Sales coaching asks questions of the salesperson to help them to improve their understanding of the opportunity and sometimes the understanding isn’t so much about ‘are we outgunned by the competition’, or ‘are we in a poor negotiating position’, but about whether we can deliver on the business benefits the prospective customer believes they’ll get.
Too high expectations could come about in a number of ways, say through vague, overblown marketing messages, or the salesperson being too optimistic about products, timescales, services or support that in reality are not fully justified. Once an assurance has been given, for whatever reason, it can be hard for the salesperson to back away from a promise and lose face.
Where the sales coach senses there may be unrealistic expectations, to get to the heart of a possible Red Flag commitment, the coach may ask questions like “Are their expectations realistic and achievable?” which may need to be fleshed out if the salesperson doesn’t give specific illustrations of what they are expecting and how these will be achieved. In that situation the sales cooach may need to move back to: “Tell me about the business benefits they’re expecting?”, which would eventually lead back to “Are these realistic and achievable”?. The conversation that ensues may satisfy the concerns of the coach and put the opportunity back on track.
However, if the sales coach still feels there are areas for concern, he will want the salesperson to think through the current opportunity and exactly what the prospective customer expects to get out of this purchase. The obvious question the sales coach could then ask is “Can we meet their expectations?” This should start to get to the heart of where the salesperson and the prospective customer are in terms of what is expected and what can be delivered and start to guide the salesperson to a more realistic view of what is possible.
To put everything into perspective for the salesperson regarding the current and any future similar situations, the sales coach can ask questions like: “What are the consequences for us if we can’t meet their expectations?”. This could lead onto a discussion of the possibilities of not meeting their expectations, which could range from a simple lost opportunity, the loss of reputation, protracted litigation, or even the loss of the salesperson’s job.
The sales coach could simply tell the salesperson what is required, but guiding them through the thought process should bring the salesperson to their own realization of the consequences that can flow from overblown and unmet expectations.