Monday, August 11, 2014

Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

It's a great catch phrase, but how do you do it?  This isn't a trick of vocabulary!

When we go out and say, "We'd like to offer you - " it means we don't offer it now. Or, "Let's aim for tomorrow." These qualified terms have nothing to do with what your client hears.  What your client hears are the phrases closest to what they want.  If your client wants the product tomorrow, "Let's aim for tomorrow" means tomorrow to them.  It doesn't mean you're going to "try for tomorrow." To the client, it isn't maybe.  It means you will deliver. If you miss tomorrow, the client's faith in you is shaken. This is the entire problem.

Good sales reps occasionally slip up and say things like, "We can sometimes get this out in 24 hrs." All the client hears is tomorrow.  She doesn't hear the qualifying language at all!  If you want the client to have something tomorrow, unless you're planning to handle all the fulfillment yourself, you need to excuse yourself and make a phone call.  Never commit to anything on a tighter deadline than your company usually can deliver.  Even if your company advertises a 2 day turnaround, if usually it takes them 3 days, say 3.  If you deliver in 2, your client is delighted her order is early.  If you deliver in 3, you keep your promises.

If your client insists on a commitment that is tighter than your usual, you need to tread lightly!  There is little worse in a sales relationship than failing to deliver to your clients.  When the client presses for the impossible you need to avoid committing without your team's support.  "I need to see if we have that in stock," "Let me check in with our scheduler," and "I need to confirm with production" are all graceful ways to excuse yourself for the phone call you need to make.  If it really is impossible, don't waste their time.  "I wish I could, but instead let's aim for  -."

When you come back to your client after the phone call to the office, tell them the truth.  If you can meet the tighter deadline or accommodate the larger order, you don't want to leave the impression that this is normal order scheduling.  If you did it overnight, or a huge order on a dime today, that's what the client will remember. Make sure they understand that you moved heaven and earth to make this work, and you're shocked it turned out so well!  "In the future, we consistently want to meet your schedule without the miracles!  Let's work out a contact system where we can anticipate your needs." It gives you a great foundation for building a solid relationship with open communication.

Only make commitments you can meet.  Make sure you build ample time into your promises to cover reality.  Every time you over-deliver on time, or quality, you build trust in your relationship with your client.  Make it a habit!

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