One of the clichés we throw around a lot in sales is “don’t make promises you can’t keep.” It’s important to remember, though, there’s also a team behind those promises.  

In this three-part series on Sales Leadership, I talk about the Three Pillars of Sales Leadership at Ignite. Part two: Don’t make promises your team can’t keep.     

Set expectations that your team can live up to.” 

When we talk about making promises and keeping promises, I think that comes down to managing customer expectations. Don’t set expectations your team has to scramble to meet – set expectations you know your team can achieve and align those expectations with the customer’s expectations.  

“Don’t promise the world if you can only deliver the water.” 

The earth’s surface is 71% water. That’s quite a lot, right? It’s ok to level with your customer if you can’t meet 100% of their ask. The trick is to identify those expectations. If the expectations don’t align, find out where the gaps are and propose solutions to remediate or close those gaps. Sometimes that means a phased approach or a longer timeline to get the customer where they want to be. Sometimes it means bringing in a partner 

When you give it to the customer straight, and you go in with honest dialogue and solutions – you build trust immediately. Then, the customer knows they can rely on you to deliver what you say you can deliver.    

Check your ego at the door.      

As a sales professional make sure you are setting a corporate expectationnot a personal one. Bring in your team. Whether it’s engineering, operations or marketing, the internal stakeholders involved in your promise to the customer need to be part of the equation. 

When you don’t involve the team in setting those expectations with customers, you risk burning a lot of bridges and hurting your career in the long run. Not to mention letting the customer down.   

It’s not don’t make promises YOU can’t keep – it’s don’t make promises your TEAM can’t keep. You aren’t alone – let your team help you craft a solution for the customer that meets the need and reflects the reality of what the team can, or can’t, provide. 

Stay tuned for my third and final article of this three-part series on sales leadership, where I dig into the lost art of communication.   


~Greg Masniuk – National Sales Director, Ignite Collaboration