How to Improve Sales By Forgetting What You Know

Forget What You Know

Would you be surprised to learn that there’s an advantage new salespeople have over those of us who’ve been doing this for awhile?…and it all has to do with what we think we already know.

On today’s show discover:

  • …when making assumptions in sales can hurt you;
  • … how to stop yourself from jumping to conclusions;
  • …and how putting assumptions away can work to improve your sales.

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Advantage or Disadvantage

One challenge veteran salespeople have is also something many feel is an advantage and that is this belief that “you already know what your customer wants, because you’ve  heard it all before.” On the surface it may seem like an advantage but this sort of thinking leads to missed opportunities and lower sales.
If this sounds like you, it’s not your fault. Jumping to conclusions is something we’re wired to do.

In fact, it’s an important part of our evolution and survival. Being able to quickly learn and associate certain things with danger helped our ancestors stay alive. It’s also possible to get so convinced that your assumption is right it’s hard to even consider other possibilities.

I hear assumptions made on the sales floor all the time. “She won’t buy it, it’s too much money for her.”, “he won’t like that color it’s not manly enough”, No one from “New State-ia” has any money”, “I know what she wants, they all call for the same thing.” Clearly, these are dangerous traps. Traps that top salespeople simply don’t fall into.

So how do you avoid making dangerous assumptions during your sales?

First – Ask about Everything

The very best way to avoid making assumptions is to ask your customer instead and work hard to separate assumptions you’ve made from the facts you’ve been given.

For example, If a customer is calling on a particular number that was only given out during a radio ad you might assume she heard about your product on the radio. However, you recognize that this is an assumption on your part so you ask. “Did you hear about the product on the radio?” “No, actually my friend took down the number and said I should call.”

This is great information to know! Now you can tailor your approach and provide the additional information this customer missed from the radio show. You just increased your chances of making the sale!

Ask for Clarification

Many times customers will give you surface information and based that you jump to a conclusion, missing really important details.

For example a customer who is interested in a product that helps with sleep might say “I’m really interested and I think my wife could benefit from this too.” Now, you might assume his wife has trouble sleeping and could use the product as well. However, you recognize that you’re jumping to a conclusion so you ask for clarification.

“So, your wife also has trouble sleeping and might benefit from taking the “Sleepy Time” product?” “Oh, no she doesn’t need to take it but I know I keep her up at night with my tossing and turning. She’ll be glad when I can get a good night’s sleep, so she can too.”

Be inquisitive

One of the very best ways to avoid making assumptions is to be inquisitive and curious about what you’re customer is telling you. One of the best phrases you can keep in your tool box is “tell me more…”. When you say something like “tell me more about why getting a good night’s sleep is so important to you…”  you’ll get more information and a better understanding of your customer’s needs and wants. You’ll be surprised how many more opportunities you’ll discover by using the phrase “tell me more….”

Finally Be Reflective

It can be a very powerful thing to review your customer interactions after the fact and think about the assumptions you made. What opinions did you act on that didn’t work out? What conclusions did you come to that weren’t based on fact?

Every time you review and identify the assumptions you made, will make you that much better at avoiding those same mistakes in the future. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back once in awhile too! Relive those successful sales and identify when you were inquisitive and asked for clarification.


Top Salespeople don’t assume they know everything about their customer because they know each one has complex and unique needs, wants and challenges to overcome. Forget what you think you know and gather the facts; it’s a better experience for you and your customer.

Today’s One Two Punch:

Gather the Facts to Sell More (like the top salesperson you are)

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