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Ackert Blog

How to Escape the Assumption Trap

Remember that pitch you gave a couple of years back, where the client was interested in working with you but ended up going in another direction? A shame that they didn’t engage you, but no further action is required on your part. After all, it’s only a matter of time before they have another need to outsource, and they certainly know where to find you, right?

Perhaps. But like any assumption, it’s entirely speculative. It also includes many other potentially erroneous hypotheses:

  • “Given our previous interactions, I’ll be first on their list of providers."
  • “Their business challenges and decision-makers have not radically changed in two years."
  • “The reasons that deterred them from working with me in the past will not keep us from working together in the future."
  • “They would not welcome a check-in from me after all this time has passed."


These assumptions are popular among would-be business developers, but they are the nemesis of our success. They keep us safe in a bubble of fiction, so we don’t have to take the steps necessary to learn the truth. To learn the truth, we would have to carve time out of our busy schedules, get back into communication, and discover how our prospects' needs are evolving on a regular basis. We would have to become more curious about them. And we would have to relinquish the speculations that trap us in stagnation.

Not an easy endeavor, but certainly achievable. As a first step, try setting aside ten minutes to reconnect with the prospects and referral sources you have not spoken to in a while. Get out of your head and back into communication. And never forget that knowing what you do and where to find you is no guarantee that they will call you when the need arises.

Authored by David Ackert

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