Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Terms are a Deal Maker or Deal Breaker

When it comes to cash flow, payments and terms are either a deal maker or a deal breaker.

Some industries get this.  One of my kids is in the process of closing on their first house. Paying $700 a month until 2045 sounds almost like forever, but asking them to coin out in full for the new place would have never made the purchase possible.

Some business owners I know are abhorrent of terms. One solopreneur constantly rants at me “If they don’t have the money, they don’t have the need.” I respectfully disagree with their rant, and I also have learned to keep my mouth closed around them. Experience has taught me businesses and families all have budgets and cash flow concerns. It's up to you as a vendor or supplier what you will do about this.

Terms as a Closing Tool

I believe in terms as a closing tool.  It is not necessarily fly now/pay later as that critic likes to portray this, but it works with the budget scenarios for numerous small to medium businesses.   Cash flow may always be king, but the ability to have it flow towards you is how you judge your sales and marketing success. 

Here are some cash flow and payment strategies with which I have had success:  
  • Accept Credit/Debit Cards - The lack of ready cash in people's wallet or purse should make this option quite obvious. I have an app for Intuit QuickBooks Payments on my cell phone.  This allows me to inexpensively accept credit and debit cards with no monthly maintenance fees and significantly lower redemption rates. Other popular services include Square, PayPal and CASH. I find that Intuit pays faster than the others.  If your volume dictates, work with a reputable credit card processor who can help you manage your transaction loads. They are tasked to find you the best processing rates. Gone are the days when your commercial banker made 8% or more on the redemption of a credit card transaction, plus sky-high monthly service and merchant fees. 
  • Auto Pay – If someone I know retains me for a project and needs to space out equal payments of a set amount for a sustained period, I tell them the only way for this is equal payments via debit or credit card or  Electronic Fund Transfers set to pull before the 28th of the preceding month. (I explain that every month as a 28th.)  I have also accepted recurring check payments set up with proof of this submitted to me. 
  • Offer A Discount for Cash -  I learned this tip from a commercial contractor I know. He takes every one of his bids and multiplies his final cost by 1.2. When presenting his proposals, he will then offer customers a 15% to 20% discount for cash if received in full at the start of the job. Therefore, he has protected his margins and still has negotiating room should the client be looking for a discount. 
  • Sell The Payment – If your clients are constantly looking for you to offer payment options, but the idea of juggling all these has you concerned, sell the servicing of your debt off to a third party firm.  Finance companies, commercial leasing brokers, and consumer leasing companies are available to buy this debt from you, pay you at close and will then serve as the intermediary. I worked for a commercial leasing broker for three years and was able to help many companies close deals which they might  not have received otherwise.  One key: you need to disclose fully your customers that these payments are serviced by a third party company. 
One non-negotiable rule of all sales and marketing: There should never be any guesswork on either side on how the buyer is paying the seller. Both sides should totally agree at the time of signatures on an order.

Let me know what other option you offer to take the sting out of purchasing your products or services. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

When will you have the talk?

It’s just 80 days away, and I’m wondering when you will have the talk?

When will you talk with your customers, prospects, vendors and staff about 2016? When will you have a talk with yourself about the coming year?

Some people already have budgets to submit. They need to have to have proposals and objectives submitted to be reviewed and approved.  Others won’t think even about 2016 until January 4th, the first business day of the new year. 

 Which business model do you work from? Which do you want to work from?

Long vs. Short Run Planning

Do you feel comfortable with long range planning or do you prefer to be Red Adair.  Paul ‘Red’ Adair was best known in the 1960’s and 70’s for putting out the huge, dangerous and exciting fires which occurred when an oil well erupted. If you think your job is tough, imagine what you would have to do to put out a fire on an exploding oil rig. Yet, many business owners and managers can act just like Ol' Red. They wait until something explodes, and only then will they do something about it.

That’s why we’re having this talk right now.  Your future is NOW!

In 2016, I want you to resolve to stop going from crisis to crisis.  Leave the flame retardant suit back in the hall closet.  Don’t just set goals, but put in place systems to handle those goals. Here’s the difference. A goal is a state or place at which you want to arrive.  A system is a conscious process to achieve a goal or several goals multiple times.

If your goal was to lose 15 pounds, once you’ve lost it  … you’re done. If your goal is to maintain a certain weight, you have a bigger picture. You have to adopt a system that when you stray at the buffet, puts you back into the process of maintaining that goal.

The same is true with your operations. If you want to do something once, it’s a goal. If you want to do it a repeated number of times, it is a system.  Marketing and sales need to have systems to ensure twelve good months of prospects, opportunities, and cash flow.

Incidents will occur. You may even have a genuine explosion or two with which you have to deal. But, your vendors, talent, clients and customers would appreciate not having an on-going case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to deal with.

Action Steps

Here’s what I want to encourage you to do:
  1. Brainstorm your goals for 2016 out on paper. Don’t be realistic. Write down everything you want to accomplish, do, be, have and become.  Start with an initial session and then keep the list handy for additional times when great ideas come to you. 
  2.  Look at the list and ask yourself questions about what you’ve listed.  HERE’S AN EXAMPLE: If you have travel goals, is it that you want to get to these destinations … or that you’re so fed up with the workload, stress or space you are in … anywhere else seems a whole lot better than the place where you’re at?
  3. Look at your professional goals and start to make a 2016 Business Plan.  Look at your personal goals and make a life plan.  Take the time to capture them on paper. If not, you will forget them before you walk across the room. 
  4. Determine each of these which are one-off goals and which will require you to implement systems. Also, give yourself permission to delete things which are mere flights of fancy and don’t lead anywhere significant. 
  5. Give yourself permission to do the things which are uniquely yours to do. Expect that change will require you to be uncomfortable. Seek support, coaching and assistance as necessary. Give up doing it all by yourself in 2016. 
  6. Regularly check to see where you are with your goals and systems.  If you haven’t gotten something done which is important, ask yourself what stands in your way.  Own the parts of it which are yours. You can’t succeed in cleaning off your desk if you won’t take the papers over to the file cabinet. 

Let me know how you are doing, both now, on January 4th and in a couple of months.  If you would like some coaching and assistance on this, I’m just an email or phone call away: 248-383-5793 or