expectationsGreat expectations lead to great sales outcomes.

Sage advice from a sales VP I used to work under: “Joanne, never leave a meeting without giving your buyer a task. That’s the best test for whether the person is serious about moving forward.”

His words of wisdom have proven to be true, and this philosophy has helped me increase my sales effectiveness time and time again. Not only do I always ensure my buyers have a task, but we also confirm a timeframe and expectations for what they’ll receive from me.

That’s why I resonated with the post from this week’s guest blogger, Nancy Bleeke, who says you should always get everything in writing. Here’s her take:

“Have you experienced this situation? You have a great conversation with your buyer (or team member) and walk away thinking you’re both clear about what will happen next.

Then either:

  1. Nothing happens. The information or action you expected from the buyer doesn’t happen.
  2. Reality hits. You deliver what you believe you committed to deliver, but they wanted or expected something different.


Don’t Get Blindsided

Too often, a gap between your expectations and reality creates:

  • Extra work for you
  • Frustration for everyone
  • Calls to your manager
  • Loss of future business
  • Loss of time, money, and reputation

None of these are helpful, are they?

Close the Communication Gap

Communication snafus like this are inevitable. But you’ll be much more successful in the long run if you take steps to minimize these gaps.

How? The answer is simple:Verbally clarify expectations and follow up in writing!

End your conversation with a clear agreement on expectations for the following:

  • What?
  • Who?
  • When?
  • How?

After the discussion, send a follow-up note to document and confirm once again. Include these specifics for each action item.

It Only Takes a Minute

It doesn’t take long to confirm that you’re on the same page as your customers. But time pressures, distractions, assumptions, and many other barriers make it easy to skip the follow-up or to loosely define expectations.

I nearly ended a telephone conversation this week with a ‘loose’ follow-up. Writing this post reminded me to stop and ask for clarity. I’m so glad I did! The buyer’s timing was different than I assumed. In this situation, I had two more weeks than I thought to deliver what I promised.

The three minutes it took to confirm expectations had a great payoff for me. If the situation had been reversed, and I had two less weeks than I thought, my follow-up would have been even more critical. Otherwise, I might have lost a valuable client.

It’s that simple: Great outcomes begin with clarifying real expectations.”

Bleeke Nancy


About the Author

Nancy Bleeke is an author, professional trainer, speaker, facilitator, and president of Sales Pro Insider, Inc. Her training courses and process help companies increase sales by 5 to 25 percent, strengthen employee retention and engagement, and drive customer loyalty. To find out more about Nancy, visit www.salesproinsider.com, or learn more about how to make your conversations count with her book, Conversations That Sell.

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When have unclear expectations caused trouble with one of your clients?