People may doubt what you say; but they will believe what you do.
Lewis Cass, Military Office and Politician
One of the key components of any effective and successful salesperson-customer relationship is that goals or objectives should be agreed. In similar fashion, the commitments or promises that we make should also be discussed and agreed in the context of the planned goal. Doing so means both parties have ‘skin in the game’, and both parties have a set of actions which, when executed, should lead to a successful outcome.
A common mistake is not to discuss and agree these outcomes up front with a customer. It isn’t clear what the end goal is and why the actions, on either side, are contributing towards that goal. A lack of purpose results, as does a lack of ‘why’ and a lack of accountability; it therefore becomes too easy for the actions to fall by the wayside.
But in-keeping with the ethos of GO NAKED, then any goals or objectives should be shared, they should be discussed and a set of activities should be planned. We should be willing to take the risk of holding ourselves accountable, and in discussing and agreeing the desired outcomes we are making a conscious decision to take action towards them.
Another way of looking at this is that commitments shouldn’t be made in isolation. They should be part of an integrated approach in which each party is clear on both the outcome, the deliverables along the way, the responsibilities and the timelines. This greatly increases the chances of the actions being executed, as we are all bought into the ‘reasons why’.
And so it follows that, if you’re not going to do something immediately or within a given time frame, make that clear. One of the biggest causes of frustration is lack of communication on this subject. It has less to do with someone deliberately not doing something, and more with a lack of common understanding and agreement about the timelines by which something should be done. This links back to the need to discuss and agree desired outcomes.
Sometimes particular actions or activities carry more urgency with one person than they do with another. The difference in perception of importance, combined with different people being responsible for delivery, causes problems if not communicated effectively. So we have to discuss and agree desired outcomes linked to the overarching goals; we have to challenge assumptions and challenge what will really make the biggest difference; and we have to commit to them being done.
A common phrase is to ‘under-promise and over-deliver’, and if this works for you, fine. But it’s more about being clear as to who will do what and when.
Ultimately, you have to care and, in addition, you have to understand that perception is reality and that others will not make a distinction between your willingness and ability to deliver on your promises and ‘you’. It takes more time and emotional energy to repair a damaged relationship after a shirked commitment than it does to keep it. Keeping our word is not only about respecting others but about respecting ourselves too.
If you follow this, you’re holding yourself accountable to the most important person you can – you. When you have an agreed action to carry out, don’t just make it another ‘to do’ as part of a long and ever growing list. If you are committed to it, make it a ‘must do’.