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It’s Not The Commitments We Make, It’s Those That We Keep

by David Brock on October 4th, 2012

Sales people are always making commitments.  “We can solve your problems!”  “We absolutely can meet your schedules?”  “We have no problems meeting your terms.”  “I’ll have an answer to that by……”  “I’ll be there Friday at 9:30 am…….”

The problem we have is not making commitments, it’s keeping them.  In fact, as I speak with customers, the key differentiator they see is this ability to keep commitments.  From the point of view of the customer, the ability of the sales person to meet commitments–no matter how small, is a reflection of the ability of their company to meet commitments.  So if you aren’t meeting your commitments, you are destroying your credibility, you are eroding trust, and you are reducing your ability to win.

I’ve been reflecting on this issue and decided to start a simple list.  Please add to these:

  1. The number of commitments you make is unimportant, it’s about the quality of the commitment.  Make fewer, but higher quality commitments.
  2. In making commitments, you are setting the expectation of the person you are making the commitment to.
  3. Every commitment counts, there are no “do-overs.”  If you don’t meet a commitment, you have failed the person you made the commitment to.
  4. If you commit to being at a meeting, be there!  This means, be on time, be prepared, be present.
  5. If you commit to call someone at a certain time, call at that time—not five minutes later.  (My clients joke with me, they claim they can set their watches by the times the phone rings with a call from me)
  6. If you commit to get something to someone (internally, to a customer, to someone in the community), make sure you do it.
  7. If you find you cannot meet a commitment you have made, let the person know immediately, don’t ignore it.  Explain why, if you need to  ask for more time or explore alternatives.   Above all, make sure they understand.
  8. We are all human, if you miss a commitment you made, acknowledge it immediately, apologize, don’t make excuses, then meet the commitment you made.
  9. If someone has missed a commitment made to you, acknowledges it, apologizes, makes no excuses, give them the chance to reset and make that commitment.
  10. The commitments we make are a reflection of who we are.  Do you want to be perceived as a person is not trust worthy?
  11. The commitments we make are a reflection of the organizations we represent.

That’s a start—have I forgotten anything?

By the way, these don’t apply only to our customers, they apply to every commitment we make to everyone–our teams, our people, our managers, our organizations, our families, our friends, our communities, and most importantly—to ourselves.

From → Performance

  1. Excellent article. And I wholeheartedly agree with your final point: meeting commitments is important in every aspect of life.

    This is a value that is central to the C for Character in the 4 Cs of Credit in finance. No contracts will save you from someone without integrity, who will walk away from his/her obligations if he/she can wriggle out of it.

  2. Dave,

    I’d add there is no excuse for missing a commitment. Example: the difference between being on time and being late has nothing to do with what time you get there – it’s all about what time you said you’d be there. If you set the time, no excuse for not being there.


    • I couldn’t agree more Andy. Somehow there seems to be a feeling that missing small commitments is OK, but you can’t miss the big commitments. Missing a commitment is missing a commitment. There are no excuses.

  3. Great summary on commitments! I’d like to add one thought: Be aware what a specific commitment means for the other person.
    Outside-inthinking can help us all the time 😉

  4. This is a keeper

  5. Dave, great post! It immediately reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry goes to the rental car counter at an airport and they don’t have a car for him despite his prior reservation. He tells them they’re good at MAKING the reservation but not so good at KEEPING the reservation (or something like that) 😉

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