Over promise and under deliver

Dear Tony,

Sometimes when I know I’m on the brink of getting a deal I over-promise things to the client which later comes back to haunt me. Why do I keep doing this? And how can I stop?

I understand why you might do this; naturally, you get excited about being on the brink of closing a deal, and therefore if the client asks you anything, you don’t want to say anything negative, and that may affect you winning the business. 

One of the most important parts of the sales cycle is called ‘consolidating the sale’. This is where you outline to the customer everything they are getting as part of the deal, to avoid any ‘you said, he said’ scenario. Therefore, it’s crucial that anything discussed must go in writing, so you can refer to it at a later date if need be. Equally, you need to ensure the customer is 100% clear on what the next steps are and the time frames they will be delivered in. If you do this at the end of every sale, you will avoid any confusion on both sides and you will not over promise and under deliver.

Buyers are aware that when the salesperson is on the brink of winning their business, they are at their most vulnerable and most generous state. Therefore wise buyers will use this time to try and negotiate additional products or services as part of the deal, without having to pay any more for it. It’s important to be strong at this point and realize this is just a negotiation tactic and instead, reinforce exactly what the buyer is getting and rebuild the value. I discuss this in detail in the negotiation chapter in my book ‘Coffee’s for closers’.

Where possible, you want to under promise and over deliver at the end of the sales process. For example, if you know a product takes 3 days for delivery, it might be wise to tell the customer they should expect it in 5; so when it arrives 2 days early they are impressed. This also gives you some room for error and again, avoiding any frustration from your customer.

Next time you are on the brink of a sale and that wonderful rush of excitement and adrenaline arises, remember to remain calm and clearly outline what the deals entail. Get agreement from the customer that everything makes perfect sense and you have answered all their questions; then thank them for their business and ask for a referral.

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