The easiest way to lose trust with your customer is by making promises you cannot keep. No one wants to intentionally lie but frankly many people in sales are not completely truthful with their clients. Why? The biggest excuse I hear is that they are afraid to be negative with their client. They think that if they don’t tell the client what they think the client wants to hear then that client or prospect will go somewhere else.
That might be true in some cases but wouldn’t you rather be the salesperson who exceeds your customers’ expectations rather the one that disappoints the customer? A skilled salesperson knows how to manage the customer’s expectations and then over deliver on those expectations.
No one likes to say no. You want to say yes to everything so that you customer will decide to go with you and your product or service. You really know that you can’t say yes to everything. When yes is not the truthful answer or, at best, overly optimistic you are creating unrealistic expectations. When you fail to meet these unrealistic expectations you end up disappointing the customer. But that is not all. The customer will tell his or her friends that you are unreliable and that you make promises that you don’t keep. It would have been much better if you had told the prospect up front what could and could not be done. The best way to avoid alienating your customers is by managing expectations. And here is a system you can follow to do that.
Manage customer expectations from the very first meeting. The most successful way to start the relationship is by understanding the customer’s wants and needs. Conduct a complete fact finding interview. Find out what the customer wants and also what is the least he or she is willing to accept. You should ask questions about budget and time frame, for example. And, by all means, you need to be honest with the customer. If the customer has any unrealistic expectations let them know what is realistically possible.
Next, explain completely your process in working with clients. Be very honest about time frames. Don’t leave things open. You can’t spend all your time with one client so be realistic about the time you will devote to them. If you have an engagement letter spell out your process including what customers can expect from you as well as the things you will need from them. When you present this information you are showing the customer and you are a professional. Contrary to what you may think you are actually enhancing your value to them by showing them that you know your business and that you are thorough.
Begin your engagement with the confidence that you know you can perform. You will have less stress. You will also have an excellent opportunity now to over perform and exceed expectations. Managing customer expectation will help you manage your time and increase customer satisfaction. This is a double win.
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