Undisclosed Secrets of a Star Crossed Sales Manager

Jeremy Bentley
Marketing Director
The Fink Agency
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Making Everyone Happy, Is It Possible?

So this isn’t one of my usual posts but it is something really important. It popped up last week on a job and I believe it is necessary for any professional person, regardless of the size of the organisation for which they work, to know and practise. There was a recent production undertaken by the company for which I work whereby we had a lot of different entities involved with decision making with a lot of client exposure and I was not always led to believe the truth in certain matters resulting in a lot of frustration from all parties involved who expected things to happen as promised...

I would love to go into the details surrounding the job but it has a high profile and I am not at liberty to spill my guts just yet (you will have to follow my companies blog for those details!) but lets just say that the schedule was tight, a lot of major decisions were made last minute and small issues were turned into big deals unnecessarily. By the end of this post, I aim to have you appreciating the importance of understanding, managing and setting expectations whilst consequently making everyone who you deal with, including clients and staff, happy.

The majority of all lost expectations come as a result of over promising and under delivering, a term that is common within professional circles. Very often when jobs are not going as planned or are not on target, individuals tend to cover up the reality with what they think the person asking for the results wants to hear. The psychology around this action alone is a common trait amongst humans, we want everyone to be happy (and we don’t want to deal with an angry person) so we tell a little lie to cover up the reality which isn’t so bad and can be dealt with before it becomes an issue, right? Well, sometimes it works but in situations where time is short and other people rely on you completing a task, that little lie in turn creates a whole bunch of frustration and unnecessary anger.

So, when you have a job to do, a task to complete or are providing a service you need to avoid fabricated deadlines. The more open you are about the completion of your task the better, in fact, what’s even better is if you buy yourself a bit a time too. When you can complete your task earlier than scheduled it only makes you look good and your client/boss/member of staff will respect you. Remember that in the majority of situations you decide the schedule, so set the expectation a little later than you anticipate, giving yourself extra time to complete the task even if just for the sake of being able to say,"I`m ahead of schedule!".

In my early days of sales management I would tell my boss the exact time that the task he asked for would be completed because I thought the earlier I gave it to him the happier he would be. On a couple of occasions I fell short of the deadline that I set as I did not anticipate or give room for any errors that popped up and this impacted everything else that my boss had planned for the day because he was relying on the work that I was doing to complete his own tasks. Little to my knowledge at the time, he was more concerned that the task given to me was completed when I said it would be so that he could arrange and prioritize his day accordingly.  These early days were very influential to say the least, but I quickly had to learn, in an indirect way, how to manage and set peoples expectations.

It works for customers too, whether you provide a service or sell goods. It depends on you personally how you want to set your customers expectations; you could either provide a minimum and maximum amount of time for delivery or for a service to be completed so that they are aware it may take longer than suggested, you could take the estimated time for the completion of your task and add 20% just to be safe or you could offer two types of services - a normal (within a certain amount of time) or a premium (which is within a specifically shortened amount of time). Just remember people want to hear the truth, not what you think they want to hear.

This advice is all well and good but it must not be taken as an excuse to use as much time as you like when doing a job. Service is everything in this day and age and if you can finish a job, complete a task or deliver a product quicker than the competitor next to you then you will create loyalty and have a good reputation. If you mess up by promising something that you can’t live up to then don’t be surprised when your customers jump ship or the other guy at work gets the promotion.

All the best in your latest pursuit!

Jeremy Bentley

The Fink Agency 

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