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What to do when your sales team overpromises to a customer

So the sales team should’ve said “NO”, but ended up saying “YES!”. What now?
October 6, 2021
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There are times when the sales team should’ve said “NO”, but ended up saying “YES!” just to get a deal closed. But overpromising puts your business relationship in a risky position.

And the worst outcome is the customer implementation team being unable to deliver the expectations on time, leading to dissatisfaction or even churn.

What can you and your team do to handle or avoid such predicaments?

To prevent these problems, you must have processes and procedures around these situations if your sales team accidentally or intentionally overpromise. In this blog, Preflighters provide practical solutions to prevent sales from overpromising to your customer. 

Deepa Vembu, Senior Director - CX, Zoominfo

Imagine you’re watering a potted plant. If you pour an excess amount of water, then the roots will rot. If you didn’t care for the plant, then it would wither. Similarly, excessive preparation might expand the sales cycle, hindering the deal closure or even leading to a no-sale situation. Not preparing to deliver on expectations that have been set leads to churn.

To balance this, bring the CS team into the sales cycle for certain types of large, complex deals or for the deals that need a robust handover from Sales to CS. 

Shivani Naveen, Senior Lead Engineer - BORN Group

  1. Involve your customer and stakeholders in Steering Committee Meetings to share the project status.
  2. Be transparent with the client when something is sold that doesn’t exist.
  3. Share an end-to-end plan on how you’re going to execute the project, ensuring that they get what was sold although it’s currently unavailable.
  4. Empathize and share alternative solutions that are dominant in the market.
  5. 3E’s - Engage, Empower and Educate the customer about the impact this can create on ROI.
  6. Based on your industry, involve product leaders during the pre-sales process. 

Apoorva Sudarshan, Manager - Strategic Accounts - Mixpanel

There are two ways to address this:

1. Before the deal is closed, arrange for a technical vetting by the post-sales leader. Get them to look at the customer's current tech stack and if your solution is a good fit for them. Summarize the findings in a document.

2. Send a scoping form including what's been promised along with highlighted product gaps to the customer. The customer must acknowledge it before signing the contract.

Srikrishnan Ganesan, Co-founder - Rocketlane

Have a Technical Advisory Council (TAC) team for your company which includes  pre-sales leaders, engineering leaders, solution architects, and product heads. If there’s any large deal needing a lot of customization or effort from Delivery, then the TAC gets a heads up on the solution before it is proposed so that they can solve if there is an issue. 

Abhishek Paliwal, Senior Solutions Engineer - Freshworks

Having a TAC team is useful in case of larger deals, where a PM/EM along with the onboarding specialist, presales lead, SE, and AM are involved in a rigorous vetting process to prevent scope creep.

Additionally, make a note of grey areas where problems can be anticipated. For instance, custom apps and third party integrations.

The TAC team must have a few meetings with the customer so that all details and risk areas are identified beforehand, and it's never just the sales guy overpromising the technical scope.

Having an open line of communication with the client team is crucial in order to reach business value driven compromises, in case scope creep comes up.

Alexander Scholz, Partner Enablement Lead - Freshworks

If you’re a CEO/CRO/COO who has the power to establish a process, do incentivize the AEs to keep them interested in the long-term success of the customer. For example, if the customer churns within 90 days, then the AE loses “x” amount of his payout for this customer.

If you have any additional strategies you want to share, we’d love to have you join Preflight Community and share it with our members!

More resources

  1. Implementation Stories
  2. Preflight Conversations
  3. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding
  4. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane

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Mohana Valli Prabhakar
Marketing Analyst @ Rocketlane & Community Manager, Preflight

Introverted, but willing to discuss books. Follow me on Twitter @Mohanavalli96

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