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How over-promising can damage your business

Studies show that you shouldn’t share your goals before you’ve accomplished them: the rush of people admiring what you’re setting out to achieve can be enough to zap your motivation right in the bud. In the same vein, it doesn’t make too much sense to regal your customers with grand tales of all the things you’re going to deliver, especially if you haven’t worked out all the kinks yet.

If you promise customers certain things, they’ll be expecting those things: and failing to meet those expectations can be stressful for everyone involved. Here are some of the main reasons you should always strive to under promise and over deliver, and how you can do so.

Overpromising is only a temporary high.

Instinctively, many of us want to make other people happy. So when it comes to selling products and services, or closing sales, many of us are apt to exaggerate exactly how good a customers experience will be, and what kind of expectations they can have.

But if you constantly talk up your products and fail to deliver, you’ll end up losing their trust – which will damage your reputation, income, and business.

It’s much better to be honest about the positives and negatives of your products: honesty is always the best policy when it comes to managing expectations. This doesn’t mean you need to highlight every flaw a customer might encounter, but it does mean being realistic.

Know your product.

Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to have transparent conversations with customers and clients if you don’t truly know your product and your margins. If you’re unaware of exactly what all of your teammates are doing, you may be unwittingly making promises that simply aren’t attainable, or which will cost too much to execute.

To ensure you don’t let down your customers or your team, it’s better to gather as much information as you can before having any sales conversations: there’s nothing worse than promising a price or feature and then having to loop back around to retract that promise.

Know your industry.

If the average price of a product in your industry is $10, you don’t need to sell it for $5 – sometimes, a lack of industry knowledge can result in us making claims and promises which simply aren’t sustainable.

Many entrepreneurs begin businesses based on assumption rather than experience and knowledge, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can result in business owners making promises which don’t really benefit customers. Having a fuller understanding of the industry within which your business is situated can help you better manage expectations.

Knowing your industry, business, budget and customers can help you make appropriate promises and manage expectations - resulting in better customer trust and more repeat sales. While overpromising and exaggerating your products and services can make you feel good in the short run, it’ll end up in broken promises and a poor reputation.

- Lena Klein

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