Managing Expectations

One important key to keeping your customers and turning them into repeat customers, it to manage their expectations.

Imaging this scene, a sales rep. promises the customer delivery of the goods in two weeks and gets back to the office only to find out that they can’t possibly deliver within those timelines.

And after the promised delivery date comes and goes without a delivery the customer is fuming, because their customers are chewing their ear off because their delivery is late as well.

What kind of reaction do you think this salesperson will get the next time he/she attempts to visit that account?

How many follow-up sales do you think he/she will get?

“Frustration happens when there is a difference between expectations and reality.”
-Dave Ralph

Your customer will be frustrated, the opportunity (and sale) could be lost and both of you will have wasted a whole lost of valuable time.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When we promise our customers something they trust us to deliver on those promises. In fact, they are counting on it. And if we don’t deliver, they could have production slow downs and angry customers to add to their stress. And you know who they will blame for this challenge…. You.

It damages the relationship and could possibly cost you that customer.

So, how do we avoid this frightning situation.

  1. Don’t promise anything until you know you can deliver on that promise. Customer will respect you more if you tell them that you will have to check to make sure you can deliver, than if you say “Yes, we can deliver” and then go back to your business and try to push it through.
  2. If something happens (ie. Out of stock situations from your suppliers) that prevents you from being able to deliver on time, inform your customer as soon as possible. This will give them a chance to find another supplier and prevent them from looking bad to their customers. Better yet, if you have other options available for them (ie. another supplier or vendor), they will realize that you are working in their best interest. Especially if they know that it will cost you the sale. This will help cement the relationship and although you lose the battle, you have just taken big steps in winning the war. Because they will now feel that they can count on you to be honest with them and work in their best interest.
  3. Apologize for the inconvenience. Never underestimate the power of an apology to help you get past some of the hiccups in any relationship.

So next time a customer is pressing you to meet an impossible deadline, risk losing the sale, make sure you manage those unrealistic expectations and set a more realistic expectation in their mind. One you are comfortable commiting to. And you will be on your way to enjoying a healthy long-term relationship with that customer.

“It is not worth losing a customer over a sale.” -Richard Elmes