The Upside of Assuming the Worst
Last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving), my wife and I were invited to a pickle ball/dinner party with friends. We left the house a little after 5 PM for the 10-minute drive. Roughly halfway, on a 30 mph road, a car coming the other way inexplicably crossed the centerline, narrowly missed the guy ahead of us, and continued its path directly at our car. This surreal experience ended with both of us coming to a dead stop facing each other before the other vehicle went around us and drove away.
Our car is equipped with a dashboard camera and we were able to capture the entire incident. The still below shows the car coming at us and the 30-second clip (see link below) has the whole thing.
You: “How are you going to tie this story into a sales blog, Bill?”
Me: There is no way to prepare for a fluke incident like this, but being aware of the possibilities gives you a fighting chance. Similarly, you’ll lose business due to no fault of your own, but if you assume the worst, you might be able to save a client.
My daughter, Emma, and I both ride motorcycles. One day, she said to me, “The best advice you ever gave me was to ride as if everyone on the road is trying to kill me.” You might think this, “Assume the worst” style might make for a less than relaxing ride, but until someone invents the minor motorcycle accident, we will stick with this approach.
Assuming the worst keeps you on your toes as a salesperson, too. It’s okay to feel confident, safe, and secure. However, if you stray into assuming blind client loyalty, automatic reorders, and passive competitors, you are setting yourself up for some bad news.
Sell like your future with each account rides on your handling of their next order.
What I told Emma:
- Assume that car doesn’t see you.
- Assume that car will pull out in front of you.
- Assume you are invisible.
What I will tell you:
- Assume your competition is beating the door down.
- Assume the client is using your response time to gauge how much you value them.
- Assume a better solution is out there before you assume the reorder will come in on its own. Then, go propose it.
Allison and I were fortunate to be at low speed and in a very safe car. At no time did I feel as though we were in imminent danger. Riding a motorcycle has made me a better driver. I bring those same negative assumptions to my car-driving as well. Like sales, you control what you can control and keep your eyes scanning for dangers.
That will keep you alive in business and on the roads.
Here is the 30 second clip of the incident. Oh, and in case you are wondering why there was nothing other than a gasp, I took out our verbal reaction! 😉
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Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.