It was triggered by a call I received from a sales rep on something I had inquired about.
Immediately after introducing himself and company, and saying he was following up on my web request for more information, he started with this:
"Well, I know what you're thinking about this service. If you're like most small business owners, you are thinking that ... "
I let him go on for about 90 seconds.
Then I said, "Actually -- I don't think that at all. It probably would have been a better idea to ask me why I inquired, don't you think?"
It was a short call.
I've kept track of many of these situations I have either heard about or run into myself over the past few months.
During the NFL playoffs, one of the commentators during a game said:
“Here's what the quarterback was thinking when he threw that ball ... ”
During the presidential campaign I heard another commentator definitively say about a candidate:
“What he thinks is ... ”
I overhead two women in casual conversation talking about a third mutual friend -- in not very flattering tones -- and one said:
“I know exactly what she is thinking ... She thinks ... ”
Personally, I'm amazed there are so many mind readers amongst us. People with telepathic powers that know the thoughts of others.
The problem for salespeople is that if we believe we already know what someone is thinking, that causes false assumptions. This in turn inhibits further discovery and prompts premature presentations, resulting in a recommendation that is off target. Just like the guy who called me.
Sure, we have to make decisions based on research, observation, and intuition regarding what we think someone is thinking, but we can ultimately never know until their answer or action proves it.