The Sales Persons Role In Debt Collection

Many sales people consider their job is done when they close a sale and take an order from their customer. But the sale is not really closed until your company has been paid for the goods or services you have sold!

Many sales people are uncomfortable at being asked to collect overdue money from their customers. Yet the sales person is often in the best position for ensuring overdue invoices are paid by a customer and this activity also provides an opportunity for them to build a better relationship with the customer. Consider the following two points:

1. If the customer has been a really good one up to now and if you want to keep him or her, then it is better for the sales person to take charge of recovering the debt. The alternative is for the customer to be handed over to a rigid reminder and collection mechanism. The sales person can save the relationship and this will lead to closing more sales in the future.

2. Talking about the customer’s financial difficulties can help to deepen the connection the sales person has with the customer. You will learn new facts about their situation; you will get to know another side of the customer personally; you can demonstrate your reliability, skill and helpfulness in a new area.

However, in order to be successful in recovering overdue money the sales person needs to do the following:

1. Check before the visit whether your information is complete and up to date. Are the amounts and time limits correct? Up to when have incoming payments been taken into consideration? If the payment is overdue, are comments from the customer available?

2. Take evidence with you. Defaulting customers tend to make excuses, which can only be countered with the help of the correct documentation. Get copies of delivery notes, invoices and orders and take these with you.

3. Don’t beat about the bush: “By the way, something else I was wanting to ask was about…” Say straight out, “Today I’ve also got to talk to you about the two invoices dated the … and the …, which you haven’t yet paid.”

4. Put forward a proposal for payment that you have already agreed with your sales manager.

5. Set the result of the discussion you have with the customer down in writing. Repeat the customer’s promise before you start writing. You can ask him or her to sign the record and acknowledge the debt. This could help if you do have to take matters further to eventually recover the debt.

By taking a pro-active role in debt collection the sales person can ensure the sales they make are truly closed!