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We Got It Wrong: Never Under Promise & Over Deliver
You know how it is, you believe something for so long, everyone agrees with you, all the books tell you it's true and then suddenly you have a blinding revelation - we've all been duped! You know like my gorilla mates were? (If you're not sure about my gorilla mates then you really need to read the book - we've got a great offer on at the moment!)
And you feel such a chump - how did I ever fall for that - the logic just isn't there - I must have been a fool. Let me explain.
"Under Promise & Over Deliver"
You know the old saying "Under Promise & Over Deliver"? - well, here's the idea behind it.
Buyers these days are ever more ready to complain when something isn't to their liking (yes, even in the UK!) Customers are prepared to walk if you don't deliver when you said you would. Clients are mobile and promiscuous and will change supplier if they can get better service.
So in order to meet these demands, for the last 20 years or so, we've all been applying the mantra "Under Promise & Over Deliver" - for example, tell them the job that'll take 10 days will take 12 and then wow them when you deliver ahead of schedule.
Now, in theory this sounds great - your client can't fail to be impressed at your over delivery! Or can they?
Now, think about it for a little longer. Mr client comes along and you promise to deliver the project by 2pm on Tuesday, even though you know you can get it finished by Friday. Hey, that gives you the weekend to reflect, Monday morning to add the polish and you can deliver it on Monday afternoon. A great under-promised and over-delivered job! But what actually happens?
The client is delighted - you delivered a day early. But then Mr Client has a few fleeting thoughts; did this mean it wasn't such a complicated project as you'd said? Or could you have actually got it finished by Friday? Perhaps you've over charged him?
Because he's happy you did what you said and within the time scale, he pushes his doubts to the back of his mind.
However, the client now learns to "expect" (that's his job) the service you created in your fantastic under promised way. So, he gives you another project. You give him a timescale and price, again under-promising so you can confidently over deliver with a big smile on your face. The client remembers his thoughts from the last project and asks you to "try a bit harder" on the timescale. You do, because hey, you like the guy. He was really grateful last time.
And so, the next time Mr Client asks you to do something he expects it to be done as fast and efficient and for the same price as before - now he won't be impressed by your over-delivery - this is just his expectation.
And sadly, when you deliver on time and in budget, Mr Client wonders why it took so long. He wonders if he pushed a little harder he could get your price down or your timescale shortened. And he pushes, and he pushes...
You've taught your client that you can do it faster than you've told him. The doubts are there. He wonders if you've lied to him! The shame of it!
And what happens if something goes wrong - if you can't deliver in the real timescale - or the price escalates? Or someone lets you down, or the goalposts change?
Now, the issues are a little more wide ranging than the example above.
Some of our clients are even saying that these days in order to get a chance of winning work they have to make big promises (and then work out how to deliver on them ;-)
Quite often the client needs to do her bit to make the project run well - and she'll have her own clients and other things to do!
Increasingly, you're not working on a project in isolation, there may be other suppliers in the equation
This can all lead to dissatisfaction for everyone involved.
So, What's The Answer
Well, taking everything into account, you still need to make promises to your customers, but the answer is in the details. The answer lies in understanding what's important to the client and working with the client to make sure that you can deliver on that. Then over deliver on something you have complete control over.
In our course "Coaches Can!" we talk about the difference between control and influence.
So before I let you into our secret, I'd just like to clarify the difference between Control & Influence. To me, misunderstanding the difference between that which you can control and that which you can merely influence is the biggest reason for client disappointment and feelings of failure.
Control VS Influence (Outcomes and Intentions)
That which is beyond your immediate and complete manipulation is not, whether we like it or not, within our control. So what is within our control?
* Our Emotions and Motivation (although not all of us accept this)
* Our Response To Outside Influences (although not all of us accept this either)
* The Direction We Take In Life
* Every Action We Take
* The Way We Communicate
* What We Say and Do and Promise
* What We Choose To Believe or Ignore
* Inanimate Objects & Tools We Use
Everything else that is outside of us (especially other animals/humans) we can only influence. Here are some examples of things you can only influence...
* Whether Someone Likes You
* Whether People Will Buy
* What Other People Find Important
* Whether People Believe You
* Convincing Someone of Something
* Getting Someone to Do Something (even if you're a hypnotist)
Sure, you can exert enough influence that it seems like control. If someone held a gun to your head, they could probably influence you to do a lot of things. But despite that, they couldn't get you to think different things or feel differently about something because they still only have influence.
Finally, there are some things we have no direct control or influence over... such as the weather, space, time, where we start out in life, but there's no benefit dwelling on the things we cannot do - because it's more empowering to focus on what we can do.
You cannot control how your clients feel, but you can influence this. You need to concentrate on explaining the value, rather than the cost. Understanding their real requirements, rather than the standard trotted out time and budget ones. You need to work out what you are in control of and what you can merely influence. And then you need to Over Promise & Deliver on the Promise on those things that are in your control.
'Dangerous' Debbie Jenkins
(c) Copyright 2005 www.BookShaker.com
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