Obstacle Illusions

image of obstacles ahead

By: Tim Paulsen

What is slowing you down from being effective? Some barriers are thrown in front of us but others are…well, as the title says, just obstacle illusions.

1. You don’t trust me!

This may be the belief of a potential or present customer if they are not approved for initial credit or an increase in their credit line. Never decline a customer, they will always hear ‘you don’t trust me’ and it does not matter if their credit history is strewn with late or non-pays, they figure they are o.k., a bit tardy on occasion, but in the long run…o.k.

“We would be pleased to extend credit and to do so, what we need is….”. Could be a co-signer, clearance of past debt, you may need to get creative, but never say no.

2. Education stop when you get out of school:

There is value in schooling, but education starts when you begin working. At least it should. There will be co-workers, maybe even a supervisor or two who may point at your head when you start working and say, “Where do you think you’re going with that? You won’t need your brain on this job. Park it over by the door and pick it up on the way out.”

Don’t listen to ‘em. I’ve worked on the factory floor, as a laborer, delivered pizza and delivered educational seminars in 26 countries. Pay attention. Take notes. If you go to a conference, particularly out of province or State, you should plan on coming back with a list of ‘to do’ items.

3. An outside consultant will ‘turn things around’:

The best of us will see a few things that may not be as clear to you, but any sustained and real change is going to be made by you and your team. Use consultants like you would an Oracle of Delphi with Senior Management to make the changes you want. “We must do this, as recommended by the consultants, etc.”.

4. A sale is not complete until the money is in the cash register:

Speaking of cash, I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this quote. Let’s get this right, “The sale is not complete until the money is in the cash register and the customer returns to deal with you, on credit and pays on time.”

With a couple of days training almost anyone can be trained to be a reasonable collector. But, to also have the customer return, order on credit and keep the terms, calls for a collection professional.

5. Win-win Negotiations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for putting our arms around each other and singing Kumbaya as much as the next person, maybe even more and while I don’t want to take advantage of TOS (the other side), let’s not be naïve – we are out to win.

6. Collect the receivables as if it was your money!

This is the mantra of ‘owners’ and senior management who mistakenly believe that Accounts Receivable will be more effective if they treated the debt as if it was out of their own pocket.

In negotiations, there is a paradox. The party who doesn’t ‘need’ a deal will be more effective than one who does. If someone owes ‘you’ money, I could do a much more effective job of collecting it then you. Same applies the other way.

P.S. Be careful who you tell this to! I delivered a program to a sales team in Kansas City and mentioned they should NOT treat the debt as if it was THEIR money. Forgot to tell the owner of the firm who was in a corner of the room. Never hired me back, I should have cleared or explained first.

7. The check is NOT in the mail:

If a customer tells us they’ve mailed a check and have told us the same old story a few times in the past – we’re tempted to call them a liar. Are they? Probably, but even if true, it is not relevant.

Doesn’t mean you let them get away with it though. “Mr. Sullivan, I appreciate you may have sent that cheque a few days ago, but as I look over the notes on your file, that same statement was made back on June 2 and before that in mid-May. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying you did not send them, however, we did not receive them. What we need to do is….”

8. If it is worth doing, it’s worth doing right:

Excellence in a few endeavors is admirable and worthwhile. Remembering and taking appropriate action on anniversaries and birthdays and packing parachutes come to mind. But for many, many others – good enough is good enough.

9. Just do it!

It is one of the most recognized marketing slogans in the world, and the Nike marketing people ‘almost’ had it right.

It’s too much planning and not enough doing for me. More management techniques, diets and divorces begin on Monday than any other day of the week. If it is worth doing (refer to #8), then you should be “doing it”.

As much as I like the Nike slogan, my favourite is “What happens in Vegas Stays in  Vegas.” (I get goosebumps!)

10. Bad hair day:

Horse sh*t. Do something about it. We’ve got choices so let’s start making them.

Overcome an obstacle – kill an excuse!
…Tim Paulsen