Suppose you and I go out for the evening. We both have someone expecting us to return at a designated time. I say that I will get back by 9pm. You say that you will return by 10pm. We both return at 9:30pm. While I am getting a lecture about being late, you are being praised for returning early.
We both made it home at a reasonable time, however, I said that I would return at a time that “sounded” better. You managed client expectations and became a hero!
We see this happening all the time with prospects. You might be so anxious to complete a “transaction”, that you promise what you think the prospect wants to hear. How many times have you told prospects that a report is coming sooner than you can actually deliver? How about when asked about the start of a project you want them to fund?
Have you ever given an unrealistic start date for a project, just because you thought they wanted to hear it…because the actual date might scare them away? What have you really gained? The better question is, “What have you lost?” Credibility, perhaps? Your donor relationship suffers, for sure.
Have you ever done this with your boss? How did that work for you?
Ask yourself, “What can I actually deliver after I make this promise? Your prospect will respect you more when you manage their expectations for delivery, rather than if you guess at what sounds better during a conversation.
Try this at home, too. You might be surprised at the outcome.
John J. Corcoran
President and CEO