One of the most basic sales fundamentals is reliability, the simple act of doing what you say you’re going to do. You could also argue it’s the most obvious. (It’s also a rule that translates equally well to most other areas of life.) In two words: Be reliable.

Deliver on your commitments. Be on time. Make sure your customer gets the document or other obligation you promised when (or before) you promised it.

Failing to deliver on time causes a cascade of potential responses, from irritation to frustration to resignation to disqualification. None of them are good and all of them avoidable.

When unplanned delays occur that may delay the delivery, give your customer advanced warning. It’s rare that you don’t know well beforehand that a deadline is in jeopardy. Which means there’s seldom a reason not to give your client the heads-up.

Embrace Your Mistakes

Own your mistakes. Be quick to admit an error. A mistake early in the sales cycle is a harder spot to dig out from than one late in the process when you’d had the chance to establish a reputation for professional follow-thorough.

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This might cause some hesitation, thinking you can let it slide. It’s better to own the error. Your customer may be disappointed, and even angry, but is ultimately likely to appreciate the update. More importantly, it’s psychically liberating for you almost from the moment you deliver the news. Try it and you’ll see.

The key to making reliability easier to follow is to be mindful, and even cautious, about what you promise and when you promise it. For example, don’t offer to send a proposal tomorrow if it means writing it up from scratch, requires complex configuration help from others, and/or depends on management approval before you can share it. (This is where your Sales Toolkit can help.) Similarly, don’t tell them you’ll be there in thirty minutes when it’s a twenty-minute drive and you’re standing in your bedroom, taking the call in your underwear.

Keep it in Perspective

Most of the time, your client’s expectations are less demanding than your own. Understanding this affords you room to maneuver. Give yourself some cushion. It’s infinitely easier to be reliable, punctual and responsive when you’ve got time to work with. But once you’re committed, do what you can to stick to your promises.

Over time, this sort of reliability becomes habit-forming. And as one of the most basic habits you need to be successful in sales, it makes everything else that much easier.