Are you keeping your promise?


photo by mayr 

Opening Day gives the promise of new life for your baseball team.

Those first daffodils, crocus and tulips give the promise of Spring in the air.

So what’s your promise to your customer?

The reality is that whether you specifically state a promise or not, a promise is assumed and your reputation and future sales from that customer (and their potential referrals) are going to be largely based on if you kept or exceeded that assumed promise.

Get it up front

We had an interesting discussion today at the Heartland Coaches Alliance primarily focused on the importance of establishing a clear and focused coaching agreement before meeting with clients.

In order to be effective, that up front agreement has to be a collaboration, a promise, between both parties in terms of expected outcomes (of the meeting and the longer term relationship) and the rules of the game.

Although coaches will do this process very overtly, the reality is that there is an up front agreement made any time two people enter into a transaction.

If I go to buy a soft drink at the local Kwik Trippe, unless told differently I’m expecting a certain type of beverage of a standard quality with clean cups, lids and straws.  In exchange, the store is expecting that I will make a minimum amount of mess, I will pay at the counter and keep the line moving.

If any of these components are missing, the promises are broken and someone is likely disappointed or upset.

So how do you make sure that you and your customers are not victims of broken promises?

Up Front Contract and Questions

There is a sales strategy (that’s also really effective for non sales meetings as well) called an up front contract that is a structured way to set up a sales meeting in such a way to maximize understanding so you and your prospective customer can decide if you want to do business together.  It’s really just a way to make sure that you can ask the powerful questions you need to ask to make sure you get to the details you both have to have to make the commitment to do business.

Here are the basics of an Up Front Contract:

1.  Meeting Duration – we’re going to talk together for the next hour (It’s important to hold to this commitment).

2.  Expectations and Activities – I’m going to ask a lot of questions to try and figure out what you are doing and what you need.  I also expect that you will want to ask me questions to get the information you need.  Are you all right with that?

3.  Recommended next steps:  Once we both have a good understanding of what the issues and potential solutions are, I will make a recommendation or a proposal, which could include following up for another meeting to get more data or to meet more decision makers or might be the final proposed solution.

4.  Acceptable outcomes:  Either the proposed solution is something that’s interesting to you or it’s not.  If it is interesting, that’s great just let me know.  I’m expecting that you can tell me ‘YES’ you’d like to move forward – is that okay?  If the proposed solution is not interesting to you, I would like to make sure now that you are comfortable saying ‘No’ it’s not for me at this time.  Are you comfortable telling me no?

5.  Unacceptable outcomes:  What is not acceptable is for you to tell me “I don’t know, I’d like to think on it”.  If that’s the answer, then I am going to assume that it’s actually a ‘No’. and we will not continue the sales process.

Although it seems kind of stiff and formal, once you get used to the idea and make it conversational it’s an extremely powerful approach that can really enhance your sales process.  The beauty of it is that you both know what to expect during the sales discussion and you’ve already laid the groundwork that it’s okay and expected to say ‘No’ if there’s not any interest.  Think of the time and heartache you can save as a salesperson if you’re not chasing someone for weeks just because they didn’t want to hurt your feelings and tell you no.

Considering the Royals early success of 3 – 0 on the road, are they making a promise to be contenders this year?  I hope so, what do you think?

Shawn Kinkade

2 thoughts on “Are you keeping your promise?”

  1. Little Guy says:

    Mr. Kinkade… your website should get an award for originality and the BEST pictures! The posts always look so great! Do you offer a seminar on how to find such great picture?

    Little Guy

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