It would be difficult to imagine a business-related headline more crushing than this one: “Santa Failed.” But that’s exactly what the media was saying about Toys R Us in 2000, when the now defunct retailer failed to deliver on its promise of pre-Christmas delivery to thousands of online customers. The resulting press was devastating and so were the consequences — the company was sued by its customers and fined $350,000 by the FTC.
It’s perhaps one of the most well-known cases of a business overpromising to its customers, but it’s certainly not the only one. Outside the ecommerce world, sales leaders are tempted to over promise — timeline, functionality, support, etc. — just to close the deal.
Trust Matters In Sales
However, over-promising is a dangerous game. According to research, consumers report that companies lying or misrepresenting the facts about a product or service is the most damaging thing a company can do to their reputation.
This is because failing to deliver on a promise is all about a betrayal of trust, which in sales is hard earned (just three percent of respondents consider salespeople trustworthy) and easily lost.
The good news is, you don’t need to stretch the truth to close the deal. Here are five ways to get the close without overpromising.
1. Target the right people
With the wrong leads, you’re trying to shape a square peg to fit into a round hole — and overpromising to do some of that whittle work can be tempting.
If many of your “not interested” conversations are more about what your product or service offers than about price, timing, or relationships, you may be talking to the wrong people. Start by looking at your most successful customers, and use their profiles to build customer personas. Then load these personas and customer profiles into your marketing automation software to ensure these prospects get targeted first. This will help keep you on track, targeting the types of leads who don’t need you to over promise because your product or service is already a good fit.
2. Overdeliver every step of the way
Overdeliving is the antidote to overpromising. But you can’t exactly close a sale by underpromising. Who would buy something that you’re not trying your hardest to sell? The solution is to create a reputation of overdelivery. You can do this throughout the sales process — when you tell a prospect you’re going to follow up with a couple of resources, send 10; when you promise to get an answer in two days, do it in one. Staying on top of your relationship with prospects is easier with the right customer relationship management software, so be sure yours is working well for your company.
3. Ask your team members for help
Successful sales requires confidence, but letting that confidence lead you into a promise you can’t keep would be a big mistake. That’s where your broader team comes in. Let’s say you have a prospect who’s asking questions about custom features. You think what they want is possible, however you aren’t certain. Check with your tech team. They can provide you with an accurate answer, and they may be able to give some additional expert insights that could help close the deal.
Maybe your lead is concerned about how they’ll be onboarded to your product, or what ongoing support will look like. Don’t just tell them what you expect to happen, give them a taste. Call upon your customer success team to jump into a quick meeting, or maybe even use some of their materials to provide a sneak peek.
4. And ask your existing customers for help, too
Not only is social proof a powerful tool of persuasion, it can help keep you honest. There is no better way to explain what buying into your product or service will be like than to ask those who’ve done it to tell their story. This could be in the form of short testimonials or reviews — nearly 70 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase — or longer form case studies. Either way, it’s about letting real-world results do the talking for you.
5. Sweeten the deal (reasonably)
Promising product features or timelines that are out of your control is never a good idea. You can, however, lean upon those things that you do have a say in. Make sure you have a list in your back pocket of what you’re able to offer. Perhaps it’s a certain percentage off if a close is made in a set timeline, an extra feature or two for free, a no-strings-attached trial period, or a complimentary additional training/onboarding session. Even flexible payment options can be a benefit to some prospects. If you can provide it, go ahead and promise it. Sometimes a little push is all that’s needed to reach the finish line.
Trust is all about consistency and integrity — and that includes keeping your promises. When you get trust right in sales, you’ll close more prospects, and those who you don’t close will be more likely to recommend you anyway to someone else who might be a better fit.
Pipeliner CRM empowers salespeople to gain trust. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.