We second guess people all the time.
Right now, I’m second-guessing that you understand my second sentence.
We don’t wait for people to finish their sentences. Then, we interrupt.
Even worse, we rehearse our next point while they speak.
We wait for our turn. We are anxious to make our next point. That one point which we find so awesome.
In the process, we assume a lot.
Somehow, this social behavior creeps into our relationships with potential customers.
We tend to have a lot of sales prospecting assumptions.
Take for example cold calling where you chat with people you rarely meet face to face. All you’re left with are virtual cues. The tone of voice. Vocal pauses.
Same with cold emailing.
All you’re left with are punctuations, grammar. Capitalization of words. Etc.
And most of the time, we fall into the trap of assuming what the prospect is saying. Or is not saying.
Never assume anything
I called one cold prospect over five times. I left him voicemails on all those occasions.
Sometimes, after that number of follow-ups with no response, we get nervous. Or we give up.
You even begin to feel like a creep, stalking the prospect all the time.
That’s the point where our brains are subject most to the making of assumptions.
Why is the prospect not responding?
Is she not interested?
Is it a bad timing?
Has she left the company?
Is the prospect thinking I’m stalking them?
Am I becoming a creep?
Should I keep calling them?
How about one last email?
Dealing with such a situation may be tough. It’s the sales prospecting assumption trap.
There are three ways you can deal with that situation.
1) Follow up until you get a ‘No’
Going for “No” is one of the best outcomes of sales prospecting.
Remember the prospect who got five voicemails from me? Well, he called me back after a couple of weeks.
He apologized for not getting back. “I’ve been busy,” he said. “But I’m interested in speaking with you and our business development manager.”
Long story short. We signed a contract.
The biggest lesson was never assume anything.
In prospecting, we’re too quick to get into our own heads and assume that we know what the prospects are thinking. And what they need, but we don’t.
So better to get a clear No than to wallow in false assumptions.
2) Create a Discussion Document
Another way we can avoid the sales prospecting assumption trap is to create a discussion document.
My friend Joe does this so well. He learned it from his previous company.
The Discussion Document is a note or file in which you summarize every knowledge you have about the prospect and their business.
Their challenges and how the solution you’re offering can address their challenges. It could be a bullet point or a paragraph.
Either way, you need to have something written down. Then in the next call or meeting, share that with the prospect.
The idea is to go over it together with the prospect to ensure you’re all on the same page.
You can ask: “Is this an accurate summary of what’s going on in your business and how we can fit together?”
3) Reiterate both stands
Now that both of you are on the same page, you got to make sure you align your goals with the prospects.
In a value-driven way.
Some of the best deals we’ve had come from the clients that we knew for a fact what they were thinking.
You’ve got to let them articulate their needs.
This is a powerful way make sure that both parties have the same expectations of would happen.
We’ve got to be persistent and true professionals.
Prospects appreciate persistence. You don’t know what’s going on with other people.
The only way you’ll know is by allowing them to tell you.