The object of the game is to make the sale, right? WRONG. The object of the game is to make the sale — and to collect the money.
Oh, the money.
It never ceases to amaze me how incomplete salespeople really are. Not their sales skill level…not their communication capability…not their attitude…not even their persistence to get the sale.
Where they fall short is collecting the money.
“Jeffrey,” you whine. “I’m not in collections; I’m in sales!”
I don’t know how more incorrect you can be. Oh, you may have a collections department, but it serves more as a function of billing and accounting. Your main job as a salesperson is not just making the sale. Your main job as a salesperson is making sure you get paid after you make the sale. Otherwise, why bother?
Think about it for just a second. How many sales can you make, not collect the money, and still be in business? Answer: not many.
AND, the majority of salespeople are paid AFTER monies have been received. You’re not paid on booked sales. You’re not paid on delivered sales. You’re not paid on invoiced sales. You’re paid AFTER the customer pays.
Well, if that’s the case, then why are you only making half a sale, and relying on somebody else to do the other half: collect the money? By the way, it’s not THE money, it’s YOUR money. HELLO.
You’re paid based on COLLECTIONS, not sales. And like fools, you leave collecting YOUR money to accounting. What are you thinking?
And who is that “someone else” you rely on to collect your money? You guessed it, “Sparky,” the accounting department — the single worst customer relations department known to mankind. Their job is to collect money at all costs — including the cost of the relationship.
Salespeople want to keep customers because customers generate more orders — and more orders result in more commissions.
Accounting people want to collect money. They don’t care about sales. They don’t even like salespeople. They think salespeople are pushy. What the accounting department needs to do is wake up and smell the Pop-Tarts. The truth is, because of those pushy salespeople, accountants have pencils to push and beans to count.
In short, if there is no sales department, there is no accounting department.
Pardon my rant. Now back to the sales department, and since we’re talking the truth, the sales and money collecting department.
The short story is: make the sale and collect the money. The long story is: the steps you must take as a salesperson to ensure that you are paid for the sale you just made.
The first thing you have to do is communicate with the customer past the delivery of goods or services, all the way to the payment. It’s so easy to make a sale. It’s much more delicate to talk about the money that will change hands after the product or services have been delivered. This is especially important if you’ve never done it before, more important if you don’t know the procedures, and most important if you don’t think it’s your job.
Let’s get one thing straight: It’s not your job — unless you want to get paid. Get it? It’s not your job — unless you want to keep the customer. It’s not your job — unless you want to get the reorder. It’s not your job — unless you want to keep your job. Now do you get it?
To solidify the payment after purchase, you must do the following 4.5 things:
1. Find out who pays. Not a department — a name. You want the name of the person in charge. And a name of the person who actually does the processing.
2. Find out how payments are made. What are their normal terms of payment? Can you get a deposit? Do they usually pay on time? Do they take any form of discount? What kind of proof of delivery do they need? How do they process papers? Who approves invoices? From the time the invoice is approved, how long does it take to cut a check? Who signs the check?
NOTE WELL: I’ll bet any amount of money that 99.9% of the salespeople reading this column have never asked those questions of a buyer. And these questions are the fulcrum point of the collection process. If the salesperson is the collector, or makes the arrangements for collection, it is more likely, ACTUALLY most likely, that that account will be preserved, and there will be a reorder. It is also most likely that the salesperson will build a solid relationship based on upfront communication. And the key phrase, “No surprises.”
3. Agree on payment dates. This one’s a little more delicate. Agree that if goods are received by the 15th, that payment will be made on or before the 15th of the following month. The key phrase: “on or before.”
4. Agree on what happens if payment is late. Get the names and numbers of people YOU call if these promises are not kept.
4.5 Keep it friendly and keep it light. The object here is to create open dialogue and communication, not push the customer up against the wall before you have made a delivery or delivered on a promise.
Here’s a thought: 50% of collection calls could be eliminated if the salesperson would sell the payment the same time he sells the product or service. And, this upfront communication means no balls are dropped, and commissions are paid on time. Your commissions.
If you make arrangements to collect the money when you make the sale, it saves face, saves dollars, saves embarrassment, and saves the customer.
If you want a few more facts about why salespeople should make arrangements to collect the money, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter COLLECT in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail