Selling the Dream - Living the Nightmare

Salesmen sell the dream. They understand that buying decisions are emotional decisions. The dream appeals to the buyer's emotions. So, they sell the dream to close the deal.

Unfortunately, salesmen frequently make promises that are nearly impossible to keep. Salesmen sell the dream in order to get their prospects to sign the deal. They don't want
to hear the pessimism of the operations staff on the company's ability to perform at the level sold.

You will hear a lot of lip service paid to under-promise and over-deliver. Funny, I can count on one hand the number of times I have been over-delivered. The last time it happened was 10 years ago when I bought my first iPod.

Standard practice is over promise, under deliver. That is not a winning approach. The goal of your business should be sell the dream, deliver the dream. Neither over promise nor under deliver.

By the way, that better be a two-way street with the customer. The client better be paying legitimately for the dream. That means paying more than lowest price. Promising great price with great service is the underlying cause of the Sell the Dream - Live the Nightmare problem.

Most salesmen forget that dreams cost money. Too often they include great price in the dream. Something akin to "Just sign here and you can have this Mercedes for the price of
a Kia. Who wouldn't want that?" Well, not the business owner who has to deliver the product or service, that's for sure.

Salesmen often complain that production people let their customers down. And they aren't entirely wrong. Production people often lose sight of the value of happy, loyal
customers. Too often they are clock watchers. Too often they ignore the plans and specs preferring to install the work as they feel is best.

Do salesmen oversell the service for too low of a price? Certainly.

Do field crews under deliver? Certainly.

What should you do to stop these issues? Hold their feet to the fire.

Coach the salesmen. Teach them how to align their promises and pricing. Jettison the ones who can't.

Express your expectations in clear and forceful terms to your field crews. They will perform their work in accordance with the plans and specs and/or in accordance with company standards - or else.

Salesmen get wrapped up in closing the deal. They get excited about the opportunity to please someone. They interpret a sale as validation of their likability. "They chose me over the other guy."

This motivation is at odds with everything you need out of your sales force. As owner motivations are directly driven by the desire to make money, they tend to be a company's
best, most profitable salesman (or woman). They don't sell a dream that can't be delivered. They know when the dream can't be delivered. They know how to explain why the dream costs so much and why the prospect shouldn't accept any price below a certain point.

Owners must learn how to transfer their attitude and perspective to their sales force. Salesmen need to think like owners. When they do, they stop giving away work that
is bound to disappoint the client and harm the company.

Construction workers are rather unique and special. They take great pride in their work. They get a charge out of leaving behind something tangible that represents their effort and skill. What they don't enjoy is being told to build something in a manner they disagree with regardless of whether the directions require excessive steps or insufficient steps. They seek to build what they believe is proper and appropriate. Their feelings are frequently in direct conflict with what the salesman sold.

Operations needs to accept the fact that projects have varying construction standards. They need to familiarize themselves which the standards for the project they are about to perform, as governed by the sales contract, and they need to produce the work accordingly. Neither better nor worse.

Contrary to the sales side of the business, owners frequently are their own worst enemy on the operations side. Owners typically are former craftsmen. They tend to be exacting in how they want things built - regardless of the drawings and specs. Owners need to first look in the mirror and figure out whether they are the root cause of the field crews failing to meet customer requirements.

Selling the dream and living the nightmare is a recipe for disaster. If that has been going on in your business, stop it now. Get your sales team and operations teamĀ on the same page. Get them embracing the value each brings to the table. You cannot afford to have sales and operations at each others throats nor viewing their success independently of one another. They have a shared destiny. Yours.