The "Deadly Assumption" means assuming that the prospect should buy what we're selling. Why is this deadly? Because it usually means we have leapt from "based on what I know, if I was him I would buy" to "therefore, he should buy." There are two problems here:
- "What I know" rarely includes what the prospect knows
- I am not him, so my conclusions are not his
We do this unconsciously. Without intending to, we anoint ourselves as a focus group of one. By definition, we don't represent the buyer's view; we represent only our own. Even if we were the immediate predecessor to this person, at this company, in that job, under the same management, a month ago, we still wouldn't be able reliably to represent his views. Whenever a position of responsibility turns over, there is change. Sometimes, companies use the turnover as an opportunity to pursue a path that we didn't agree with or support when we were the incumbent, and that now has an unobstructed path with our replacement. Often, the replacement wants to put his stamp on the role, and arrives with different thinking influenced by his career experiences and background.
The point is that, no matter how recent our perspective, we'd still be representing our recollection of the views we held when we occupied his office, except that now it would also carry the weight of the aspirations and expectations that attend our new job selling to him.
The Deadly Assumption leads us to conclude that we're right, i.e., that he should buy. In turn, that causes us to begin presenting our service/solution, trying to get him to agree that we're right and that he should buy. This makes it almost impossible for us to explore what the prospect would welcome discussing with us. This is why legal service buyers hate pitch meetings and consider them a complete waste of time. (Click here for a taste of buyers' unvarnished comments about pitch meetings.)
Instead, investigate with an open mind to learn whether or not the prospect's circumstances, challenges have sufficient impact to require him to buy any solution, much less our own. If there's insufficient need to take action at all, there's zero chance of getting him even to make a decision, much less to take a specific action such as hiring you.
Don't sell TO that prospect; sell WITH him. You'll find that his help will make all the difference in the world in your rate of success.
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