Collection Problems = Sales Problems

Those of you who know me well have already heard this. I am fortunate to be able to say that I was one of Dave Kurlan’s first clients. I was a sponge. I attended training classes for years and practiced non-stop. If you read my Burkinshaw Law bio, you’ll read that “I realized that the techniques and tools used by a professional salesperson with a prospective customer were exactly the same techniques and tools that were used by a professional debt collector with a debtor. So I founded a collection agency. Over the next 20 years, I developed a very loyal client base, got some publicity (the 13th entry here) and from Smartfast. I also worked with Matt Burkinshaw to found his Burkinshaw Law and my clients continue to be happy there.

Here’s the meat! After dealing with 1000’s of debtors, I realized that more often than not, I was cleaning up after a salesperson had made a “mistake”. Check out my expanded David Kurlan & Associates bio. Think about it. Twenty years of hearing this from customers who became debtors.

“The salesman told me three days, it took 3 weeks.”
“The salesman told me he’d throw that in.”
“The salesman didn’t tell me that the payments were due on the first.”
“The salesman told me he’d hold the check for a week.”

How about these from my clients who were small business owners?

“I bent over backwards for this customer, special delivery, extra samples, special terms….”
“I gave this customer a special introductory price as an attempt to get the rest of their business….”
“It took me six months to have a 10 minute conversation with this customer. They didn’t return calls. They stood me up. They ignored me, but I was persistent and got the business….”
“We were excited when we landed this customer. The biggest sale in the history of the company. This one customer was 50% of last year’s sales….”
“….and now none of these customers are paying me.”

And how about those idiot sales managers talking to their salespeople?

“Get the business whatever it takes.”
“Get the business, we’ll worry about capacity after.”

I can tell you that every collection problem, that’s right, EVERY one stems back to a sales problem.

If a salesperson doesn’t explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), we have no right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem.

If a salesperson DOES explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), but the customer doesn’t hear it, listen to it, or fully agree with it, we have no right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem.

If a salesperson does explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), and the customer does hear, listen, and agree, but they’re lying, we ABSOLUTELY have the right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem, but we absolutely have the right to FIRE our salesperson if they don’t fix their inadequacies. And, if they knew the customer was lying and took the deal anyway, I’d fire them immediately.

It is always the salesperson’s fault. They have no right to write bad business (whether they know it’s bad or not). They have no right to skip details that are important to customer satisfaction and retention. They have no right to help a customer steal from their employers. If I sound harsh, think about this. Hundreds of my clients are small business owners. One man shows, sole practitioners, small partnerships and closely held corporations. We’re talking MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! Do you think that those small business owners might like to avoid that whole problem? Do you think that they would have liked to get all that money without having to pay me?

That’s why I’m passionate about making strong salespeople. That’s why I have no patience for mediocre or crooked salespeople. I don’t do bad deals for my employers and I don’t want anybody in my circle to do bad deals for themselves or their employers.

Bottom line is, “Sell what you deliver and deliver what you sell.” If you’re not strong enough, get help and if you’re not committed enough to get help, tell your boss that you quit and if you are the boss, hire a good salesperson.

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