The Agony of the Default Trap

default: a selection made usually automatically or without active consideration.  

I think we all have a love/hate relationship with the default settings within our computers.  In theory, these settings are designed to make our lives easier, and to help us do our jobs faster.  Unfortunately, these supposed timesavers can also invite trouble.  I once meant to text a client, “I’m a bit behind” and my buddy, the default feature, texted this: “I’m a big behind.”  I didn’t catch it, but my client sure did!  I still hear about it…

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate some areas where I can use the assistance of a default feature, but I’m beginning to waver a bit now. The more aspects of what we do that are supposedly aided by defaults mechanisms, the more nervous I become particularly because I don’t think certain defaults are limited to computer technology.  I think we tend to fall into a default trap on how we communicate with others.  Let me provide you with a half-dozen approaches to selling that are affected negatively by what I call, “Default Thinking.”

Not Listening To Those We speak With  – No one consciously enters into a conversation with another person with the intention of not listening. However, typically by default, we spend way too much time focusing on what we want to say next, and not paying attention to what the person in front of us is actually saying.

Not Asking Open Probes – Most of us have learned, somewhere along the way, that asking questions is critical, and the more we allow others to speak, the more they trust the person they are speaking with.  Yet we find that the few questions we do ask, typically by default, are often closed questions. Those closed questions create an environment that feels more like an interrogation than a conversation.

Not Taking The Time To Study A Problem – One of the greatest gifts a person can give you is through the disclosure of a problem he or she is grappling with. However, typically by default, we show little to no interest in displaying empathy. Instead of showing our interest by asking more questions about the problem, we rush in to offer solutions to a problem we don’t really understand, and our customer doesn’t think needs to be fixed.

Not Providing True Benefits – There comes a time in every conversation to display your product knowledge and provide solutions.  However, typically by default, we provide reasons why others like a certain solution, or why we like a certain solution. What we should be doing is using the customer’s own words, and tying our recommendation to the specific needs of that customer.

Not Closing Too Fast – Asking someone for a commitment is on everyone’s mind, and earning the right to do just that makes closing a lot easier.  However, typically by default, we look for any reason or signal imaginable to jump past all we’ve learned about selling. We awkwardly ask for a commitment we haven’t earned, and by doing so, we dramatically decrease our chances of success.

Not Focusing On How We Say What We Say – We all want to create a sense of trust with those we work with, and that means we have to come across as authentically as we possibly can.  However, typically by default, we dedicate all our time and training to what we say, and not how we say it.

It should be noted, I’m on a strict word count in the BLArticles® I write: I could easily list 20 more mistakes impacted by Default Thinking.  We don’t wake up with a plan or goal to fail; we want to do our best.  But when we let our guard down, we allow our actions to “become automatic or without active consideration.” In other words, we run the risk of making mistakes due to default thinking.  We need to be aware of this tendency, and stay focused and vigilant of the risk of this type of thinking, or we run the risk of making mistakes with a far greater impact than telling someone you have a “big behind.”

Related: The Danger Is at the End, Not the Beginning