You can't build trust with broken promises, and you can't secure an investment with them either.
For those of you who believe you’re already an ace expectation manager, I want to challenge you to keep track of the various ways you are either setting yourself up for success (or failure) in each day.
It’s easy to recognize the big ones when you are in a fundraising process. You’ll find yourself saying things like…
“We should have a term sheet by the end of the month.”
“We’re just about to sign our first customer.”
“The product is scheduled to launch at the end of the quarter.”
Depending on who you are talking to and the speed at which they are making an investment decision (some will simply wait), your potential investor should easily be able to determine whether you’ve achieved these milestones.
But take your analysis to the next level. How often do you say something like…
“I’ll get you that by the end of the day.”
“I’ll call you right after this meeting.”
Do you do it?
Identifying Opportunities to Exceed
We all share these micro-promises (perhaps without thinking) many times a day. Every promise you make leaves a trail of evidence that either reinforces you can either consistently achieve or not. Your angel prospects may be doing this accounting without even thinking about it. At Groove Capital, I’ve trained my team to look and listen for this. You may be surprised by how much it comes up in our diligence conversations.
You may be one of the special ones who uses digital or analog lists, pausing to document every obligation. Nice job. That helps. At the very best, this method will only help you meet expectations which separates you from 90 percent of the pack.
The true Jedi mind trick in sales follow-through is to get in the habit of exceeding every expectation. This is incredibly rare and sounds impossible, right? Not so fast.
Setting Realistic Expectations
You used to say this: “The product is scheduled to launch at the end of the quarter.”
Here, you hoped that your team was on schedule and was capable of hitting an important deadline. They then barely completed the sprint, you caught a few bugs, and you shipped an update to your potential investor a week late.
Now you say: “The product is scheduled to launch at the end of the year.”
Here, you do a bit of back-of-the-napkin math. My team told me the end of the quarter, so I’ll say the end of year to buy myself some wiggle room. My team delivers slightly late, but I ship an update to my investor sharing the great news that my all-star developers delivered a fully-functional product ahead of schedule.
You used to say this: “I’ll get you that by the end of the day.”
Then, you got too busy with other deadlines, and didn’t follow up with a simple deliverable until two days after you said it would be done.
Now you say: “I’ll get you that by the end of the week.”
You deliver it a couple days early, even though a bunch of other more pressing items fell on your lap in the meantime.
Send the Signals
Raising money for your startup is a sales process, and the secret to any great salesperson is follow through. By consistently demonstrating you will do what you say you’re going to do, you’re regularly reminding people you are trustworthy and capable. It’s as simple as that. And as hard.
With every signal you send, you want to be building trust. And if you want to build trust, simply do what you say you’re going to do.