Monday, July 25, 2016

“Beware of the Assumptive Argument - Facts Not In Evidence”

In making sales, a well-known closing technique is the assumptive one where we assume - based on what has transpired up to that point - the customer is going ahead with the purchase and we begin writing the order.

This is not just wishful thinking. It is based on the discussion to that point (on this visit or combined with previous conversations), the interest level shown in going ahead with what has been discussed, the narrowing of the choices to just one reasonable solution for them, and the feeling that they like us as well or better than anyone else they may have considered or talked to about helping them. 

Then, we figure that as long as they don’t object to our going ahead and putting the agreement on paper or try to stop us that the sale is made. This method is known as “assuming the sale” or the "assumptive close." This can be a positive application of the assumptive technique.

However, there's a not-so-positive application of the assumptive approach that interferes with being able to suggest solutions and make a sale – the assumptive argument.

This is where someone states an opinion, advances a piece of conventional wisdom, or recounts something that has been written about or reported as being the truth when in fact there may be no actual foundation that it is true. It is just talked about and held to be true by many people even though it may have no basis at all.

This could come from a well-meaning friend, a family member, a neighbor, an agency representative, someone from the general public, a supposed expert, a radio or TV commentator, a published report or blog, or many other sources where someone is trying to be persuasive or make a point.

When we begin a conversation with someone in their home, in our office, at an event such as a home show, or over the phone, and they start the conversation with a declarative statement that “everyone knows ... (fill in the rest),” the tendency is to let that premise stand and not challenge it. This puts us in an awkward defensive position from the beginning or working with a statement that we allow to let stand as if it true when it isn't.

It might have to do with the cost of materials, the amount of markup, the time it takes to complete the work, the general condition of their home during the process, the way that crews conduct themselves during the time they are in the customer's home, the quality of work done by some remodelers that give the rest of us a black mark, the effectiveness of making modifications, or something similar.

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 us or our situation. Therefore, stop the argument before it gains any traction. Don't allow it to persist, and don't tacitly agree to it by ignoring it as if we are agreeing with their position. It's a little like the objection that we see lawyers raise in TV courtroom drama - they are introducing facts not in evidence so want the statement stricken.


If we allow the assumptive argument or statement to stand without a challenge, we basically have agreed that it’s true and give our customer permission to rely on that as the basis for a non-decision or for what they want to negotiate with us for a reduction in fee or getting extra services included.


Let’s create an assumptive argument of our own: people wouldn’t be talking with us or inviting us into their homes if they weren’t interested in having something done to improve their home and the quality of their life in their home.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.