Questions answered by Colleen

How do I build trust with existing clients in this market?
Allen in Toronto

Dear Allen,

Good for you to be thinking about enhancing your relationships with current clients. Too many sales reps forget about this. Meeting – or exceeding – customer expectations is at the heart of trust. When expectations aren’t met, trust is broken, opportunities are missed and sales can be lost, all despite the countless hours of hard work that were put in to almost making something happen.

1. Be clear, thorough – and honest

Shared expectations produce greater harmony and more sales – period. When establishing expectations at the onset of a project, be as thorough as possible, and be prepared to adjust as needed.

For example, if you find the customer asking for something you simply can’t deliver, try some of the following to set the right expectations, right from the start:

  • I’m not sure we can provide the program with that deposit schedule. If we can’t, does that mean it’s over between us?
  • I don’t think we can meet your delivery schedule. Knowing that, does it make sense for us to move forward?

In addition, be clear about what your customer can expect from you, as well as what they can’t. Tell them what you can deliver instead of what they are asking for. Tell them that if ever you are unable to fulfill a request, you will always let them know either up front, or the minute you realize it yourself.

2. Set the bar for consistent performance

Remember the old adage, “under-promise and over-deliver?” In sales, this isn’t just a falsehood – it also sets an expectation that you might not be able to keep up with in the future.

When you under-promise and over-deliver, you set the bar for what the customer expects you to deliver at a whole new level. What you “over-delivered” becomes the new baseline, and when you aren’t able to meet this new standard consistently, your customer will end up feeling confused, disappointed – or betrayed.

To build a consistently profitable relationship, there’s no point in delivering better, faster for less investment than your original promise if you know that you can’t keep that promise through the relationship. It’s better to simply say what you are going to do, and then do it exactly as and when you said you would.

Good luck! Colleen

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