For years I’ve preached not to over promise and under deliver, and I stick by that. However, purposely under promising to over deliver isn’t a good marketing plan. If you purposely under promise the likelihood that you’ll lose sales is guaranteed. Any competitor who can offer your client more than your under promised plan has the opportunity to take your customer away from you.

Don’t get me wrong, I stand by guns about over promising. If you over promise to secure an order chances are you will have a difficult time with an unhappy customer, who will never call you again, and then tell others about their poor experience. Not such a good plan is it?

So What’s the Plan?

It’s really pretty simple. Tell the truth. Don’t under or over promise. Don’t tell the customer what they want to hear if it’s not deliverable, and don’t hedge your bet and hold back on your promise. Listen to the customer, know what they expect, check with your team, and give the prospect the most accurate and honest information available.

Keep Your Promises

The first key to keeping promises is to know what can be delivered. Don’t guess and don’t lie. What, you’ve never lied to a customer? Good for you, but are you certain? Have you ever withheld information from a client because you were afraid of losing their business? How’d that plan work for you? Lying by omission is still a lie.

Make a New Plan

If you and your organization over promise only to gain a contract, in the long run it will hurt your business. If, on the other hand, you hold your cards close and purposely under promise then you’ll lose clients to competitors. What’s the new plan? Only promise what you can deliver and keep that promise. Here’s how.

  • Know your customer’s expectations. Repeat them back to your client, put it in writing, and clarify every point. No surprises on your end.
  • Inform your customer of their responsibilities. If a customer needs to supply information, materials, or equipment be perfectly clear how failing to do so can affect your promise to the customer.
  • Know what your team, product, and service can deliver. And if you’re not sure, ask your team before making any promises.
  • Follow up, and follow up some more. Be sure promises are being kept in a timely manner.
  • Communicate. Your customer shouldn’t have to contact you for information about the project because you’ve stayed in touch with them and updated them at every milestone.
  • If it breaks down, let your customer know. Sometimes things fall apart and even well-intentioned plans bust at the seams. If that happens inform your customer ASAP, and have a plan to move forward.

I’ll Make This Promise

If you follow the six bullet points above, and understand what your team can and cannot deliver you’ll create loyal customers and long-term relationships. If you know what your client expects and share what you can absolutely deliver the word will spread. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to work with happy customers, don’t you think?

If you’d like to read more, try this, How to Chase Customers Away.