I’ve had the thrill of seeing a couple of performances of Cirque du Soleil. A lot of talent, but I beleive those of us in the business of ‘effective’ accounts receivable have the most difficult balancing act in the world. We’ve heard that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and it’s certainly true in collections. If you don’t speak up the odds are against you, 60/40 and that’s from a good client base.
Rule number one in Paulsen’s list of collection techniques is to “ask for the money”. You must be assertive in this business or you may never get paid. Difficult enough for some folks, but others go too far, collect the money ‘no matter what’. The “what” is loss of customers, time spent handling complaints, bad press.
You know what is even trickier? It’s not a fine line between being assertive and aggressive – it is a wide one, and the width can change every day, sometimes moment with some of your customers. An approach that may be reasonably assertive with an accounts payable manager this morning could backfire in the afternoon. Same person. Why? Their situation has changed and maybe yours too, you make your statements with a different attitutde.
This is why true ‘effective’ collections is an art rather than a science. We need to be good dance partners and the best partners know when to lead, how to follow. It is also what makes it so much fun and though there is a lot of automation these days and I’m all for improving producivity – our business and organization have never needed us more.