I remember reading somewhere about a company that had set up different office, each with a different motif. One would be full of things relating to fishing, another would be all decked up with pictures of golf courses and golf related chachkas. The goal was to stump the sales people who would come through, often it played out to be stump the chump. They wanted to see how many sales people would fall into the trap of trying to create rapport by making small talk, no let’s be honest and call it what it is, empty talk, by trying to relate to and talk to the motif in the room. You’ve seen it, the sales rep trying to chummy up to the buyer buy talking about his fishing adventures or golf outings.
What the sales people didn’t realize is that none of the pictures include the person they were meeting with, there were no names on the door, these were their “sales social experiment”, and not social in today’s context. If and when a sales rep bit, the company had a bit of a chuckle, and the rep’s stature went down a notch.
While we can talk about the merits of this little experiment, it does highlight how easily some sales people assume things through their filters, and run with those assumptions till they hit a wall or fall off a cliff, and it’s too late to recover. If you think something is so, even something as obvious as a person liking golf because of the pictures on the office wall, why not ask a question instead of making a statement. Put in the form of a question you give the prospect a chance to correct you, without putting yourself in a corner. What’s more, in the process of correcting you, they often share additional and valuable information or nuance that can prove to be valuable in moving the sale forward.
Even when things seem obvious, they are often not. I’ll give a personal experience, on a regular basis I receive calls from strangers, who start by telling me how great they get along with someone I did a webinar with, or was on a panel with, making the assumption (and hoping) that because our names share a billboard it will warm their way into my heart. The reality is that this just heightens my suspicions about their intents, given that other than that one event we have little in common; in fact at times, I am there as a counter to the other panelist’s view. Yet if they would not lean on this false assumption who knows what they may be able to achieve? Just because my name is Tibor does not mean I like goulash, I’ll take a hot vindaloo any day.
While it may take a bit of effort, it would be so much more profitable to validated things before betting the farm, or in this case the outcome of the sales call or the whole sale.
Yes, even when you think you know something, test it, because often you will find that you really didn’t know until it is much too late or costly.