Very few things are as important in sales as setting expectations. If you do not give your customers and clients an accurate picture of what is happening and a reasonable picture of what will happen, you can create a great deal of upset and aggravation. Knowledge helps a customer to feel in control during a transaction, which helps them to feel more calm and relaxed during the transaction. This is especially true during large multi-step projects and custom work.
Projects take as long as they are going to take, no matter how much you try to rush them. Customers are going to have unrealistic ideas of what is reasonable. These are facts of doing business that you cannot control or change. But you can control how happy or upset a client is by how you manage their expectations.
Let’s say a customer wants a particular product and he needs it by the 12th, even though today is the first and you require a 14 day minimum turnaround time. You know you can’t have it before the 14th, so you tell the customer that you “will TRY to have it on the 12th, but you can’t promise.” The customer goes away happy, because he thinks there’s a good shot at him having the product on the 12th. The customer calls on the 12th, wanting to know if the product is ready yet, but of course it isn’t. You tell him that it isn’t ready, at which point he gets upset. You remind him you said that you “will try” to have it on the 12th, but that it is a 14 day minimum turnaround. The product is ready on the 14th and gets delivered to a very unhappy customer, because not only is the product late, but in his mind you lied. He may even decide to cancel the order or to refuse delivery, but at the very least you will never get an order from them again.
Look at the alternate version of the same scenario. You tell the customer that you will do your very best, but the soonest you can deliver is on the 14th; that the process usually takes even longer, but you want to accommodate him to the best of your ability, gain his business and be honest with him. He’s not happy, but decides to place the order because he knows that you are trying to accommodate him and can at least promise delivery on the 14th. This gives him the time to make adjustments and possibly stretch his deadline out till the 14th. The product comes in on the 14th, just like you said it would. The customer is satisfied because you did everything you said you were going to do. Since that is a rare thing in today’s business world, you have earned at least a repeat order, if not a solid customer.
In order to set, and maintain, proper expectations, you must need to have accurate information readily available. Managers must update their sales staff of any changes or developments that may affect delivery times, process, specifications or execution. Low cost message services like GenieVOX let a sales staff have access to all the information they need anytime, anywhere. Managers can leave updated messages in their mailbox for sales team members to pick up at a later time. A dedicated toll-free number gives customers a place to leave messages up to 3 minutes long that can be received 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from a sales team member via their phone, text or email. Management and production can message every staff member or customer at once with the same message without having to use a phone chain. This is real-time access to information that helps you to manage expectations and to maintain trust and good client relations.