Salespeople have questions as they enter new decade

January 11, 2010
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I get a ton of e-mails asking to solve sales dilemmas. Here are a few that may relate to your job, your life and, most importantly, your sales thought process now and into the New Year.

Jeffrey, How important is it to really love what you do (or sell)? Greg

Greg, If you don't love what you do, you won't do it with all your heart, your attitude will suffer, you'll become cynical, and eventually you'll leave in search of something that you do love. Loving what you do makes work not seem like work. Loving what you do makes you much more passionate when you deliver a presentation. Loving what you do gives you a service heart. Loving what you do gives you fulfillment at the end of each day — and that attitude travels all the way home to the people that you love. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, My customers are always overdue paying. In your “Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless” book, you promote collecting your paycheck with dignity and respect. What's the best way to collect without taking away my client's dignity? Jason

Jason, Salespeople, eager to sell, often overlook payment for goods or services as part of the sale. The easiest way to collect is arranging terms, and agreeing on terms, when the sale is made. Invoicing customers who have credit and terms of net 10 or net 30 will often take the liberty of paying late because they can.

If you’re charged with the responsibility of past due invoices, two words hold the key: in person. Go to your customer, sit down with the person who purchased and the person who pays (they’re most likely different people), and work out something that you can both live with. Your customer is well aware that they owe you money. E-mailing them or calling them is a shortcut that will most likely not get you the results that you’re looking for. An in-person visit might actually get you a payment and another order, and maybe even a referral if you handle it right. The key is to be both friendly and professional.

The reason that I prefer that salespeople collect on past due accounts is because accounting departments are often professional but not friendly. Accounting departments may be demanding and ridiculing.

But your customer not paying on time is not a problem: It’s a symptom.

As a salesperson looking to collect money AND keep the customer, your job is to determine which of the following 6.5 elements are present to discover what the real problem is, and how to react properly:

1. The sale was not completed correctly. Payment was not arranged for.

2. The customer knows they can get away with it and pay 30-day bills in 60 days.

3. There’s an unresolved quality issue.

4. There’s an unresolved service issue.

5. You gave credit to someone who didn’t deserve it.

6. You’re a low priority in the customer’s payables hierarchy (i.e. you come after rent, bank loans, credit cards, electric, etc.).

 6.5 The customer actually does not have the money to pay you.

All of these problems or situations can be resolved with a face-to-face meeting. None of them will be resolved with a threatening, dunning phone call. My challenge to you as a salesperson is go to the customer, get the check and get another order. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, I recently left a senior HR position to join a human capital software solution company to sell their software. I’m having trouble transitioning my usual approach of addressing a group with information, and instead addressing a group to sell a solution. The company wants me to incorporate a PowerPoint presentation and I can’t seem to keep my thoughts in order when I add that medium. Please help! Lisa

Lisa, Part of your frustration may be a throwback to your previous job that required you to be formal and professional. Successful salespeople are professional and more friendly than formal.

As far as your PowerPoint is concerned, it’s just a matter of practice, familiarity and fitting it into your stories that relate back to when you were doing your old function — so that you can more easily connect with the people that you’re trying to engage. “I did this myself and that’s why I am selling this solution.” Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffery Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com

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