Under Promise Over Deliver

May 31, 2022

This one principle has had as much to do with my success in business and life as anything else.  On the one hand, I have learned the hard lessons of overpromising and underdelivering.  In my younger days, when my “ego wrote checks my body couldn’t cash” (Top Gun), I discovered the frustration and the doubts that came when you didn’t live up to what you swore you could do.  It’s easy to make promises; it’s much harder to ensure they are kept.  On the other hand, as I have matured, I have had the pleasure of seeing the excitement in people’s eyes when I told them I could do something and then was able to do more than they anticipated.  That level of fulfillment is rarely forgotten and can impact your relationships for a long time.  So let’s break this principle down just a bit.




Under Promise

In a time when political promises seem to be endless, with seemingly no regard for the consequences when all the lights come on and the smoke fades,  good, well-intended people fall prey to smooth talkers who make you believe they can do what seems to be the impossible. When the impossible doesn’t happen, we are left with disappointment and eventually cynicism toward anyone who tries to do something positive.  But politicians aren’t the only ones guilty of making unrealistic promises. I’ve worked with more than a few salespeople who could persuade you to believe they would bring hundreds of people through your door with a single radio campaign. When only 50 people showed up, the client quickly concluded that radio doesn’t work.  That conclusion is reasonable based on the situation but not accurate.  Had the promise been more in line with reality, such as, I can guarantee that several hundred people will hear your message, and with a solid call to action, we can bring some people through your door.  Then the 50 people who did respond to the call were more in line with the expectation and therefore considered a success.

Over Deliver

This brings me to the next point.  Just because you underpromise does not mean you give less effort to creating success for the client.  I believe you should work harder to ensure that the results are over the top.  In this situation, you should create the campaign, write the commercial, and go the extra mile to bring those few hundred people to the event.  So the success for the client is far beyond the expe ted result.  It can and should be done for each and every client with whom you partner.  To over-deliver should be the standard of business, not the occasional exceptions.  Repeat that process time and time again, and you will create a reputation for being reliable and someone who can make things happen.  And believe me, that will pay big dividends.

This isn’t a complicated process, so why is this an issue?  It’s an ego problem.  We want other people to believe that we are that influential person when a lot of the time, we don’t think it ourselves, and we’re not sure if we can ever make anything happen at all.  But if we say that to our potential clients, they will never buy anything from us.  So we have to be confident, and with that, there can be an easy transition to an overinflated promise.  However, I have found that if I’m honest with the people I want to do business with and give them my sincere best effort, they have given me the chance to prove myself to them.  Now more than ever before, if you over-deliver, it will create loyalty that will last a long time.




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