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What Good?s a Sale Without a Payment?

Sales Moves | Jeffrey GitomerThe object of the game is to make the sale, right? That?s part of it. The object of the game is to make the sale?and to collect your money. You may have a collections department, but it really handles billing and accounting. Face it, your job as a salesperson is not just making the sale, it?s making sure you get paid after you make the sale. Otherwise, why bother?
Think about it for a second. How many sales can you make without collecting the money and still be in business? Not many. And most salespeople are paid after monies have been received. You?re not paid on booked sales, delivered sales or invoiced sales. You?re paid after your company is paid.
So why are you relying on somebody else to collect your money? And who is that ?someone else? you rely on to collect your money? It?s accounting, the 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. 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.
So, assuming you now agree that you are responsible for collecting after your sales, what steps must you take? 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. 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 things:
Find out who pays Not a department but a name. You want the name of the person in charge and the name of the person who actually does the processing.
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?
I?ll bet that 99.9% of the salespeople reading this column have never asked those questions of a buyer. 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 the 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 there will be fewer surprises.
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.?
Agree on what happens if payment is late Get the names and numbers of people you will call if these promises are not kept.
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: Fifty percent of collection calls could be eliminated if the salespeople sold the payment at the same time they sold the product or service. This upfront communication means no balls are dropped, that commissions are paid on time.
If you make arrangements to collect the money when you make the sale, it will save face, dollars, embarrassment and probably some customers.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of ?The Sales Bible,? and ?Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.? He can be reached at (704) 333-1122 or via e-mail at [email protected]

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