Strong title I know but we've all heard the old axiom before, "Don't assume, it makes an ass out of you and me." (Assume = Ass + u + me)

Having said that, why are you still assuming in your sales process? No, I'm not referring to another old axiom that says, "Always assume the same." That's a another thing altogether, what I'm referring to is the fact that a lot of automotive salespeople feel that they know what the customer wants, more than the customer themselves.

Assumptions happen for a variety of reasons:

  • The way our customers dress.
  • The car they drive on the lot.
  • The words they use.
  • Our own inability to listen to what their saying.
  • By asking the wrong questions.
  • And yes, even the color of their skin.

There are more reasons of course, but in order to illustrate this I'd like to tell you a story that was told to me by David Johnson of PersuasiveConcepts. David was a new automotive salesperson, in the business for less than four months, when an elderly gentleman rode onto the lot on a bicycle. The guy wasn't well dressed and looked as if he hadn't shaved in 2 months. He asked David, "Is this the KIA dealership?" David said no and preceded to tell him that the KIA dealership was just next store. The gentleman said thank you and began to peddle his bike when another salesperson stepped in and asked what he was looking for. As it turned out the guy had 80 one hundred dollar bills in his pocket and was ready to buy, which he did, from the other salesperson.

What did David do wrong? He assumed that this guy couldn't buy just by taking in the clothes we was wearing, the bike he was riding and his scruffiness. This happens more than you think, and usually about the time a new automotive salesperson thinks they know it all, they begin to compare their time spent with potential buyers vs. time spent by the veterans. They begin to cut corners, spend less time with customers and start assuming. Then they are left scratching their heads wondering why the first three months they averaged 15 cars sold, but now they can't even sell double digits!

How Do We Stop Assuming?

By looking inward. By thinking in the same terms as our customers think. To difficult? Not really, you've bought cars before right? You've bought other things from salespeople haven't you? Of course you have!

“We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” -Steven R. Covey

The above quote says it all; because we assume we see things as the way they really are our attitudes and behaviors are clouded by those assumptions. So, in order to stop assuming, we just need to work on the inverse, which is to learn that our assumptions are just opinions of the way things are and as such, everybody has one. Just as in the post Building Value Through Question Based Selling, you need to learn to ask the right questions so that you can see things clearly through the eyes of your customer, in reality their assumptions are the only ones that matter. Sell to what they want, don't assume that you know everything about them, ask the right questions, sell to what THEY want and you will go a long way to NOT making an ass out of yourself.

What are some stories you can think of where you or somebody you know assumed wrong?