You just closed a huge deal; time to celebrate. Another buyer has decided that you da man. Time to cash the check and move on to the next opportunity.

Not so fast, Mr./Ms. Wonderful! You've neglected Rule #1 in marketing: Customer expectations begin just as your attentiveness begins to subside. Said another way: Just when you thought you had the customer wrapped up, some interesting, unanticipated and generally irritating phenomena kick-in.

  • Although a seller's infatuation with a buyer begins to wane after the sale, the buyer's expectations of the seller begin to increase after the sale.
  • Once a seller's instinct for the kill is completed, he moves on. Once a buyer has been captured, his judgment of the seller begins.
  • The seller naturally views closing the deal as consummating the relationship. The buyer views closing the deal as beginning the courtship.
  • Once the deal is done, the seller stops selling. Once the deal is done, the buyer keeps shopping.

The real business of selling begins after you have made the sale!

Some companies get it; others don't. Some real-life examples:

Chad Older of Washington, D.C. was flying over America on Southwest Airlines. His father-in-law called the carrier to ask that they inform Chad that his pregnant wife had just gone into labor – six weeks early.

When he landed to make his connection, an emissary from Southwest was waiting. She informed Chad of the situation and whisked him off to a gate so he could fly home in lieu of his original destination. The Southwest representative told Chad that the rebooked flight was full, but that they would bribe … rather, provide sufficient incentives … for a passenger to volunteer his seat. Despite Chad's insistence on paying for his new flight, they gave him the new ticket FOR FREE!

Once the family got their new baby home and things had returned to "normal," Chad wrote Southwest a thank-you note. They then sent his new baby a gift. Southwest gets it!

A personal story:

I had just bought a suit at Nordstom – a dark brown, spectacular looking Hart, Schaffner and Marx Gold Trumpeter.

It was the first time I had worn this suit and had just finished admiring myself in my bathroom mirror. Yes, I was lookin' good! Absorbed and distracted by my own studliness, I walked into my garage to get into my SUV and tore a sleeve on the rear windshield wiper. No one was around to blame. Curses!

I called my sales guy, Rudolph Ruiz, and asked him if there might be a way for their tailor to somehow reweave the material to make the tear less obvious. He asked me to bring the suit in for a look-see.

A few days later, I dropped off the suit. Nordstrom's tailor later determined that its condition was irrevocable. Rudolph called to tell me the bad news, adding that he had an alternative solution and asking me to stop in to discuss it. I wondered what he had in mind until I arrived at Nordstrom, and he unveiled a selection of suits from which he said I could pick a replacement FOR FREE!

I was speechless. Nordstrom had no complicity in my stupidity, and yet my sales guy volunteered a replacement, gratis! I considered the alternatives he had selected for me, which included several Hickey-Freemans, made my selection and got out before Rudolph changed his mind.

Nordstrom gets it!

Another personal but less complimentary story:

I was running a bit late, trying to catch a plane out of Dulles. Having just passed through security and about to board one of the shuttle buses to my gate, I realized that I had no idea which one I was going to, having forgotten to check the monitors before taking off my shoes, shedding my jewelry and unpacking my laptop to pass through the checkpoint.

I leaned back to one of the trusted employees of the TSA, explained my minor predicament and asked where I might find a monitor. He looked at me with a blank expression and said, "It is not my job to make your life easier." He then turned away and continued his business.

A lot of systemic reasons cause government employees, on the whole, to be less responsive to their "customers" than people in the private sector. That does not, however, make encounters like this one more acceptable.

Here's the real deal:

If you are a CEO or if you work for a CEO, which represents everyone reading this e-zine, you get paid to create value for your constituents/stakeholders (for more on this subject, read our March 2005 and November 2005 issues). That's job #1. Your primary constituents are your company's paying customers; they pay your salary. Your company is merely a pass-through mechanism. We developed the following simple seven-step process to help clients do that:

  • Identify your company's targeted customer
  • Discern the dimensions of value that they require
  • Qualify/quantify those dimensions with performance categories and metrics
  • Perform
  • Measure
  • Develop and implement corrective actions to fill performance gap
  • Begin again

When is the sale complete? NEVER!

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit