We’ve all heard how when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. In sales, we’re taught to never assume anything, to always ask open-ended questions to understand the customer’s real issues. This advice is usually great, except for one key exception, which Jill Konrath highlights. (Go watch her video now, it’s only 90 seconds.)

If I may paraphrase Jill Konrath, I think of this as “assume that you can help– if so, what symptoms might you expect to see? And what benefit would the customer get from fixing the underlying issues?” You might be wrong, and the prospect is not someone you can help. In this case, you get a quick “no”, which is nice for everyone. If you can help, you look like someone who knows that they’re doing and can actually fix things, instead of someone who just came out of sales training with a script but no real knowledge of customers.

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