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Setting Expectations with Your Customer By Mark Hunter

The expectations you set with your customer during the selling process are going to determine the expectations the customer has after the sale.

A salesperson’s inability to do this correctly is a huge problem. It happens way more often than any of us would care to admit. Too many salespeople make promises on a whim that they cannot sustain after the sale.

It’s easy in the heat of the moment, when you know the sale could go either way, to make a comment about performance or the results the customer can expect to receive. We’ve all done it, myself included.

As tempting as it might be to throw out a comment at the last minute to close a sale, be careful. It’s too easy to forget about what we said after the sale is made. Ironically, what you said to the customer at the last minute – an unrealistic guarantee or offer – may be the only thing the customer remembers.

You should recognize too that sometimes it’s not what we say, but what the customer says that can come back to haunt us. Don’t think for a moment it’s not your job to be prepared to correct the customer. For example, what you sell might help a customer reduce their labor and speed up the filling of orders. The customer might take that to believe they will be able to “slash labor costs.”

On the surface, the customer’s comment sounds in line with ours, but what we don’t know is what the customer truly means when they say, “Slash labor costs.”

Following up on every comment made by a customer is essential to prevent things from getting out of control. This does not mean challenging them. Instead, it means asking them a question.

In the above example, you might want to ask, “With regard to labor, what did you have in mind?” A question like this is going to give the customer an opportunity to expand on what they said. You will then have a better understanding of their frame of reference and you will be able to respond accordingly.

The same thing applies to the quick comments you make. Never make a comment without also asking the customer a question. Your goal should be to become incredibly adept at generating valuable conversation with the customer.

When you do this, you will be less apt to make promises you can’t keep. You will instead be diligent in gaining clarification from the customer to ensure their expectations are in line with what you can deliver.

Top-performing salespeople know that making unrealistic promises is a sure-fire way to tarnish credibility, sabotage profit, and weaken customer satisfaction.
Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter,” is a leading sales expert and author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.” He speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com.