Great Expectations is more than a Dickens book – its a powerful force in business life.  It drives customer loyalty, frustration, sales and so much more.  ‘Managing expectations’ isn’t good enough anymore…driving and exceeding expectations is the ‘real’ differentiator of pros from rookies.

Don’t get me wrong, managing expectations is important.  But matching expectations to reality should be the goal.   The effort to sync up reality with expectations runs throughout the sales cycle, implementation or delivery and the relationship. Exceed expectations and you’ll do great.  Miss or just manage expectations and you’ve got a hard road ahead.

Let’s look at a few points in the sales process and the ‘reality” for the sales pro and the customer.

Your Reality Their Reality
 Prospecting Need to initiate contact Doing more with less – tapped for time
 Needs Analysis Want good information to sell to Don’t want to take the time
 Presentation Ready to share’ all you’ve got Only care about HOw what you have relates to them
 Negotation Want to get through to the close May consider this ‘haggling’ time
 Close Need to make get this done and make your manager happy Making a decision might be risky
 Implementation Maybe passed to someone inside your company Lots of hard work potentially – slows them down


Throughout the whole process your reality may be very different from their reality.  What’s important is to:

  • Define and clarify expectations along the way
  • Explain intention and HOW things will go or
  • WHY you are asking for certain information
  • Ask open ended questions throughout all your discussions to determine their reality.  It might be way different than you think.

I know this sounds easy on paper -and in ‘real’ life – its tough.  People have different ways of communicating, or not communicating.  They are busy and don’t want to take time, or they are clear them self on certain points, needs, information, etc.  Recapping discussions with clear WHAT’s next, WHO is doing what, WHEN time frames, and HOW you are proceeding will help you get in front of the reality to build great expectations together.