Sales Management: The Pitfalls of Unmet Expectations


In the realm of sales and sales management, building and maintaining customer relationships is paramount. It’s a delicate dance between promises made and expectations met. In this sales management article, we present a tale of an afterlife choice between heaven and hell, and along the way find a profound lesson that mirrors the pitfalls many businesses face in their sales management strategies.

This is the tale of a man who, upon passing away, finds himself at the pearly gates of Saint Peter. In an unprecedented situation, Saint Peter expresses uncertainty about the man’s destination – whether it should be heaven or hell. To resolve the dilemma, Saint Peter offers a unique proposition: the man can visit both places briefly and return the next day with his final decision. With a snap of his fingers, Saint Peter transports the man to hell.

The devil’s deceptive charm
The devil in our story represents the alluring pitch of a salesperson. He welcomes the man with a warm smile, showing genuine interest in his life and preferences. The devil’s pitch is so convincing that the man is enticed to explore hell, believing it to be the most amazing place for him to spend eternity. This scenario parallels the initial stages of a customer relationship, where promises and assurances are made to captivate the customer’s interest.

Heaven’s tranquil disappointment
On the other side of the spectrum is heaven, where the man finds a serene environment filled with people engaged in tranquil activities. However, the initial allure quickly fades as boredom sets in. The unmet expectation of excitement and fulfilment leads the man back to reconsider his choice. This mirrors the disappointment customers face when the reality of the product or service falls short of the promised experience.

The crucial role of expectations
Saint Peter plays a pivotal role by giving the man time to reflect on his decision. This pause is analogous to the post-sales phase where customers evaluate their experiences. The man’s shift from heaven to hell is not due to the devil’s malevolence but because the promises made were not upheld. The devil’s smile turns into a harsh reality, a metaphor for customers realising that they are now just another transaction.

The customer journey
In sales management, understanding the customer journey is crucial. From the initial interaction to the post-sales phase, each touchpoint shapes the customer’s perception. The devil’s pitch was flawless during the prospecting stage, but the transition to a customer brought forth an entirely different reality. This stark contrast emphasises the need for consistent delivery on promises throughout the entire customer journey.

The cost of unmet expectations
The devil’s transformation from a charming host to a tormentor illustrates the cost of unmet expectations. When businesses fail to deliver what was promised, customers feel betrayed and disillusioned. This leads to dissatisfaction, negative reviews, and, ultimately, customer churn. The devil’s response, “Yesterday you were my prospect, today you are my customer”, underscores the critical importance of delivering on promises even after the sale is made.

The story of the man choosing between heaven and hell serves as a cautionary tale for sales management. Businesses must recognise that customer relationships extend beyond the initial sale. It is the consistent fulfilment of promises and the delivery of exceptional experiences that determine whether a customer remains in heaven or descends into the fiery depths of disappointment. By understanding and meeting customer expectations at every stage of the journey, businesses can build lasting relationships and ensure their customers choose heaven over hell in the world of commerce.

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