Assumptions That Cost You Sales

By Lori Turner-Wilson

Good sales professionals are subject matter experts on the products and services they sell. This expertise inevitably creates a few blind spots. When you feel like you’ve seen it all – every prospect response, motivation and objection – it’s easy to occasionally jump to the wrong conclusion. Ensure bad assumptions don’t deter your selling efforts by watching out for the following most common.

Assuming your customers will remember most of what you tell them is not realistic. Research shows they forget 50 percent within an hour of your conversation and 90 percent after a week. To sidestep this reality, be sure to focus your conversation on your prospect. The more they talk about themselves, the more they’ll remember you and the connection you made. Utilize open-ended questions to encourage them to talk about challenges that your products and services can resolve. Help them see the need for what you’re selling on their own so they are more likely to remember that need after you’re gone. Secondly, narrow your message down to a few key points – your prospect’s hot buttons – and refer to them with frequency throughout your conversation.

Assuming every prospect is the right prospect for you is simply setting yourself up for failure. Instead, walk in with a new mindset – one where you aren’t yet sure if this is an ideal customer. You are there to make a mutual determination of fit. If they aren’t an ideal fit, walk away quickly. Your time is too valuable to invest in a low-probability sale.

Be careful not to assume buyer motivation exists just because a need is present. While you may identify a need in the prospect that your service addresses, if the pain isn’t severe, you may be looking at a long sales cycle and much time needlessly invested attempting to shorten it. Quickly uncover the prospect’s desire to immediately remedy their need to avoid spinning your wheels. Don’t hesitate to say, “It sounds like solving this problem isn’t critical for you at this time. I’d like to propose that we meet again in six months, to reassess your situation.”

Don’t assume you fully understand a prospect’s question, as questions are often objections in disguise. Instead, acknowledge to your prospect that the question is clearly an important one, and then ask for more clarification to help you reveal any hidden motivations in asking.

Last but not least, never assume a prospect will call when they’re ready to buy. They may be ready but get caught up in other issues and forget about you entirely. Or another competing sales rep may follow up after you, stealing your sale and benefiting from your legwork.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (