When presenting your company to a potential new client, it’s easy to fall into the trap of promising more than you can deliver: “Work with us, and everything will be perfect!” You’re proud of your company, and you know you’ll do a great job. It can’t hurt to paint a picture of perfection so you can land the client, can it? Actually, it can. Here’s why and suggestions on what to promise instead.
Pitfalls of Overpromising
Your potential clients know that problems can arise for all sorts of reasons. If you promise that nothing will go wrong, they may (rightly) be skeptical of your whole offer. If you’re not being upfront with them before they sign on with you, how can they trust you’ll be honest with them throughout your working relationship? By providing realistic expectations, you’re more likely to gain the prospect’s respect and improve your chances of gaining a new client.
If they do accept your claim at face value, what happens when you can’t deliver 100% of what you offered? What happens when a problem comes up that’s beyond your control or theirs? If you set the client’s expectations too high, they will see you as an adversary who has failed them. If instead you establish yourself and the client as partners with realistic views of the relationship, you will be able to work together to sort out any difficulties you encounter.
What You Should Promise
When thinking about what you should promise your clients, it’s hard to beat the golden rule: Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Three key values form the basis of our relationship with our clients — transparency, honesty, and communication.
Transparency. Keep clients up to date on the status of their requests, costs, service expectations, etc. Every client wants to know that their needs are being fulfilled, regardless of the size and scope. If they’re left waiting and wondering, they may seek another way to fulfill what they need.
Honesty. Be upfront with clients when any issues arise. It’s always best to address potential problems early, while they’re easier to solve and there is more time to seek solutions. Clients will respect your honesty and your good-faith efforts to find workarounds.
Communication. Good communication ties together both respected qualities of transparency and honesty. Make sure your clients hear from you regularly so they’ll know their business is important to you. Don’t wait until there is a problem to pick up the phone or send an email.
How to Back Up Your Promises
It’s all well and good to give your potential client assurances, but how can you show them you’ll deliver?
Point to company history: Share the story about how your company came to be and how you’ve grown. Describe your company’s mission and values and how they drive relationships with your clients.
Share positive reviews and references: Give the client concrete examples of successes you’ve had serving clients with similar needs. Offer contact information (with permission, of course) of individuals who’ve been pleased with your services.
Talk about how you’ve handled problems: Explain how you’ve worked through difficult situations. Be honest about how you’ve delivered on promises made even when problems arose.
Highlight your company’s advantages: Remind the client you have dedicated managers nearby to work through issues, not just faraway tech reps connected only by internet work platforms, chatrooms and emails.
Focusing on building long-term relationships with clients will grow your business better than pursuing one quick deal after another. Clients value trust and respect, and you can build those with them by setting realistic expectations and delivering on them. Working with transparency, honesty and communication will go a long way toward earning you the loyalty of your clients.