When you promise less than clients or recipients are asking for and reduce their expectations, you have room to maneuver and the freedom to deliver something different (not just more) than perhaps either you or the client was expecting. You can create and invent. This may serve clients better than what they had even considered possible at the beginning of your association. Remember, clients don’t usually know what they really want, so don’t let yourself get too tightly boxed in.
Be sure to give clients what they paid you for, but don’t stop there. You need to build a reserve or a gap, between what you promise and what you ultimately deliver. The wider the gap, the more vacuum you’ll create and the more people will be affected or surprised by you. The more pleasantly surprised people are, the more their voices will sing your praises.
Why Do You Make Promises?
Are you constantly in a promise and deliver mode? Some people feel that if they don’t or can’t promise, they won’t have the motivation or structure to deliver consistently. This turns promises into deadlines so that keeping your word becomes necessary. Of course, you should keep your word, but most people give it too readily. Some of the people you know might think they need you to make promises, creating a dependency. This type of promise and deliver system will cause you grief. You’ve got to stop promising anything at all and end your performance anxiety. Promising less provides freedom and begins progress.
Promise For Pleasure
Some people are so relieved when they deliver something that most of their joy comes from the delivery instead of the creation of what they delivered. Some people can enjoy both the doing and the delivery. You need to discover both what’s motivating you after you made the initial promise and how you feel throughout the project.
You may produce greatly under the pressure of deadlines, but you may come to the realization that the personal and opportunity cost of doing so is far higher than the rewards or results generated.
Don’t Promise, Just Deliver
Rather than telling people what you can do for them, rather than getting people interested enough to say yes, just be spontaneous and do something for them, without even offering to do it first. Most people enjoy surprises and there’s no delay or performance anxiety because there was no promise, just delivery.
Deliver Something Different
Add a twist or an additional component to what the client expected. Don’t just deliver 11 apples instead of 10, but toss in an orange too. The orange is something to surprise them with, but you haven’t given them less apples. Perhaps the client will be fascinated by the orange and that can lead to your next piece of work.
Deliver All That Occurs
While you deliver the product or service, you may stumble upon something surprising about either the client, the product or service, or the situation the client is in. It may be totally unrelated to what you’re being paid to deliver, but usually it makes sense to advise clients what you discovered so they become fully informed. These “chance” discoveries can lead to additional work or end up being worth more to the client than the project they paid you to deliver. Don’t push what you discover; just casually advise clients of it.
Everything means you can create a bigger solution or product instead of just delivering what the client asked for. When you focus on delivering everything, you create more, and evolve both your skill set and the client. In this way, both of you progress instead of just getting current needs met. Make sure to always deliver what the client asked for, but orient what you’re working on for clients so that it brings them (and you) to the next level.
Have enough reserve to do all of these things, but do them with such grace and style that your grace and style become as much a part of your service or product as what you’re delivering. When you focus on delivering because you enjoy it, instead of delivering because you promised to, you are fed by joy instead of fear. You’re working from reserve, instead of striving to meet targets.
Can you realistically promise nothing and still be successful? Yes, but you may need to start by underpromising and over-delivering. The gap between these two is pure profit – not just financially, but also in good reputation and self-esteem. People think more of you when you deliver far more (of what they want) than they were expecting. That gap starts people talking. If you delivered even the same amount, but had promised or over-promised it at the outset, the recipients would equally benefit, but they wouldn’t be as impressed and they wouldn’t talk about you. This is a key distinction for anyone in business who wants to build a strong reputation quickly.
Promise almost nothing to your clients (just enough to close the sale), but then begin the engine of over-delivering. Every time you over-deliver, you build up a reserve, of self-confidence, self-esteem, and referrals.
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