Over time, we can build assumptions about how things work. How things are supposed to be. Or we cement assumptions about what people think. Or how we expect people to behave.

Oftentimes, we can create an over-reliance on past data and experiences to shape our assumptions about the present and the future.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations will need to ask these critical questions:

Are we relying on pre-pandemic assumptions about buyers to plan ahead? Are we challenging and validating these assumptions? Will the assumptions we have about our buyers prevent recovery and rebound in 2021?

The year 2020 will go down as the most challenging year for businesses in many decades. There are many unanswered questions we face heading into 2021. Yet, without answers, many organizations will revert back to assumptions that have always been held.

In the case of buyers, we can consciously and unconsciously be using long-held assumptions for planning ahead. Not realizing, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, it is best to challenge pre-pandemic assumptions.

Built Into Company DNA

Business leaders will need to take care that long-held assumptions do not get baked into their organization’s DNA thinking. Where substantial investments in product development and go-to-market strategies can be wasted.

For example, a software developer in the supply chain space we worked with had long-held assumptions about two core capabilities of their product. After a revision, an ambitious marketing and sales plan was put into place to upgrade existing customers. And to improve sales to new buyers. What we discovered in our buyer insights research was buyer goals had shifted due to market and regulatory changes. Causing buyers to no longer value one of the core capabilities as they did before. This opened the door for competitors to make inroads. A case of being caught off guard by an assumption that was no longer true.

Validating Buyer Assumptions

With the pandemic still raging across the country, this is a good time to review assumptions about buyers. Undoubtedly, 2021 will be a year that will continue to alter how buyers think, behave, value, and make decisions.

How should business leaders take steps to validate assumptions about buyers? Here are 5 suggested steps to take:

Question Assumptions About Buyers

Engage in active internal listening and critical thinking. The more you listen, the more it will become evident what are actually assumptions versus facts. Ask marketing and sales colleagues to clarify assumption sounding statements.

Collect Key Assumptions To Validate

Make an intentional effort to filter out assumptions that are finding their way into planning. Collect assumptions about buyers in need of validation. Especially those tied to substantial investment decisions related to product development and GTM strategies.

Conduct Buyer Research

There are plenty of reasons to conduct buyer research. Incorporating assumptions, about buyers, to be validated is certainly one of those.

Synthesize Into Clear Buyer Insights

This important step involves clearly articulating what assumptions are true and those that are no longer true. And making connections to new buyer insights that were not-so-obvious before.

Apply Strategic Thinking

The point of validating assumptions is to be able to apply strategic thinking to investments and GTM strategies. Thinking through how what you have learned impacts overall buyer strategies.

No Longer Be True

As we head into 2021, long-held assumptions we make about buyers may no longer be true. Particularly when we consider buyer goals and preferences. Some pre-pandemic assumptions may still be true. Many, however, are bound to have been severely impacted.

Heading into 2021 blind about buyer assumptions can and will severely hamper recovery and a post-pandemic rebound.