Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Never Assume Anything

You've targeted a group of successful business owners for your sales pitch. You've sent them all the brochures, literature, emails or links promoting your products or services, and you've dangled various benefits and inducements to get them to read all that stuff.

And now you're getting ready to close the deal. But wait! What are the chances they have actually read the material you sent them? The chances are slim.

Business owners are busy people. They have very little spare time – and what time they carve out is rarely spent on their unread ads and solicitations pile. Even if they initially asked you for information, the likelihood that they actually read any of that bumph is very low.

I learned this the hard way. A few years ago I was asked to speak to a “mastermind” group of entrepreneurs in Toronto. These business owners got together once a month to trade war stories and best practices, and occasionally hear guest speakers. They invited me to speak on a certain topic, and I willingly agreed. And when my contact asked for a one-page summary of what I was going to talk about, so the attendees could properly prepare themselves, I willingly passed that along.

On the day of my talk, once all the small talk was done, I launched right into my presentation. Since the dozen entrepreneurs around the table had already received my summary, I skipped my usual introductory remarks and went straight to the heart of the issue.

At which point my audience started squirming. I sensed this unrest, but didn't know what it meant. Until one alpha male interrupted me to say, “So who are you and what are you here to talk about?” I apologized, explained myself briefly, and pointed out that I had provided the appropriate contextual materials in advance. The entrepreneurs looked at each other and smiled wanly. “Never come in here and assume we've read our briefing materials,” said Entrepreneur Alpha. “We’re too busy for that.”

And he was right. I should have realized that not everyone had read my summary.

Meanwhile, alpha male, to prove his point, asked his colleagues around the table, “How many of you read his summary?” Only one person put up his hand – the contact who had asked for my summary and forwarded it to his colleagues. Not wanting to be seen as weak, however, he defended himself by saying, “But I only skimmed it.”

It was an embarrassing lesson for me to learn. Never assume any business owners have read your material, even if it’s in their best interests or they themselves asked for it.

Business owners march to their own drumbeat, and if you want to be accepted by that group, you have to get in line and join the march. And never assume anything.

6 comments:

littleChild said...

Well, I think I've learned a lesson like you've learned on that meeting. At least, now we know that they don't really read all materials we've shared to them.
business opportunities

Paul Simister, Your Profit Coach said...

Yep that sounds horribly familiar to me too although it is something which irritates me.
It seems disrespectful to the people who have prepared to go over old ground since you're wasting their time.

move4less said...
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Muddassar Shah said...
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Alex said...
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cool said...
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