How to avoid presumption and get selected!
Three engineers had recently finished a long stint on an oil rig. It had been tough, hard work but the pay and their comrades made it worthwhile. They came ashore with pockets full of cash and conversation full of banter.
During the dark days on the rig, these three friends had made a pact to purchase a ‘light’ reward for their months at sea. They had agreed to spend some of their hard-earned cash on high-spec convertible sports cars that would blow away the drudgery of the last few months and remind them what life is all about.
Straight off the rig, unshaven and in scruffy clothes, they headed to the car showroom.
Their rough chins and casual clothes were in sharp contrast to the smooth floors and tight suits of the salesman as they began to look around, joking with one another, exploring the showroom’s latest offerings.
On hearing their banter and seeing their clothes, the head salesman at the showroom presumed these men were here for nothing but a joyride and made short shrift of telling them their business was not wanted here. “Be off with you”, he said.
No more than an hour later, the three gentlemen returned to the showroom courtyard, this time driving full-spec, brand new sports cars bought, in cash, from the competitor down the road.
Presumption is the death of sales.
It’s just like the shopping moment in Pretty Woman, isn’t it? And countless others, no doubt. But it came home to me the other day that presumption exists not only in movies and anecdotes, but in our own business networks.
And here, it’s not so much our actions but the language we use that ‘deselects’ us from sales.
Here’s another story that will show you presumption really is the fastest way to kill a sale:
I received a call recently from a salesperson who told me, when he found out I was ‘just’ an employee director and not a shareholder, that ‘people like me’ don’t have the same buy-in to the company we work for.
His words were thick with presumption, judgement and ignorance. Had he chosen his words differently, there’s every chance he would have learnt much about my position, role, influence and connections, and how he could use them (me) to his benefit.
As it was, he ‘deselected’ himself from any potential alliance because…well, he was rude.
Has this happened to you? Or have you done this when approaching or seeking potential business?
I think it’s very easy to be ‘in conclusion’ and to limit our potential when speaking with people. But it’s just as easy to be open to opportunities.
Here are some conversational and networking rules that allow us to avoid presumption and get selected:
Statements are hugely limiting. Questions invite possibility.
An acquaintance was told by a man selling beauty products that she’d want to settle down soon and have kids. She was riled because the statement was conclusive and irrelevant to the sale. He deselected himself because he was presumptive rather than questioning.
Just like my cold caller, if he had avoided stating what he presumed to be true, the door to possibility might still be open.
Forget everything you know
You may think you’ve met ‘this sort’ before, but let that knowledge influence your actions after you’ve had an open conversation with them.
In other words: be curious about each person you meet. If the conversation supports what you already know, you can act according to your previous experience. But don’t limit the value of a conversation by dismissing someone out of hand.
Recognise the value in everyone you meet
They may not be your golden ticket but they might be connected to your golden ticket. I believe there’s opportunity in every acquaintance. It might not be a sale or an introduction, but don’t deselect yourself based on presumption. Take the time to get to know new acquaintances and learn how you can help them.
You might enjoy my article “6 Spectacular Ways to Move onto Their Turf Using Social Media“. It’s full of hints and tips that will help you harness social media to further your networking relationships.
How do you invite information and nurture conversations when networking? What do you do to ensure you’re not ‘deselected’?