Avoid Unrealistic Deadlines: Get Your Team and Your Clients on the Same Page

Getting an opportunity to provide a proposal is exciting stuff.  After all, you worked hard to make it past the gatekeeper and get some face-to-face time with the decision maker.

Bringing in information to create proposals can turn into major stumbling blocks for your team’s process if your client’s expectation and the team’s expectations don’t match. Repeatedly coming back to the office stating, “This needs to get back to the client asap!” is not an effective way to run a sales process.  Discovering a way for teams to balance internal expectations with the client’s expectations will help alleviate the ‘eat or be eaten’ mentality frequently associated with selling.  Keep in mind this mindset can be counterproductive in consultative selling environments.  Selling your expertise does not need to come with unrealistic deadlines.

So, what are some ways to align what’s said and done out in the field with your team’s internal process?  Here are some ideas to get everyone on the same page:

Ask what’s reasonable.

Sit down and discuss the current process(es).  What’s great about it?  What could be better?  What are the realistic expectations? Asking these questions will guide your team to uncover what’s best for the organization as a whole.

Have your lines ready.   

Teams should practice what they’re going to say to clients in regard to the turnaround time.  Everyone should be saying the same thing, with the same tone and cadence to match the company’s values.

  • When a client asks, “When can I expect a proposal back?”
  • Instead of saying, “We’ll have this back to you asap!”
  • Perhaps say, “When I get back to my office I’ll check with my team to see what our current turnaround time is for this scope and I’ll call you right away to let you know.”

A good client with whom you built trust will understand there’s a team behind the salesperson. A good client will also value that the company cares about their entire team and acknowledges everyone’s role.

Develop a standard practice.  

Analyze the past and present team output and capture the ebb and flow of the deliverables.  Are there specific seasons when you’re busier?  Are there specific scopes that take longer than others?  Gathering this data can help develop standard lead times for team production.   Having a sales team say, for example, “we can have this back to you in 3-5 business days” will set realistic expectations for the team and the client.

How do you approach unrealistic deadlines? Tell us in the comments below.

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