customer relationships




I was checking out the new bright, shiny object gym the other day and I asked the sales guy a pointed question:

If I come here regularly for two months, how much weight will I lose?

Fair question, right?

His answer surprised me.

“Weight loss,” he said, “has more to do with how much food you eat than with how much exercise you do. It’s the 80/20 rule.”


I was surprised by his candor and by the answer.

Now I had to make a decision: Do I want to bust my butt knowing that that hard work won’t really make a difference if I didn’t cut back on food.

I decided to reframe the question. Even though the exercise probably would not help me lose weight, it would help me increase my cardio. So I joined.

The key here is that the sales guy managed my expectations.

Imagine how upset I would have been in two months if I lost less weight than I thought I should have. That number, by the way, would have been based on thin air and not on facts. I would have set myself up for disappointment.

Do you do the same thing with your clients?

In my business, I always try to manage my new clients’ expectations. If they think they are going to be on the front page of the New York Times, create a press release that sells 10,000 copies of their book, or run an ad on Facebook that will let them retire tomorrow, I set them straight.

If they can deal with the realities of what a marketing campaign can do, based on their budget, their willingness to do the work and time limitations, the we have a deal.

I’ve had clients for more than 10 years who happily agree that that formula works for them. I’ve had other clients who leave after a month because they had unrealistic expectations of what PR and advertising can do; as well as unrealistic expectations of how much time they wanted to invest to make the system work.

Have you ever been disappointed because you had unrealistic expectations when you bought a product or service? Did you ask the right question to determine what you could expect?

Do you manage your new clients’ expectations so you can both have a positive experience?