Five ways to clear away false assumptions that could kill a deal
  • sales
  • Blog post

Five ways to clear away false assumptions that could kill a deal

Do faulty assumptions sabotage the results you want during a sales conversation? Often such assumptions are based not on fact, but on what you as salesperson believe to be true.

An easy way to trip over yourself is presenting solutions based on facts or problems you faced with a prior customer. Because the prospect in front of you seems to be in the same situation, it’s easy to assume that you the same solution will work for this prospect, too.

Don’t skip deep discovery
When that happens, you’re more likely to skip the deep discovery and analysis that you’d bring to a less-familiar problem. As a result, you learn far less about your prospect.

And even if your solution does end up being the right one, the prospect isn’t convinced because you haven’t explored his specific issues and objectives.

Here are five ways to avoid the deal-killing Assumption Trap and generate more sales:

1. Explore the prospect’s knowledge gap. Rather than assume what prospects know, find out what they need to learn. What feels “old hat” to you may be news to them. Ask questions to make sure. Example: “How familiar are you with ____” or “Have you heard about____?”

2. Dig deeper. Probe to uncover the buyer’s specific problem. Resist the temptation to jump to a solution.

Specifically, be sure you understand what the buyer is telling you. Words like “successful,” “affordable,” and “quality,” often mean something completely different to different buyers.

For example, if a prospect says, “I want a quality product that will give me the results I want at an affordable price,” you need to clarify at least three things: How does she define “quality,” “affordable” and “results”?

3. Confirm your understanding. Prospects to want to feel like they are being listened to and understood. One technique that works is to rephrase what you have heard them say, in your own words. That way you can be sure that you not only heard what they said but also understood it. Example: “Let me make sure I have this right…what you’re saying is….” Follow up with, “Can you elaborate on that….?” Finally, confirm what will happen next, with something like, “What do you see as the next step?”

4. Stick to the facts in evidence. Have you ever assumed a deal was in the bag? Spent a commission before the check cleared the bank? Make sure you focus on facts, not assumptions. Ask yourself, “What evidence supports this assumption or what I’m feeling at the moment?” True peace of mind comes from knowing what is real, not believing tales you tell yourself to feel good.

5. Remember the learning curve. Recall your first few days at a previous job and how much time it took for you to get up to speed. It was probably frustrating, yes?

That holds true for prospects. Few are experts on what you sell, so it is important to be supportive throughout their passage through the learning curve. You’re more knowledgeable than you think; don’t assume that others are on the same page.

No more breakdowns
Drop that assumption and you’ll see many communication breakdowns fall away. Those breakdowns are the real barrier to achieving the results you seek.

Source: Based on a blog posting by Keith Rosen. To learn more visit

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