5. Recall Your Learning Curve.
Think back to your first day on the job and the time it took for you to learn a new skill set. Chances are, you’ve probably experienced some frustration during the learning process. After all, at one point, all your knowledge was new to you. The same holds true for the people you come in contact with. Support others by being empathetic throughout their learning curve.

Recognize that learning and wisdom are results of experience. You’re more knowledgeable than you think, so don’t assume that your sense is common. You’ll notice that many communication breakdowns will immediately be eradicated.

Eliminating these costly assumptions will enable you to make better decisions and prevent the breakdowns in communication that act as a barrier to creating desired results, such as more sales. Once this knowledge gap has been closed, you’ll experience fewer problems and recognize greater opportunities that clearly make sense.

Keith Rosen is a prominent, engaging speaker, Master Coach and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people in achieving positive, measurable change in their attitude, in their behavior and in their results. Keith’s articles can be found in Selling Power Magazine and has appeared in feature stories in The New York Times, The Washington Times, Inc. Magazine, Sales and Marketing Management’s Ultimate Motivation Guide with Stephen Covey and The Wall Street Journal. Visit Keith’s website at http://www.profitbuilders.com

About these ads

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,786 other followers

%d bloggers like this: