Collecting money customers owe you will require you to be persistent and shameless. You have made the sale. Provided the product or service. Sent the invoice. Waited. Waited. Waited. And now your stomach is in a knot because you absolutely HATE having to call customers for cash.
When I first got into sales, my biggest complaint to my boss was about collecting money. I HATED IT. I told him, “I feel like I’m playing Good Cop and Bad Cop”. Meaning: I’m the “Good Cop” who sells the customer something and then I have to be the “Bad Cop” when they are slow at paying or, even worse, haven’t paid at all. My old manager said, “Tough. It is not a sale until you’re paid.” That was good advice from a crusty old sales guy from San Francisco. I’ve never forgotten it.
No one really likes collecting money; however, I got over being shy about it years ago. In fact, it doesn’t bother me at all now. What bothers me instead is NOT getting paid for something I have provided. I will always find a way to get paid…count on it. It’s happened to everyone sooner or later. Your cash flow is going through a tight spell, so you are paying slower than usual. Your customers go through it too.
The problem is that it still causes stress for both the customer and the salesperson who sold the product or service.
6 Sales Tips To Collecting Without Guilt
- Set The Stage. Be upfront about your terms and ask your customer if it works with their payment policies. Discover the department and person you need to send the invoice to as well as what day. This way you’ll never miss a billing cycle.
- Cover Your Hard Costs. Depending on your industry, you can charge a deposit. This is the status quo in the speaking industry as well as many others (e.g. web design). Never do deals with someone who has less to lose than you do. If they want to hire you, they have to commit.
- Get It In Writing. A contract outlines every detail of what you and the customer are doing together. Signed contracts can be taken to court (your last resort). And do not do everything on the telephone. Make sure that you send a follow-up email stating what was covered in the call. Otherwise you will be in for a pitiful game of “He Said, She Said.”
- Ask For The Money Honey. Get on the phone and ask when you can pick up the payment. Usually customers fully intend to pay–you just may be at the bottom of the supplier pile. Be fair, firm and friendly and it will be appreciated.
- Learn From The Past. History can repeat itself. Offer different terms for clients with a history of slow payment. Ask for 100 percent of the money upfront until credit has been established. Charge to credit cards, get a wire transfer, ask for a bank draft. Help your client but still find a way that you can sleep at night too!
- Stick To Your Guns. It can be tempting to walk away from a bad deal and write it off. Don’t do that. It isn’t fair to all of your other customers and it certainly isn’t fair to you. If you need to, take them to court. You aren’t going to keep the nasty customer anyway (you don’t want them) so you may as well go all the way!
Remember, most customers are wonderful. There may be an occasional glitch but those who are respectful, listen, show value and be proactive are likely to have long, prosperous relationships together.