Your Assumptions May Be Costing You Business…John Page Burton

We live in an “assumption” based society. Let me explain…have you ever found yourself “assuming” someone was “wealthy” or someone else must be “middle class” or someone else appeared to be “economically challenged” only to find out later what you assumed was wrong? We have ALL done it. What did you base your initial assumption on? Was it the car they were driving? The home they lived in? The clothes they were wearing? Maybe you even based your assumption on a 3rd party information source, someone who shared their own assumption with you. In any case, your assumptions may be costing you business. It is easy to get drawn into appearances such as clothes, cars, homes or jewelry and focus on that person as your “gold mine” prospect, when in actuality the person in shorts, tee shirt, flip flops sporting a scruffy chin may be the person who is sitting on a fortune, while your “gold mine” prospect lives on revolving credit. Don’t act surprised when the “bum” you just blew off is a discerning cash buyer.

My recent experience…

I recently made two separate trips to a local furniture store. On the first trip I was dressed in casual business attire, wore an expensive watch and sported a fresh haircut. The sales person who “rushed up” to assist me was extremely friendly, repeatedly commented on my impeccable sense of furniture style and offered to send me home with an array of full color furniture pictures that would enable Diana and I to match colors and find the right style to meet our “exquisite taste” (the salesperson’s perception of my affluence and potential buying power). Two weeks later, Diana and I returned to the same store. As I was parking my American made Jeep Commander (perception of middle class) this exact same sales person exited her older model Japanese vehicle (perception unregistered) and casually acknowledged my friendly hello before she made her way into the store. It was obvious that my gym clothes, unshaven face and baseball cap had not impressed her (her perception of definite middle to lower middle class). Armed with our full color furniture pictures and a couple of swatches, Diana and I headed into the store to re-introduce ourselves. Approximately 10 minutes later( my overall importance rating had clearly dropped 50 points) I was able to flag her down and attempted to re-fresh her memory with regards to our needs and desires. At one point in our conversation she actually stated “there are a couple of things I could show you in another area of the store, but they may be to expensive for you” (I found myself struggling to remember when we had ever discussed my personal finances?). I finally left the store armed with a black and white photo of a dining set that I expressed an interest in and she was thoughtful enough to let us know that if we were willing to wait a couple of weeks we could take advantage of their next big sale (still registering middle to lower middle class). 

The lessonIn today’s virtual business world it is not a good idea to pre-judge potential customers.Some of the most affluent, successful, wealthy people I know, choose to work from home in shorts and t-shirts. They run multimillion dollar companies from the comfort of their modest homes and drive their older model vehicles to pay CASH for their carefully chosen furniture.  The best way to avoid the “assumption trap” is to treat ALL of your prospects and customers with dignity and respect.

To your happiness and success!

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