The Curse of Knowledge is, indeed, a curse for presales and sales folks – and the seasoned veterans are at highest risk. It comes in (at least) two flavors:
1. When doing Discovery – “I already know your problems and situation – so I don’t need to ask you…”
2. When anticipating questions – “Everyone always asks that – so I’ll pre-answer it before you ask…”
When doing Discovery, seasoned veterans know their customers better than those customers know themselves. Customer problems and situations have been heard countless times before – so why bother to ask questions? We already know their situation and we already know what solution is best for them, right? The problem here is that customers believe their situations are unique – and aren’t comfortable to accept a proposed solution from a vendor who hasn’t asked enough questions of them.
Guidance? A smart man knows the answers; a wise man knows what questions to ask…
When anticipating questions from customers, let them ask their questions (even – and especially – if you’ve heard that same question 100 times). Pre-answering questions takes away the possibility of a conversation with the customer. Further, there are always people who feel obligated to ask something, and if you’ve pre-answered the typical questions, you may force them to pose a question that is way out in the periphery…
Guidance? Have your answers prepared and ready to go – but keep those answers (metaphorically) behind your back… When the customer asks the question, you are prepared. You (metaphorically) take the answer from behind your back and respond to the question. Your demo is going perfectly when the customer is asking the questions you hope and expect them to ask at that point!