One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was when an old manager told me “work the business end, and anything else you can, up front, before it becomes a problem.”
Ugh, one of the worst parts of the job is, of course, the part where you are a collection agency. We’ve all been there. It’s the last day of the billing cycle and the email just came from the business office that if you don’t have that check in by 3pm, you’re going to get charged back. Now you have to spend most of your day chasing down the guy who always brags about how great his business is but is nowhere to be found when it’s time to pay the bill. He finally calls you back, acts like a complete ass even though you’re just trying to get him to pay for something he bought at the terms he agreed to, and then hits you with something along the lines of “my accountant is out of town,” or “we only cut checks on Thursdays” and now you aren’t going to get paid for all the work you did.
90% of these problems can be avoided if a good conversation has been had up front about the business side. The worst possible thing you can do is avoid the issue and then be addressing it right when the campaign is to go live, or worse, sixty days in to a buy. While they are excited about starting the new partnership and seeing their business grow, explain the business policies and work out the arrangements right then and there.
Payment, however, is not the only thing to address up front. Another is cancellation. I don’t mean you have an in depth conversation about the policies for a cancellation, I’m referring to talking to new businesses and telling them that in a couple of months, they’re most likely going to want to cancel. Many of you may have read Roy Williams’ (Wizard of Ads, not North Carolina Basketball) article called “The Chickening Out Period.” If you haven’t, it’s a must read for anyone in media sales (https://www.wizardofads.com.au/the-chickening-out-period/).
In the article, Williams talks about that period between two and three months when a new client always seems to want to cancel because they’ve not yet seen the results they were looking for. As we know, a minimum of thirteen weeks is recommended for a good campaign, and the reason is that’s how long it generally takes to start working. So, when we sell the six or twelve month agreement, why not give them this article and talk about it before you ever start? I know a seller who carried printed copies in his folder and handed one to each new client he brought on board. This goes back to my article from last week where I talked about thinking about the renewal when you’re making the first sale.
Lastly, you want to take the time to discuss, from the beginning, what their expectations are for the campaign. You want to know what success looks like to them so that you’re measuring and optimizing the campaign with that knowledge in mind. As you follow up with the client during the course of the campaign, you’ll now be able to have something to go off of as you talk through how the plan is performing.
We all know there are many things to do when it comes to closing and servicing a sale. Take the advice I was given and address as many things that could become issues down the road, in advance. Save yourself from the future anguish.