The Importance of Managing Customer Expectations During the Sales Process

When I was a kid, my best friend’s stepdad was a sales executive for Compaq Computer.  Envisioning myself as a future businessman, I paid attention to him.  One phrase he told us stuck with me over the years as I built my own sales career, and I still try to impart it to my own sales team today:

“Tell them what you’re going to tell them.  Tell them wha­t you’re telling them.  And, tell them what you told them.”

To me, this saying emphasizes the importance of clearly and thoroughly communicating with your customer in order to manage expectations.

Customer expectation is the greatest factor in customer satisfaction.  If expectations are not properly managed, you might just cost yourself a deal.  We open our conversations with customers about what they can expect.  How does the financing process unfold?  What kind of down payment should be expected?  How much will the monthly payment be (or at least a realistic estimate)?  How long of a term should be expected?  How is the deal structured?  What equipment is acceptable and what is not?  These are among some of the most important questions to answer, the expectations to set.

Ensure a Successful Sale by Having Difficult Conversations Upfront

Many times we find that less experienced reps attempt to take shortcuts and leave out critical points that should be made clear to the customer.  Shortcuts aren’t acceptable and hoping someone will close just doesn’t work.  This means the difficult conversations must be had upfront.  The payments must be sold upfront.  Expectation on down payment must be set upfront.  Possible deal structures (equipment finance agreement, loan, or lease) must be explained upfront.

If these steps are not followed you can rely on getting a deal all the way to the “docs out” stage and lose control of the process when the customer gets upset reading terms he or she was not expecting.  This can result in completely losing the customer and wasting your time, the company’s time, and possibly resulting in a negative online review.  A discerning customer will simply find someone who handles the process better than you and can manage expectations.

How to Manage Customer Expectations and Improve Your Closing Ratio

  1. Get to know your finance company’s programs inside and out.
  2. Thoroughly get to know your customer and their requirements.
  3. Ask about a customer’s monthly payment comfort and maximum down payment.
  4. Outline a system that easily allows you to align the customer’s preferred structure with your finance company’s programs.
  5. Be prepared to quote a payment and down payment upon request.
  6. Make adjustments based on a customer’s comfort zone.
  7. Agree on specifics before you start any work on the file.
  8. Collect a small refundable commitment fee to deliver agreed-upon result, if you can.

The more you sell upfront, the less you have to sell to actually close of the transaction.  This will help your business run more efficiently and make you a far more productive sales rep.