Keeping Commitments: Why Follow Up and Follow Through Make or Break Opportunities

You said it. You meant every word, and you had every intention of doing what you said that you would do. The task that you told your dream client that you would complete isn’t anything earth shattering, and in the big scheme of things, isn’t really all that important. It’s no big deal that you haven’t followed up or followed through.

You would be wrong in thinking or behaving as if the above were true. In your dream client’s mind, you made a commitment; you made a promise.

What Your Commitments Mean: A Look Into the Future

You are being measured. Your dream client is measuring your actions against your words. This isn’t so much a moral judgment, and your dream client isn’t (often) trying to play a game of “gotcha!”

Your dream client is keeping score because your ability to keep your commitments, following up and following through on your word, is the single best indication as to what they should expect from you regarding future commitments.

If you commit to doing something, to taking some action, and then you don’t follow up or follow through, your dream client will come to believe that they should also expect that you will not keep your future commitments—commitments that become much more critical once they are your client.

Failing to keep your commitments, large or small, will cause your dream client to question whether or not you can be trusted. And without trust, your opportunity is lost.

What Your Commitments Mean: How Much You Care

For months—or maybe years—you have nurtured relationships with your dream client and contacts deep within their company. Over time, you have consistently expressed how important an opportunity to serve your dream client company is to you, and that you can be trusted to do jaw-dropping, breath-taking work with them. Now that you have gotten in, you have started to ask them for information and access, and they have started to ask you for things, too.

Failing to keep you commitments is indication that you don’t care about your dream client, their time, or their outcomes.

Many of your dream clients know this story. It goes like this: attention, attention, attention, heavy lifting of execution, lack of attention and follow through. It’s easy to talk the talk when it comes to executing and keeping commitments; it’s much more difficult to walk the walk.

A big part of trust is caring enough to ensure that  someone else gets the outcome they needed and expected. If your dream client doesn’t recognize that you care by your actions, then your opportunity is lost.

What’s At Stake: More Than Your Opportunity

Honesty and integrity are table stakes. If you are dishonest or you lack integrity, you are not going to have or win opportunities. But what is at stake is more than your opportunity.

What are at stake are your reputation and your character. Heavy stuff, no doubt. But this is, ultimately, the whole game.

A Way Out

Not to worry, there is a way out: it is called renegotiating commitments.

Your dream clients and your clients know that life sometimes gets in the way of your best intentions—they are every bit as overcommitted and overwhelmed as are you.

I have written about renegotiating commitments here. It starts with calling so your dream client knows that you can be trusted and that you care. Then, you have to make arrangements and agreements as to when you can and will keep your commitments. This is true whether the commitment was large or small, important or not important, urgent or not urgent.

Your dream client is keeping score. You should be keeping your own score; this means keeping track of your commitments and their completion.

Questions

Why is it critical to keep your commitments even when they are relatively minor commitments?

What methods do you use to capture your commitments to your dream clients, great and small? How do you prevent things from slipping through the cracks when life comes crashing down around your intentions?

When someone fails to keep a commitment they have made to you, what do you believe about their ability and their willingness to keep future commitments? What does their failure do to your ability to trust them?

When someone fails to keep a commitment they have made to you, what do you believe about how much they care about you? What does their failure do your ability to trust that they care enough about you?

Why is trust critical to sales? How do you personally engender the trust that builds relationships?

The need to renegotiate commitments is inevitable. How do you go about renegotiating those commitments in a way that builds trust instead of destroying it?

Comments

comments

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  • http://velocidi.com margaret molloy

    Great reminder of the importance of keeping promises. Our word is an important currency, when spent well the rewards are many.

  • http://www.SalesforceAssessments.com Brian Jeffrey

    Salespeople don’t see themselves as “breaking promises” because they don’t think that make any promises. They forget about “perceived promises” on the part of the prospect. In addition, we sometimes set ourselves up for failure.

    To tell someone that you will “get right back to them,” and them take a day to do so, can cause a broken perceived promise as we didn’t define a time-line for “right back.” If we had said I’ll get back to you tomorrow, then an expectation has been set for both parties.

    We need to learn to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.