Premortem Thinking


Premortem Thinking

Have you ever heard the phrase postmortem? You may have heard it in a crime show when they are investigating a cause of death. Most would not think of premortem when considering the conversation of business skills. Well, think again.

As most business professionals will tell you the biggest obstacle in the way of someone who wants to close a deal is themselves. They either predetermine an appointment by doing one of the following:

1. Judging a client too soon

2. Intimidation

3. Lack of communication

Sometimes all 3.

Here in cause 1, you can imagine that most people will look at a prospect and judge whether they think a client can financially afford a service based on appearance. You are most times incorrect in doing so. Some of the most influential and successful people do not spend frivolously. Therefore, these people tend to wear clothes that are comfortable and drive cars that might be 2-3 years behind in make and model. 

Just as being underdressed can be confusing so can those who are overdressed. Have you ever seen a person with an LV purse ask for a grant for their kid to attend youth camp? I have. Some keep up with the upper class by spending everything they have or paying off student loans that keep them living paycheck to paycheck.

In cause number 2, we see a huge majority of men are intimated talking to other men who make more money than they do. They feel inferior and less qualified. They fail to acknowledge that wealth does not make you less moral and that all humans have needs. Just because you assume a wealthy person lives their life going "call my guy" that doesn't mean that is the case in every situation. You may just set yourself up to be that guy.

And 3rd, you guessed it, as usual, lack of communication. Have you ever gone to a meeting and said to yourself "I have no idea what this meeting is about" I have seen it plenty of times. You beat around the bush so many times even you get lost. There is no clear messaging and you leave without a call to action, which makes the entire situation a waste of time for you both.

In the Premortem concept, you put yourself before everything goes to smoke. You ask yourself where are all the ways this conversation could go wrong, and then you don't do that. 

So for each of the cases above you will find a clear point where you already know where everything goes wrong. In the 1st you can imagine that it is tone. You start the meeting with a deflated pitch because you assume it is going nowhere. In the 2nd you can see it might be the timbre of your voice. The lack of confidence makes your prospect lack confidence in you. In the 3rd there is no call to action. Without a call to action, how could one commit to anything?

I like to encourage people to role play. You may have a teenager who could also learn some job skills or a wife who will most likely respond with her most honest opinions. Try having fake meetings with real people and see where you lose someone in closing a deal. By pre-determining where something might go wrong, you're less likely to end up in the quicksand in a real meeting. Practice makes perfect.

Regardless if you are a person who has natural talent, like a singer, you don't wake up being Michael Jackson. You walk onto 4 million stages and you keep trying new things. 

If you need a business coach who can assist you in finding the right approach for you, help to make some correction or just problem solve a special case learn more at


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