Assumptions have killed and stalled more sales than lack of budget or your competition.
Clarity of expectations, deliverables, timing, involvement, and follow-up is a powerful way to advance and close the sale. It’s also powerful in service conversations to ensure the customer has what they need.
Setting expectations for and with your buyer/customer helps you productively work through each sales conversation, the entire sales process, and the customer engagement.
During each conversation, there are many opportunities to set expectations as you:
1. Initiate the conversation. Identify and clarify the expectation for your time together. Match your objectives with theirs to ensure the meeting is productive for both of you.
2. Investigate to seek and uncover information that identifies opportunity. The types of questions you ask set the expectation for what you care about, what you are focused on, and your expertise. Asking questions just based on your product indicates you are a product pusher. Questions focused on larger problems, opportunities, wants, or needs that relate to your solution demonstrate that you are a solution provider.
3. Present information on your solution. Provide many opportunities for setting expectations on how the solution addresses what is relevant to this person/company, what it can (and can’t do), what it takes to implement, who will be working with them in the future, guarantees, and more.
4. Work through objections or concerns. Working through the objection is a powerful time to ensure expectations are in alignment, to clarify information you may not have discovered and/or share information they need.
5. Close the conversation. Conversations closed with clarity of expectations for when and what happens next, as well as who is responsible for each item work. The clarifying of expectations reduces your follow-up, helps the buyer know what to do, and sets you up for the next step effectively.
Speaking of expectations, though this message is focused on setting expectations; let’s not forget we are in the conversation with someone else. Combine setting expectations with confirming THEIR expectations along the way and you’ll move further even more quickly.
The bottom line? Skip the assumptions and instead, ask for and set clear expectations during each sales conversation to move the sale to closure.
Your turn: What are the ways you set expectations with your buyer throughout the entire selling process? Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of the Conversations That Sell book.
I find that one of the best ways to find out what the customer expects, is to ask the same question in at least two different ways.
For example, “When do you want this to be live” is based on the same premise as “When does your existing system contract run out” (or other milestone that has been identified) – if the former is after the latter then you definitely need to stop and focus on that point.
Setting expectations: Even though a prospect has a problem it’s important to understand the affect it is having on the prospect. This is important to determine if the prospect is in the buying mood. Questions: How is this problem affecting your business? your customers? your staff? your reputation? How important is it to you to solve this problem? When do you need this problem resolved? Do you have the funds to resolve this problem? How much money are you willing to spend to solve this?