Comedians will tell you that jocularity depends on timing. Knowing when to put in that quip for maximum effect is a key skill; conversely saying the light hearted comment at the wrong time can be disastrous.
know your audience, know the occasion and the timing will flow.
A sale is not a sale until:
a) you have an agreed amount payable and you have had the dance with terms of trade / order / delivery / invoice / credit note
b) you have got the money in the bank
You have got past “Go” so before you collect your £200
a) you have made sure your documentation is right
b) you have sent a statement out asking for the agreed money
c) you have followed this up with a phone call asking when the cash is expected
d) you have still not reveieved the money and are threatening legal action, but deep down you know you won’t do this because it is costly (and so does the customer)
What else should you do?
Here’s what I tried. I appealed to his sense of fairness and switched roles.
I sent this email extract out when I became frustrated at a customer who was obviously having cash flow difficulties but was afraid to tell me.
I have changed the names to protect the innocent.
The background to this was a debt owing on the Car Rental business.
Dear Customer (real name withheld),
I can only support what Nicki says, we believe we have acted in good faith in reinstating Insurance and Central Reservations business, and we will keep to our part of that arrangement.
What I am finding difficult is believing your committment to ensuring that contractual obligations are met on time.
Despite assurances from both of you that all committments will be met, we have had two payments this week that have not.
One on Monday and one today totalling together in excess of £1000, at the time of writing this email, I am still not clear in how you will be rectifying this position.
Our debt position is now worse than it was one week ago
I am now faced with the embarassing position of releasing a car to you with a cheque that has not been cleared (it did not arrive when promised) and I am becoming nervous about this transaction.
I have also been in touch with Kelly who is equally disappointed we have not made inroads into the preparation of a budget which will enable us to competitively quote for your business.
Under the circumstances, how do you want to take this forward and are you able to meet the committments you made to us last week?
What would you do if you were me?
So I tried this re-framing, and yes, it got the desired result. That customer is still a customer, but ask yourself this – what would have happened if he ignored this request? Simple, you would have come to the instinctive conclusion that the customer’s values are simply not the same as yours and you should seriously consider doing business in the future. That is why you should set credit limits for each customer and limit your exposure with people you are uncomfortable with. Remember there are approximately 60 million people in the UK. How come you got landed with this one?
The ability to recognise and act in accordance with the spirit not the letter of the law.
You need to know the greater good, do the good and deliver the goods.
Get passionate, do everything to the max, otherwise you will kick yourself if you fail because you didn’t give it 100%.
Live each day as your last because one day it will be.
Work beyond the call of duty, get other people excited about your projects and set goals with your heart, not just your intellect.
To ensure the rest of the world remains with you, stop doing things at the same pace you are starting others. Too many activities at once will confuse people and you will become frustrated. Remember the convoy analogy: you can only go as fast as the slowest (but vital) member of the team.
Toyota developed the 5 why’s and then you will get to the solution to any problem, why stop at 5?
If you have had children you know that they don’t.
To stop this happening to infinity, ask yourself the question before someone else does, because if you can’t figure out why for yourself the task/situation is best left alone.
Mmmm… Eastern or Western Philosophy?
Enjoy the moment. Or, if you don’t enjoy the moment, find a moment that you do enjoy.
It is hard enough staying on the ladder of success, climbing it is even harder.
Get as much feedback as you can about your performance and make changes as appropriate. Useful insights into your own performance will give you the ability to move to the next rung.
Spend as much as you can on quality, either for people who work for you, items of plant and machinery, pens/pencils, whatever. Do not allow standards to drop for the sake of a few pennies.
A quality environment influences:
a) the way you work
b) the way others perceive you and more importantly the standards that you require of them
How do you decide?
Are you impulsive and make decisions based on intuitive thinking and reside at the emotional end of the spectrum, or are you hesitant, like to explore all possible angles and get everyone’s opinions and then try the decision out on a sample or trial basis?
Both types of decision making are fine. However, take both to their extremes and the first type behaviour may lead to inconsistent thinking as your emotions get the better of you. The latter may just lead to procrastination and indecision.
One thing is for sure, we live in a changing world. The middle ground on this is that; on the one hand there is no time to procrastinate; on the other hand, emotions do get the better of us.
The solution to decision making is to make them based on a clear understanding of what you are trying to acheive in the limited time available – make that decision and review it.
If it turns out to be a bad decision, make another decision and rectify the outcome.
The mindset on all this is that they are your decisions and you live with the consequences. Constant review and feedback from others are key to understanding the quality of the decision.