Selling it to Your Buyers
Time to wrap things up. We’ve considered the mindset adjustments required to overcome the “asking for money” resistance. Identified the good and bad customers, and plotted strategies for eliminating the freeloaders – or avoiding them altogether. So that leaves us with the good customers, and how to overcome their tendencies to resist our efforts to get paid FASTER.
Yes: you are going to meet resistance, especially if you have existing customers, and you’ve made the professional mistake of allowing them to pay you HOW they want, WHEN they want. People are creatures of habit, and tend to get set in their ways – which may be to pay by check, or cash, and pay on whatever schedule they prefer. And the “hassle” of dealing with invoices may seem like an unnecessary procedure to them. “Can’t we just do it the way we’ve always done it/the way I’d rather do it/the way that works best for ME?”
If you’ve been reading this series of articles from the beginning, you know the answer to that is simply “no”. How do we get this to go over with our customers, and not become another bunch of stress and headaches? Here’s how:
Blame “Your Accountant”
Or your “bookkeeper”. Even if you work alone. Always create a straw man (straw *person*?) to play the “bad cop”: explain that this is out of your hands, and to improve efficiency, comply with Uncle Sam, blah blah blah, that you’ve been advised by the person/people who handle your financials that it simply has to be done this way going forward.
Much of this will be true, even if the implacable bureaucratic type you’re talking about is just a phantom version of yourself. You have made the decisions/changes to improve your company. It IS a better way to manage your financials. And it IS non-negotiable. By inventing a “fall guy” (fall person?), you avoid having to tell someone you’re trying to convince to pay you “it’s my way or the highway”. Because you don’t want them to chose the highway… and you probably want to continue doing business with them. Good customers are not that easy to find, and steady customers are worth more than new ones.
It’s a feature, not a bug
That precious section helps you explain why YOU have chosen/are “obligated” to handle invoicing and payment this way… but where’s the “WII.FM” for the person who has to do the paying?
Explain to your customers and clients that your professional service are a tax write-off (most are – check with the experts to be sure you know what you’re talking about); but ONLY if things are properly documented. Nothing inspires people to put up with a new procedure more than the phrase “it will save you money”.
It’s for their protection
You may not want to raise the subject of refund or dissatisfaction, but with certain customers this can be a selling point. Payment by cash is invisible and hard to dispute, even with a hand written receipt, which is kind of flimsy evidence for small claims court. Checks aren’t much better. A digitally signed professional service agreement and PDF invoices recording electronic payments are better than the paper they’re printed on. They’re binding and enforceable. You of course intend to deliver outstanding services and leave every customer and client ecstatically satisfied, but showing the professional consideration may actually help overcome that reluctant person (who may be trying to balk over price) by showing them how seriously you’ve thought out – and operate – Your Small Business.