Customer expectations, in the field of sales, refer to the solution that the customer thinks can solve his problem. Generally, it is the overall customer’s requirements for suppliers, which usually include price, quality, service, delivery capability, financial capability… and so on.
Customer Expectation Examples
- If you are thirsty. This is a problem. You think the solution to this problem is to buy a bottle of water. At this time, water is what you expect.
- If you feel poor. This is a problem. You think the solution to this problem is to change the company. So changing a job is your expectation.
- If the market competition of your product is fierce. This is a problem. You think the solution is to develop a higher quality product, at this time, to manufacture a high-quality product is your expectation.
However, the expectation is not equal to demand, meaning that the customer thinks that a certain solution can solve his problem, but really?
From the above example 3#, you think that the low salary is mainly because the company is too small, and you reckon that change a company can solve the “poor” problem. But is there any possibility, because you’re incompetent for the job? If this is the case, it may not make sense if you change the company with the same job.
Know Your Customer Expectation and Then Proceed Further Sales Work
When a customer sends you an inquiry, telling you that he needs XX products with XX model XX specifications and XX functions, this may not his demand at the moment, but only expresses his expectations.
Therefore, as a sales, it is recommended to do three steps first before quote the price.
Step 1#: Identify Customer Expectation
It is suggested to ask a “why” after the customer has initially established trust with you. Building trust with customers is very important, otherwise the customer may not answer your questions. For example, you can ask:
- “Can you please tell me why do you need this product? May I know the purpose?”
- “Why do you think this can solve your problem?
Step 2#: Confirm with the customer whether the expectations are true and objective
That is to say, we should learn whether the customer’s expectations can really solve his existing problems. If not, then we need to guide customer’s expectations.
It does not mean that we can directly say “your expectations/solutions are wrong” to the customer.
As it is difficult to change a customer’s expectation because, in his opinion, his view is correct. Expectation comes from the customer’s awareness, and the awareness based on a customer’s knowledge and experiences. If we point out the customer’s expectations are wrong, the sales work may become a debate; and the customer may be angry and go away.
In the field of scientific sales, “customer’s cognition is sales cognition”. If we argue with the customer about his wrong expectations, we use sales cognition to replace the customer’s cognition. This does not comply with the customer-oriented principle.
So we can only guide, and then let customers slowly correct their expectations by themselves in the process of guiding.
Step 3#: Confirm whether your products or solutions can meet the customer’s expectations.
When the customer’s expectation is air-conditioning, but you’re selling fans, it will not match. If cannot, either give up, influence/reshape customer expectations (conceptions).
Expectation Management Example
It’s time to grant year end bonuses, but the company cannot give the bonuses as agreed because the operating is not well. What’ll you do if you were the boss? Will you tell your employees directly that you cannot give enough bonuses?
A is the boss, his behavior may be different with you.
- First, he let his secretary released the news that the company suffered a serious loss this year and may have to lay off 20% of its staff.
- When everyone was in fear of losing the job, then he said to the public that loss is nothing. The company has only encountered some small difficulties, but no matter how difficult the company is, it will not fire employees, but the year end bonus has to be reduced.
Now everyone was cheered and grateful to the boss.
Why can we get a completely different result by changing the method? This is the role of expectation management. Happiness = reality – expectation. In the established reality, the lower the expectation, the higher the happiness.
Expectancy theory was proposed by the famous psychologist and behavioral scientist Victor Froom in 1964. He has a formula: Motivational Force (MF) = Expectancy x Valence.
- Motivational Force refers to the strength of motivating individual enthusiasm and stimulating the internal potential of the person.
- Expectancy is the degree of assurance of reaching the goal based on personal experience.
- Valence is the value of the attainable goal to meet individual needs.
The formula can be simplified as Motivation = Expectation x Value.
How to Manage Customer Expectations
In B2B sales, customer expectations can be managed in two ways, by providing valuable information and obeying the principle “not the higher expectations, the better” when setting expectations.
1. Provide Value Information
For example, when you receive an insurance sales call, if the sales say “Sir, do you need insurance?” I believe most of you will respond “no need” immediately.
Because buying insurance is to remove fear and avoid losing. The intention of buying insurance may only come to your mind in some special moments, such as hearing a sudden illness of a relative, or a sudden accident of a friend. At the moment (for example, at work), the value of buying insurance is almost zero, so there will be no motivation.
So that’s why most insurance salespersons start the conversation with “Our company wants to give you an insurance for free” instead of “Do you need insurance?” Only in this way can they quickly build their value in the customer’s minds, and then motivate the customers to continue to talk.
This is why we should bring valuable information when communicating with customers.
Instead of always asking “do you have an order?” or “when will you place the order?” Here are the three examples of valuable information you can talk about with customers:
- “The product you purchased in the last month has a discount price now.”
- “I just made an industry report, and would like to share it with you.”
- “I got some information about your competitors’ activities and new developments.”
2. Set Expectations: Not the Higher Expectations, the Better
If you are not sure of accomplishing a thing, even though it’ll be of high value to you, you may not have enough enthusiasm to do it.
For example, no matter how hard you work on a customer, when you hear this customer talk to your boss that he’ll not buy from your company, will you still spend time on this customer as before? Obviously no, this is the effect of expectation on motivation.
Sometimes customers ask you a question: “can we get a bigger price discount if we continue to talk?” If the possibility of this price discount cannot meet the customer’s budget, he will not have the motivation to continue to talk with you.
In order not to let customers go away, some sales set higher expectations and will often answer “it’s possible”. This is not a very good response, because you invisibly raise the expectations of customers. If finally, you can’t give the price discount as you agreed, you’ll make the customer distrust you and your company.
Therefore, it is not that the higher the expectations, the better.
Meanwhile, the motivation not only depends on the expectation. For example, if something you can do easily, its value to you may decrease, and your motivation may be lower.
Knowing customer’s expectations is important to your businesses. You may be out of the game if they can’t meet the customer’s expectations when the customer has too many alternatives. However, you can try to guide the customer’s cognition to meet with yours if possible.
Then in customer expectations management, providing valuable information and not promise that you cannot give when setting the expectations.