You’re on one side of the table. Your potential customer is on the other side. Your job…the pitch.

You have this one in the bag.

You tell them all you can do, and your prospect is definitely impressed. They’re drawn in with each word. They see it – how you’ll benefit their organization.

You’re even ready for the questions and requests that come your way. “Yes, Mrs. Smith, as a matter of fact, we can do that. There would be a small increase in cost, but we definitely can work it into the package.” (It doesn’t really matter what the “it” is. You can handle it.)

Then it came in slow motion. That request that you’re not ready for. However, instead of being transparent, you confidently say, “Yes. We can do that too.”

Liar. You can’t. For one reason or another…you don’t have the time, the expertise, the technical know how, or other resources to get it done.  But you said “yes,” and now you’re stuck. And even worse, your reputation is on the line. If you aren’t able to deliver, you may be screwed.

How could you have prevented this?

Just say no. If you aren’t ready to handle the customer’s request, be honest. Tactfully, let them know you can’t deliver what they’re asking for. Even if you lose the potential customer, you’ll keep your integrity, and your organization’s reputation won’t be tainted. Remember…you’ll always be able to pitch to more clients.

He Who Over Promises & Under Delivers

Being overly ambitious results in over promising and under delivering. As stated earlier, this will result in a huge blemish on your organization’s reputation – especially if your organization is a repeat offender.

There are several options that you can take in order to avoid being one who makes promises in which you can’t deliver:

1. Say no. As stated before, if you can’t do it, just say no. This doesn’t mean you have to let the prospect walk away unfulfilled. It just means you may have to seek 3rd party assistance to get the job done.

2. Be realistic with yourself. Know what you can do and what you can’t. Make sure you’re realistic about what’s on your plate, your skills, your resources, and what the amount of time it takes to complete what’s being requested.

3. Set customer expectations. Communicate timelines and needs in advance. Then continue communicating throughout the execution. Give status updates, communicate roadblocks and definitely give your customers opportunities to provide feedback.  Remember, you are in a partnership with your customer, and great  partnerships result from effective communication.

4. Be open to constructive criticism. Maybe you think you’re delivering effectively. However, your customer base doesn’t. Give them a chance to let you know. Allow your customer to give you feedback, both while you’re in teh process of completing a project

5. Obtain necessary skills or resources. If you find you are low on time or missing a certain skill or expertise, outsource the parts of the project in which you need help. If you’re budget doesn’t allow this, it will be better to say no than to get into a pinch. ~ On the other hand, if you’re simply need to enhance skills – such as presentation skills, design, writing, etc. – get training. Consult or hire an expert or seek out the proper education to help with development.

Reach for the Stars…

We’ve all heard this – and it’s not bad in theory. We all have goals. And this is great. However, if you’re ill-prepared, you will get burned. So, before you have to stop, drop and roll, make sure you have the skills and resources necessary to prevent unwanted blazes from down yonder.

Live, love & proser,


  1. […] The Danger of Being Overly Ambitious « Regina R. Patterson, M.B.A.Jan 16, 2012 … About Regina Patterson Years of marketing and online experience – along with wit and a sense of humor – I bring marketing and online content … […]

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