Setting Expectations

His introduction caught everyone by surprise when he said,

It’s really an expensive suit, it just looks cheap on me,” he said.

We were stunned that a veteran salesman would say that in front of the customer. At first blush it didn’t make sense, but as the sales relationship moved forward, it sunk in:

He was setting expectations that no matter what, he would tell the truth.

This is a case of handing expectations properly.

As a seasoned salesman he knew these important things:

1. As much as anything, people base their buying decisions on their trust in the salesperson first and the product or the company second.

2. Setting expectations properly is the key to all repeat sales.

3. Mishandling expectations is something customers may forgive, but never forget.

4. Honesty is the best policy.

5. Expectations imply and create futures

Expectations are the anticipation of something that hasn’t yet occurred and the hope that their trust in you will be rewarded in finding what they really need and want and providing it as promised.

Simple forthrightness, truthfulness, common sense,  sincerity and integrity will do more to gain their loyalty than anything else you do. They’ll buy from you again, when they feel you are honest and are looking out for their best interests after the sale.

The best advice I can give you in correctly setting expectations, is:

Promise only what you can deliver and never promise what you can’t deliver.

If you offer excuses, reasons, justifications instead of predictable results, you have lost a repeat customer for good. No matter what they tell you at the time, they will try to avoid doing business with you again.

When you deliver what you have promised, you have shown that their trust in you was well placed and you have created a potential repeat customer. They’ll look for a way to do business with you again.

Here is an example of an all too common case of mishandled expectations:

You guarantee that your service will generate $100,000 in new sales. If they only hit $90,000, your program will be viewed as a failure – even when they would have been thrilled with new sales of  $50,000!

By setting unreal expectations, you are setting yourself up for failure, even though, in fact, you may have helped them more than they expected!

You must discover this first: What do they really expect? What are they really hoping for that they would be satisfied with?

Find out before you end up setting unrealistic expectations. Because, if you are too far off the mark in addressing their expectations, you’ll come off as unrealistic and unknowledgeable about the complexities of their business. They’ll lose confidence and you’ll lose future sales.

● Find out how much they realistically expect to invest.
● Find out when they need to get the service or product.
● Find out where the funding for the investment is coming from.
● Align your services to help meet their expectations.
● Under-promise and over-deliver

Don’t underestimate the value of handling expectations in an honest, realistic way. It is one of the most important ways that you can turn a sale into a satisfied and loyal customer.

daniel w. jacobs
© 2002-2030 – all rights reserved

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