No, I am not questioning the message behind Nike’s well known slogan or mantra, nothing to do with Nike at all.
I am talking to and about sales people who regularly fail to follow through on expectations they set for people they work with, but most importantly, prospects and customers.
We have all familiar with old sales adage: “Under Promise – Over Deliver”, well it seems many sales people feel that only applies to some things, some actions, but not all. While most get how to leverage this from a product perspective, they seem to feel they have immunity when it comes to actions they have committed to. While existing clients may be a bit more tolerant of tardiness, (although they should not have to be), prospects who have never dealt with you, have nothing else to parse a decision around than your ability or willingness to actually follow through, in the way you said you would.
Buyers long ago have realized that even products claiming to be bleeding edge and “revolutionary”, are at best evolutionary in nature, or last year’s model with a fresh coat of paint. This leaves the interaction with the rep and the selling organization as one the determinant and differentiator in a decision. While it is always an advantage to be able to deliver insight that prospects can action and achieve more than they set out to achieve, or take any action they otherwise would not have. But absent that, and believe me in a world of feature, buzzword and price selling, it is very absent, the only thing left is how we sell, and core to that is how we deliver on even the smallest commitment we make.
While I understand that there are more demands than ever on sales people’s time, there are (or so we are told) just as many new tools allowing sales professionals to maximize their time. This really is a situation where you are in control, both in the commitments you make, and the ones you chose not to follow through on. The fact that many, pundits and buyers, recognize that you are having to pack 16 hours into a ten-hour day, does not equal having permission not to do something, especially things we committed to with prospects/buyers. Things includes the “smaller” things, but in a world “same”, it will those little things that will swing decisions.
There are some simple things we can do. Starting with prioritizing, and not just in creating a list, but in how we set expectations for prospects. If something indeed is “small” in your estimation, then the expectations you set around it should also be small. You can tell a prospect you will have an answer for them much further out than you would for delivering something impacting an impending buy decision.
Couple this with other useful practices. One is the old Urgency/Importance matrix, allowing you to prioritize activates, and make sure they are done. Add to this the practice chunking, where you set allocate specific time to the practice of setting out “chunks” of time for specific tasks. Where many limit their success is not extending these to their calendar. If it has to be done, it needs to be scheduled! If you don’t have the time, and you know it going in, don’t promise, or know who you will delegate it to. While I appreciate the power of intent, it does not replace do, or make up for something you don’t do that you led the prospect to believe you would.
While it is natural to focus on the on the visible, the things that you get done, but buyers are more likely to remember the things we don’t do.