Tim Connor tells us to always exceed expectations.

Many salespeople make a lot of promises or benefit statements while trying to sell a new prospect or existing customer. The assumption these salespeople often erroneously make is that it is necessary to promise the world in order to close the sale. It is far better to leave the prospect with realistic, even low expectations that you can exceed, than setting unrealistically high expectations that may never happen. A key concept to keep in mind while selling: The close of the sale is not the end of the sales process, but the beginning of the sales relationship. If a sales relationship is based on consistent customer disappointments, you are setting yourself up for an unhappy customer and very little customer loyalty at best and a cancelled order at worst.

The purpose of the sales process is to discover how you can help a customer or prospect with a need, problem, desire or challenge, and then position your products or services in such a way that the customer discovers in his or her mind the value necessary in order to justify a purchase.

Remember, you set the price but the customer determines the value of your proposition. Once the sale has been closed and the prospect accepts your promises, commitments or features as ones that will benefit him or her, he or she now moves into a sort of limbo mode. They wait patiently to see if you meant all of that “sales stuff” that you said or whether you were just trying to close another deal and all of your sales statements were nothing more than empty promises.

One of the early sales lessons in my career was that it is less stressful, less time-consuming, less costly, easier and more fun to do more business with present clients than it is to keep trying to find and sell new ones. This doesn't mean you shouldn't always be looking for new business. What it implies is that your success will tend to come faster and easier with existing customers than new ones. Obviously you need both in your prospect funnel.

Effective, prompt and relevant after-sales service is the key to keeping sales closed and keeping customers satisfied. Your level and type of after-sales service often may be a test by the customer to see if you can or really intend to deliver on all of your commitments. If you don't, you are outta there; if you do, you earn their respect and trust.

One of the critical sales relationship keys is to promise a lot and deliver more. In other words, always exceed expectations. Poor salespeople continuously promise a lot and deliver less, or promise a little and deliver nothing. A few keys to effective after-sales service that can ensure repeat business, referrals and positive references:

1. Only promise what you can deliver.

2. Don't over-commit other departments or divisions just to get the sale.

3. Communicate regularly with new customers.

4. Keep in touch with your inactive customers.

5. Ask your new client how he would like you to service him.

6. Avoid quote ranges in dates, prices or other areas. You set up the relationship or disappointment when you do.

7. Communicate the commitments made to your customers to other departments that are affected.

8. Conduct an after-sales audit of the process and the customer's feelings, opinions, etc.

9. Write down promises and commitments made to the customer in a file somewhere.

10. Check with your customer to determine the level of performance of your organization or you from his or her perspective.

Remember, over-commitment generally produces under-delivery. Under-promising and over-delivering generally contributes to customer loyalty, trust and repeat business.