Under promise and over deliver

UPODHaving started my career in sales, I remember I had it drummed into me from very early on “under promise and over deliver”. My question as I’ve got older and more experienced is why would you under promise what something you’re trying to sell could do?
I understand the principle of not over promising on what your product or service has the potential to deliver. If you do that you’ll only ever have customers that feel as if they’ve been short changed – but why under promise?
In many business to business selling situations, the sales person will conduct a fact find or a needs analysis as to what it is that the prospect wants or needs – where the opportunity exists.
Provided the product or service meets the needs or wants of the prospect and the price can be justified, why would the customer not buy?
My face to face sales career began in commercial radio where we would conduct a fact find with a prospect before going back with a bespoke package of commercial airtime, promotional activity or sponsorship.
I would talk to the client about his business, everything from how he got started to what he thought the future held. The questions revolved around three key areas;
  • The client’s business
  • The client’s competition
  • The client’s customers
By listening to what the client told me and asking relevant supplementary questions, I was able to fully understand the current and desired position of the prospect.
By further probing who the prospects customers were in terms of lifestyle, psychographics and demographics, what the client wanted them to do i.e. visit the shop, phone or visit the prospect’s website and why they should do it (i.e. a promotion or a special price) I knew that we could produce a script that would motivate the right people to do the right thing at the right time.
Radio audience measurement was (and still is) probably the most robust of any broadcast medium and so the campaign was planned to maximise the reach (the number of people that would hear the prospect’s campaign) and frequency (the number of times the prospect’s message would be heard). I was able to go back to the client with the right campaign in terms of reach and frequency and the script to produce the right commercial to motivate the prospect’s customer to buy.
Providing I had asked the right questions that had led to answers that enabled me to recognise the needs and/or wants of the prospect I simply needed to meet those needs or wants.
Why therefore dis I need to under promise and over deliver?
If I were to under promise the prospect might not buy and so I used to compare the campaign he was buying with the average response other advertisers targeting a similar audience were getting from the station – backed with testimonials where possible.
My point is that if we can simply deliver what our prospect wants there is no need to under promise and over deliver.
A good sale is one where the buyer and the seller feel like they have got a good deal.
A product or service that satisfies the needs or wants of the buyer is a win-win sale.

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