Under Promise and Over Deliver

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There are things you, your company and your product can do and things that cannot be done. Knowing the difference takes solid training, a strong business acumen, and experience. Telling a customer that you can do everything takes nothing more than your vocal chords while telling a customer that you cannot do something they want, takes courage.

Anyone in sales will tell you that it is a tough business and the temptation to "overpromise" is always present. But doing so puts you in a potentially very bad situation and forces you to either let your customer down or to do more than what is possible.

Set Yourself Up for Failure

Overpromising is a wonderful way to set yourself up for failure. It is also a great way to put your company and customer support teams in a no-win situation. When you over-promise, you are essentially telling your customer that you can do something that you either know you can't or don't feel confident that you can fulfill your promise.

Why do sales professionals over-promise? Usually, it is to close a sale but sometimes they over-promise out of fear or ignorance. It is amazing how quickly common sense goes out the window when some sales reps are forced with either telling the truth or deliver a promise that they won't be able to deliver!

When you over-promise, the damage you do is mostly to your career and your reputation. While your customer may suffer some loss due to your decision, it is yourself that you have set up for failure. Not only will you set yourself up for some seriously challenging conversations with your professional network when and if they learn about how you treat your customers, but your company may also be less than enamored with the position you've forced them into.

Set Your Company Up for Failure

Often, when you over-promise, it is your company that is placed in a bad situation. Either they need to find a way to deliver on what you promised your customer or risk damaging their reputation. If there is one thing that businesses can count on is that an angry customer will tell others about their bad experience.

If a sales professional continues to make promises that either they or their company cannot deliver, the company will probably be forced to make some staffing changes before any further damage is done to their reputation.

The Glory of Under Promising

To serve as an example, imagine that you are a Financial Adviser, who, after conducting days, weeks or months of research, have found a stock that is primed to deliver tremendous gains. You call several of your clients whom you feel will be able to and interested in investing in this stock. While there are no guarantees in the stock market, all evidence points to nothing but growth for this company, so your optimism is high.

If you tell your clients that the stock should deliver 15 to 20 points of return over the next few months but are more comfortable in assuming a 10 to 12 point return, you have officially over-promised. You now need the stock to hit at least 15 points to deliver on your promise.

If, however, you suggested that the stock could produce an 8 to 10 point return, you have created a much safer assurance. Now if the stock performs at the expected 15 to 20 points of return, your under-promise will be met with elation as the stock over-delivered.

Yes, closing sales can be more challenging when you employ the under-promise approach, but in the long run, doing so will add immensely to your career.

The Benefits of Over-Delivering

Simply put, when you deliver more than what you suggested to your client and more than what they were expecting, the perceived value increases. With increased value, you are much more likely to get referrals and additional sales.

Sometimes you will over-deliver without even trying to do so. When this happens, just tell your customer that you always give your best and sometimes, your "best" even surprises yourself! Your customer will remember how well you delivered and will be much more likely to lean in your favor the next time a buying decision needs to be made. And when it comes to building your professional reputation, not much is better than having a contact list full of customers who view you as an overachiever.