Everyone makes them.  Sometimes they are right on the money and sometimes so far off it’s embarrassing.  When it comes to our professional life, there are times that we will need to make them, for if we don’t we can get stuck in limbo and nothing gets accomplished.  But we need to remember that assumptions, while a necessary part of life, must be treated with caution as they have the power to build or destroy.

We can cite many examples of companies that made the wrong assumption and paid dearly for it:

  • New Coke (1985)
  • McDonald’s Arch Deluxe (1996)
  • Lawn Darts (1980s)
  • The Yugo (1986)
  • Bank of America Debit Card Fee (2011)

What is the common theme with the above examples?  All companies made false assumptions on what their customers wanted.  Yes they may have done their homework, but ultimately the product failed. The bottom-line is that the companies did not really “listen” to their customers. They thought they did as they conducted their market research, but somewhere there was a disconnect.

The lesson learned is to consistently ask for feedback from your clients, customers, referral partners, and vendors.  Never assume that because you are hearing nothing negative that all is well – no news is not necessarily good news. Encourage and solicit the truth.  Ask for feedback when the sale is complete.  Check in periodically afterwards.  Be proactive about it and create a plan to ensure it happens.  In the age of social media, being on the offensive is much easier to maintain than being on the defensive.

Keep it perpetual.

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