Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beware of the Assumptive Argument

Assumptions. Sometimes they work in our favor and sometimes they don’t. We’ve probably all made some silly mistakes or maybe some fairly huge blunders because we assumed too much and didn’t check things well enough before proceeding.

A well-known closing technique is the assumptive one where you assume the customer is going ahead with the purchase and you begin writing the purchase agreement – figuring as long as they don’t object or stop you that the sale is made. This also is known as “assuming the sale.”

That is a positive application of the assumptive technique.

Let’s talk about a less positive assumptive approach – the assumptive argument.

This is where someone – a friend, a customer, a family member, a colleague, a reporter, an economist, or anyone trying to be persuasive or make a point – states an opinion, advances a piece of conventional wisdom, or recounts something that has been reported as being the truth when in fact there is a difference of opinion on whether that’s the case. It may be totally without foundation but advanced as a foundation for an argument anyway.

When someone walks into your sales center and begins the conversation with “everyone knows that builders are in trouble,” the tendency is to let that premise stand and not challenge it. This puts you in a defensive position from the beginning.

Similar arguments might include phrases like “the economy is bad,” “the subprime mess,” “the housing crisis,” “the credit crunch,” “people can’t sell their existing homes,” or “the current recession.” These largely are inventions of the media – created to attract attention.

Is the economy really bad? I guess it depends on who you ask. Are we in a recession? The economic indicators say no. Can people sell their present homes? Yes, if they really want to. Are all builders in trouble? Duh. Is financing harder to get? In many cases, but it’s still available.

The point is this: people tend to start off an argument with a statement that will help their case – even if it’s not true or it doesn’t apply to you or your situation. Therefore, stop the argument before it gains any traction.

If you let the assumptive argument persist, you basically have agreed that it’s true and your customer can rely on that as the basis for a non-decision or for what they want to negotiate.

Let’s create an assumptive argument of our own: people wouldn’t be visiting our sales center if they weren’t interested in buying a home.

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