Archive for September, 2014

Bill Gibson – Collect The Money And Keep The Client

Friday, September 19th, 2014

What is the difference between a business owner and a staff member? The answer is quite profound…Month End! Staff members enthusiastically look forward to month end to collect their pay cheque. From the 24th of the month to the end of the month business owners are often the opposite. They are stressed out trying to get enough money in to pay the end of the month payment demands, including the staff wages.

Maximising your collections efforts is vital for your continual survival and success as a business. Following are some of the simplest most effective tips I have learned from over 40 years of business ownership, collecting as a collector in my younger years in the consumer finance business and over the years designing and implementing collections programs in banks and credit departments of companies both locally and internationally.

Many times I have witnessed both myself and other business owners, executives and salespeople land a big order and then celebrate the occasion with close associates by throwing a party or have an evening out to pat ourselves on the back, only to experience non-payment of the account six months later.  A SALE IS NOT A SALE UNTIL THE MONEY IS COLLECTED.  Following are several points to consider when collecting:

  • State Your Terms Upfront: The first thing I would suggest after closing the sale or contract is to take a few minutes and carefully cover what the payment terms are.  Once someone commits to specific terms, they are very apprehensive about breaking the commitment or denying what they agreed to. Many salespeople and even business owners are afraid to stop at the time of closing and make the terms clear. There is a fear the client may get upset and not move forward.

Try this: “Mr Client, many business relationships start off great but fall apart because the terms of payment are not clear to both parties. May I take a moment to clarify the terms so that our relationship stays positive and intact?”

  • Utilise Credit Information: Fill out a credit application on new accounts and ones showing big changes in buying habits and be sure to check them out yourself or have your accounts check it out.  Remember, there is a reason why banks do credit checks on borrowers. If you are giving credit in essence you are a bank.
  • Service Your Customers Regularly: It is common for accounts to go into the 60 and 90 day column if the salesperson has not seen them for 60 or 90 days.  Every time you or one of your people show their face, the clients think about how much they owe you.  If you are there, it’s easy to mention the outstanding account. Stay in front of clients (especially slow payers) more often and you will see an improvement in cash flow and sales.
  • Don’t Lose Their Business: If someone owes you money, they often take their cash elsewhere.  The reason for this is that they are embarrassed that they owe you money and cannot pay. They still need supplies so they go elsewhere to buy. Explain to them that you do not want to lose the cash business and recommend they set up a reasonable payment plan on the old bill, and pay cash for their present orders.  This way you still get the business, which you want and you are reducing the old bill.
  • The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease: When someone promises to pay at 12 noon on Friday be sure you have a system of follow-up so that at 1:00pm you are calling that person if the money isn’t in. The reminder system can be electronic, done with a diary or using a pending or card file. If they don’t have the full amount, take the portion they have.

Client:                   “I didn’t pay the 5000 because I don’t have it”

Business Owner: “How much of the 5000 do you have?”

Client:                   “2500”

Business Owner: “Great, I’d be happy with the 2500 today and when do you think you can pay the other 2500?”

Note: What often happens if you don’t follow-up immediately they pay nothing to you because they didn’t have 5000. Then they pay the 2500 to someone they owe 2500 to.

  • Partial Payments On Promises: When someone says they will pay you 6000 on the 30th and it is now the 8th, attempt to collect a minimum of 10%-20% of that amount immediately and accept the balance at the end of the month.

Client:                   “I can pay you 6000 on the 30th

Business Owner: “I can accept a delay although I need 1200 today and then on the 30th you  can pay me the 4800. Can you do that for me?”

Client:                   “Okay”

Note: Research shows that if you get a partial payment on the promise, the month end promise is kept more often.

  • Be Specific: When someone promises to pay, for example on Friday then get that person to commit to a specific time, how they will pay, where they will pay and the amount agreed upon. Then get them to repeat it for clarity purposes and/or just before you hang up, re-state your understanding.

Client:                   “I can pay you 2000 on Friday”

Business Owner: “What time on Friday and where and how will you pay?”

Client:                “I will go to XYZ Bank in Cashville and deposit 2000 in cash into your account at 12 noon.”

Business Owner: “That’s great, Mrs Client, just before I hang up let me make sure I understand you correctly. On Friday at 12 noon, you will go to the XYZ Bank Branch in Cashville and you will deposit 2000 in cash into our account. Is that correct?”

Client:                   “Yes”

Business Owner: “Would you also fax or e-mail me a copy of your deposit slip.”

Client:                   “Okay”

  • Problem Solve: Be empathetic and try to assist the debtors by reviewing their situation and problem solve with them. One method the debtor could use is to contact all creditors and convince them that no one phone the debtor from the 1st to the 25th so the debtor can spend his or her time generating sales (more money to pay creditors) instead of hiding from creditors, making rash promises and feeling demotivated. This system works well if the client follows through by keeping the commitment. (Only suggest this if someone owes many creditors and is receiving collection calls daily).
  • Sell What’s Needed: If we sell someone something they don’t need they’ll often put us at the back of the list for payment.  Carefully assess the needs. The same applies to selling them more than they need or convincing them to take a longer contract than needed.
  • Post-Dated Cheques: Ask for post dated cheques or get them to sign a debit order for their commitment. In most cases debtors will do their best to cover it. They don’t want to negatively affect their banking record.
  • Be Flexible: Assess the type of person you are dealing with.  Some clients can accept direct-to-the-point collecting and others want to feel you value the personal relationship while you are collecting.  We all pay late at one time or another, so don’t get caught in ‘us’ versus ‘them’. They are still people who are often doing their best under the circumstances.
  • Use Courier, Cab, or Student: If a client tells you he has the cheque sitting on his desk, suggest that you’ll have a cab, or courier to pick it up right away.  Very quickly you’ll know whether he is being sincere.
  • Keep The Relationship In-Tact: Many of us make the mistake of going after the money without considering the value of keeping the relationship intact.  Effective collecting is when:

–  You get the money. (You are effective)

–  You do not put the other person down … and …

–  You still keep the relationship intact.

Remember: We make huge investments in advertising, marketing, selling and servicing to land and keep the client, yet in one rude or insensitive phone call from accounts you could wipe out that investment. Keep in mind we want to “Collect The Money And Keep The Client”.

  • Use Non-Blameful “I” Messages: Be conscious of your language. A blameful “you Message” can often put the other person down and put him or her on the defense. A 3 part “I Message” is much more effective in getting the money, while not putting the other person down and still collecting the money.

Example: “You Message Challenge”:

“You are always paying late Mrs. Client and you don’t seem to care that I have bills to pay too. Start paying on time.”

Example “I Message”:

1 Unacceptable Behavior In A Non-Blameful Way 2 The Concrete And Tangible Effects 3 Congruent Feelings
For the past few months your payments have been arriving late. It causes a domino affect and it has delayed me paying some of my suppliers on time. I get embarrassed paying late. Can you help me by paying on time.
  • Don’t Threaten and Don’t Fight: A threat means you are not serious.  I’d suggest that you be clear what will happen if the client doesn’t pay and then follow through, but only after using all other tactics.  Don’t fight … no one wins.  The client’s behavior should not control yours.
  • Trade-Offs: If it looks like the client will be a long time paying or is close to going out of business, consider taking products or services to clean up the debt or portion of.  Be sure there are no liens.  I know of one case where an electrician owed a business money.  The business owner got the unemployed electrician to do work for a friend and with the permission of the electrician, the friend paid the business owner instead of the electrician.  All three parties were happy.
  • Legal Action: Take legal action if you have to. Consult the small claims courts or a legal advisor to ensure you are doing it correctly.
  • Humour: With close associates and clients that I have a great relationship with, I’ve often used humour on a 60 day account by sending the following notice that reads like this:  “PLEASE COVER OR CLOSE YOUR LEFT EYE AND READ WHAT’S ON THE NEXT PAGE”.  On the next page it read:  “IF YOU DON’T PAY YOUR BILL THIS IS THE WAY YOU WILL READ FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS”.  I’ve had clients call me immediately, laughing and promising to pay.  You have to know your clients to do this.

I trust these points were a quick tune-up on collecting the money. Let me know about any successes you have with these tips. All the best!

“If you have found this blog article to be valuable for you, I would be grateful if you “shared” it with your Social Media Networks. Also feel free to circulate it by e-mail or other means internally within your organization or externally to your clients, suppliers and personal and business network. Thank-you!”    – Bill Gibson

Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is and his website is He can be reached at or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page:

Bill Gibson – Part 2 – Exceptional Customer Care From The Inside-Out

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Watch Out For The Dot

Where our mind goes, our energy flows! In customer service it is vital we focus on The White Space, not The Dot. Let me explain it.

Slide 1










When individuals at a meeting or seminar are asked by me what they see when they look at the above slide, they say “A Black Dot.”

What is actually there is a Dot with a “Whole Lot of White Space.” At work and in our life in general, we have a tendency to see the Dot (problems, why something won’t work, the negative side of a situation, what we don’t like, other people’s shortcomings, etc.) rather than the “White Space” (the opportunities, other innovative ways of doing things, the positives about a situation, the positive attributes and strengths of other people, etc.)

When we continually look at what we don’t like, what’s wrong, why things won’t work and are critical our energy gets drained and we become limited in our ability to find solutions and innovative ideas. Energy follows thoughts and feelings.

To have an exceptional marketing and creative mind, we need to be more “white space” focused than “dot” focused. (We are not saying to ignore negative realities and challenges that must be dealt with.)

What Are Some Dot Examples?


Respect Me Slide










  • The Job: When I read this quote to people at our seminars and ask people who the above quote is, they often say the customer, their wife or husband, or even their banker. In this case it is “The Job” or “Your Profession.”This is one of the finest quotes I have ever seen. It is so true for most of us. At the beginning of our new job or new company we are infatuated and excited…then we start noticing the problem areas and begin to overreact. Our jobs and companies provide many opportunities and benefits if we look for them. A good habit to start for yourself and others around you is to discipline yourselves to acknowledge 5 positives about your job or fellow workers before making a criticism.Within 60 seconds of meeting an employee of a business you and I know whether or not they are happy with their job that day. Our attitude about our job reflects either positively or negatively in our company marketing.Let’s take a look at a few more “Dot” focused situations, and see how they can be turned from “Dots” into “White Spaces” (Innovative Marketing and Servicing Ideas and Opportunities).
    • American Express Credit Cards:

    American Express Credit Card users often pull out their American Express Card to pay for a hotel room, pay for a meal or buy a product or service and get the following answer. “I’m sorry Ma’am we don’t accept American Express but we do accept Visa or MasterCard.” The question is, what credit card did the customer prefer to use? It wasn’t Visa or MasterCard or Diners. Many businesses say they don’t carry American Express for their customers because American Express charges an extra few percentage points than other credit cards plus they seem to pay slower. Most businesses have anywhere from 50% – 150% mark-up on their products and services. Is it wise to lose the sale and the customers goodwill over 3% – 4%?

    The customer may want to use American Express because their Visa or MasterCard may be over the credit limit. It could be because with a rent-a-car there is automatic car insurance when they use American Express or they are well protected against “fraudulent use of the card” or it may be the only credit card they have.

    Getting even with American Express because you or I may be disagreeing with their policies may lose customers, goodwill and profits we can’t recover…because the client often leaves and doesn’t buy or doesn’t come back.

    • “Change” for the Parking…“Change” for the Taxi…“Change” for the Telephone:

    It is amazing how often we walk into a Café (convenience store) or retail outlet and ask if they can make “smaller change” from a 50 Rand note to pay your parking etc. and the person behind the counter says it isn’t possible…because they don’t have enough “change”. Then you walk over to a shelf, pick up a chocolate bar, a bag of crisps, a soft drink and put them by the cash register with a 50 Rand Note and the person happily takes the 50 Rand Note and gives you “change.”

    What the person is saying, “we won’t help unless you buy.” That doesn’t make you feel positive about that business. As a matter of fact it leaves a negative impression in your mind.

    What if the store was innovative and each day fetched extra change and small rand bills from the bank and displayed the following sign on the door and at the cash register:

Do You Need Change

Which approach would earn your loyalty as a customer? Remember Innovative Attitudinal Marketing And Servicing comes from not doing what most other people and businesses do. Be different…be unique…and have a little fun.


  • Don’t Touch … Don’t Read:

Shops that display magazines and sell books, tapes, CD’s, etc. and have signs like “Don’t Touch … Don’t Read” don’t make us feel trusted or welcome.

What if the sign said?

Please feel free to sit down in the many chairs we offer you

and page through or read the books or magazines.

We like having you here!

How about the signs that say, “You Break It You Own It!”

What if the sign said?

If you happen to pick up an item and break it…

we know it wouldn’t be intentional.

Feel free to pick up items if you have a need to inspect it more thoroughly…

If an accident happens you can count on our understanding.

  • Display … Risk of Selling:

One time myself and Neil Godin were working with a chain of Petroleum Stations in Canada and I said to the owner of a specific station, “Why don’t you have a display of a dozen or so oil cans displayed here at the pumps? People with “used cars” always like to have an extra oil can or two in their “boot” for emergencies.”

He answered with the following statement. “No way, I did it once and I had a few “oil cans” stolen”. I replied, “Where did you put them?” He answered, “Back by the front of the Petroleum Station”. I said, “They are not there”. He quickly replied, “I put them inside where they couldn’t steal them because they still stole a couple of “cans of oil” when they were at the front.”

My reply was, “Why don’t you put them out front and display them even at the Risk of Selling Them?

As a matter of interest Neil and I convinced him to drain the next 12 cans of oil from the bottom, clean them up and display them at the gasoline pumps. If they got stolen it would only be empty cans of oil. You see, he got so focused on the Dot that he couldn’t see the positive options. How often do we do this?

  • Test Drive … Try It:

Most of us don’t buy a vehicle until we take it for a “test drive”. If we can’t taste it, touch it, lie on it, try it on, pick it up, smell it, listen to it, sit in it or view it, we most likely will not buy.

Years ago Ten Speed Press of Berkeley, California published my Boost Your Business In Any Economy book. Around the same time I had two ½ day speaking engagements to do for Toyota U.S.A. in the Midwest of the U.S.A. The speaking engagements were 2 weeks apart.

On the first Saturday, I presented my half day session and then made an offer to the group to visit me at my “table of books” and purchase my new book that was just published. About 15 – 20% of the 100 Dealer Principals and Sales Managers bought.

Two weeks later I spoke to 100 more Dealer Principals and Sales Managers, but this time I put a book on each chair and told them to feel free to “page through the book” while I’m speaking. At the end approximately 80% of them bought. I allowed them to Test Drive my book.

During a tour speaking at the “Big Idea” Conference sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth’s Venture Capital Company HBD Venture Capital and the S.A. Government’s Innovation Fund, I had a similar experience.

On day one 10 of the participants were at the product table looking at our three programs from the Business Success Series (Boosting Sales and Profits With Focus Selling, Turning

Entrepreneurial Spirit Into Business Opportunities and Making Personal And Corporate Marketing And Advertising Really Pay). They asked if we were going to be here with the products on day two. We asked “why”? They replied with answers like “I don’t have cash with me”, “my credit card or cheque book is at home”, or “I need to speak to my spouse or business partner”.

We responded by putting the products in a bag and said, “take them home tonight and look through them. If you decide you want them, you can pay tomorrow, if not, just bring them back”.

Most of them responded with, “You can’t do this, you don’t know me, how do you know you can trust me?”

I replied, “I can do this, the products are mine and I trust you”. 8 of the 10 people bought. At events we actually let people take the programs and electronically transfer the money at a later date. The vast majority paid immediately without follow-up.

Now, some business people would say, this isn’t wise. What if 2 of those people didn’t pay and kept the product?

Let’s look at it logically.

What if the cost of my individual programs is R150 and they retail for R700 at the event. My margin is R550. And, suppose the 10 people each take the 2 programs home. What if 2 of the 10 don’t pay? Here is what the financial results would be:

–               8 buy with a margin of R550 x 2 = R1 100

–               8 x R1 100 = R8 800

–               2 don’t pay (R150 lost x 2 = R300 x 2 = R600)

Results:  R8 800 Margin

R   600 Minus

R8 200 Gross Profit

The results could be R8 200 margin I would not have had.

I’m not suggesting you need to do this, but it works for us. “White Space Thinking” instead of “Dot Thinking” can make a difference.

  • Penny Wise and Pound (Rand) Foolish – “Refunds” & “Exchanges”:

This is an old saying that comes from the U.K. In South Africa it may be “Cents Wise and Rand Foolish”. How often as a consumer have you returned something to a business asking for a “refund” or “exchange” and they point at a sign that says, “No Refunds or Exchanges, sale is final!” Or, they scrutinize you, make you feel like a criminal, argue with you and finally begrudgingly give you a refund.

What we are saying here is, if you are going to give an exchange, refund, discount or credit do it in a positive way. Try this:

“I’m really sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you of having to make a special trip to bring this back. Here is your refund and a 20% off coupon on “sports jackets” that you can use anytime in the next 12 months. Be sure to come back. We value your business.”

Remember, most of us shop at large department stores and large retail chains because of their “No Hassle” exchange policies. It works. Focus on the “White Space” not the “Dot”.

What am I saying? It all starts deep on the inside with the right Attitudinal Marketing.

Where can you improve on your Attitudinal Marketing?

“If you have found this blog article to be valuable for you, I would be grateful if you “shared” it with your Social Media Networks. Also feel free to circulate it by e-mail or other means internally within your organization or externally to your clients, suppliers and personal and business network. Thank-you!”    – Bill Gibson

Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is and his website is He can be reached at or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page:

Bill Gibson – Part 1 – Exceptional Customer Care From The Inside-Out

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Companies often promise their customers superior service and superior products through media advertising. We just have to look around us to see the promises of different companies regarding service. Look at the customer service slogans below, used by companies now and in the past, to assure customers that their companies are the best option.

Examples of Customer Service Slogans:

  • “Good for You” – Spar
  • “Isn’t That What You Would Expect From Volkswagen” – VW
  • “Moving Forward” – Standard Bank
  • “Together We Can” – Metropolitan Life
  • “Experience Our Expertise” – Kathy Cohen
  • “Today, Tomorrow, Together” – ABSA
  • “Excellence Is Our Only Standard” – Auto Bavaria
  • “Professional Excellence – Small Enough To Care” – Otter Real Estate
  • “Sheer Driving Pleasure” – BMW
  • “Everything Keeps Going Right” – Toyota
  • “Expect Even More” – Knowledge Brokers International (Our Company)

An advertising agency or group of Marketing Executives coming up with a great Advertising Slogan does not necessarily guarantee better results.

How often have we heard advertising slogans like the ones above only to experience the opposite when we phone the business, arrive at their store or office or have a problem that has to be solved?

We believe Media Marketing (Advertising) has value, but we believe it has to be “backed up” from the inside-out. The following description of the Marketing & Selling & Servicing From The Inside-Out Model indicates the power of working from the Inside-Out.

Marketing and Selling and Servicing From The Inside Out

Slide 1









1. Attitudinal Marketing & Selling and Servicing

The backbone and real power of any business starts deep on the inside of a business. It starts with the attitude of management and the attitude of staff towards clients, each other, their products and services, their service approach, community and life in general.

A well-used survey statistic indicated that 68% of dissatisfied customers stopped shopping at a specific retail outlet because of the attitude of the staff and management. This percentage would probably hold true in almost any business. I think most of us would agree the reason we most often don’t go back is because of the attitude of the people serving us.

2.    Face To Face Marketing

The next most important part of Marketing And Servicing From The Inside-Out is the face-to-face handling of the customers and each other. This is the one-to-one sales and services communication that we have on the telephone, inside our business and outside the business. This is where we either get the positive or negative “word of mouth marketing” happening.

2.    Environmental Marketing

After Face-To-Face Marketing we then move to Environmental Marketing. The effectiveness of our on-site merchandising and signage inside and outside the business, combined with the direct sales aids that we use inside and outside of the business can make a huge impact on the success of the operation. This includes our web-site look and even our personal appearance.

3.    Extended Personal Marketing

Now, if we add in the next part, extended personal contact, we’re really starting to gain ground. We can’t go and see and talk to all of our customers personally but through extended personal contact we can. Some of the tools of the Extended Personal Marketing are the use of direct mail, direct e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, trade shows, workshops and participation in community projects. With these first four areas tuned up and working well, we are now ready to make media really work.

4.    Media Marketing

For the last and final area of inside-out marketing we have effective use of the media. Most of the time, media is not there to actually sell the product, it is there to assist us to have initial credible contact with the customer. By maximising the first four power points we can now back up our advertising promises. This way we develop positive “word of mouth marketing” which is the most powerful form of marketing a company can have.

Unfortunately Marketing has been a word that has been overused and made to sound complicated to the average business person. My definition of Marketing is:

“All those things we do in a business that assist in developing a more satisfying relationship with not only our present and potential customers but with the community at large; the end result being a successful business.”

Staff handling, collecting money, creating a growth oriented work environment and how we emotionally feel are examples of areas not usually viewed as part of the marketing function.

In my opinion, they are an important part of the marketing function because they can directly or indirectly affect the relationship with the customer. For example, a manager that speaks sharply to her front line staff often sees the staff speaking sharply to customers. The domino effect makes employee handling an important part of marketing. Healthy relationships provide effective marketing.

Why People Don’t Come Back


Slide 2









The above commonly used research statistics indicates how impactful the right attitude is when dealing with present and potential clients. The combination of Unadjusted Complaints (which often reflects on attitude) and Indifferent Attitude of Management and Staff total 82% of the reasons why people don’t come back. These statistics support that marketing, selling and servicing is much more effective by starting with Attitudinal Marketing and Selling and Face To Face Marketing.

Note that only 9% of the reason is price alone. Clients, customers and buyers often use price as the reason because it is less personal and they may not feel comfortable telling you it is your lack of skill, attitude, they don’t trust you, your product, your service or don’t like your looks.

As sales or service people we are quick to accept price as the reason why they didn’t come back or didn’t buy from us. That way we do not have to closely scrutinize the part we played in losing the business. We don’t have to take accountability for the loss. Price or rates is a great way to blame an outside factor I’ve got no control over.

It is wise to be honest with yourself and carefully look at the real reasons why you may lose business or not land a contract. That way you grow and improve.

Our attitude is the state of our mind. We knowingly or unknowingly choose a response to any person, situation, thing or thought. Each response is generally viewed as being either positive or negative. The attitude of salespeople, management and support staff in a business has more effect on the success or failure of that operation than any other single factor.

Ask yourself if “Indifferent Attitude of Management and Staff” holds true the majority of the time when you choose not to go back to a business.

A dedication to making our customers feel welcome, happy and satisfied through their encounters with us, our people, our business and advertising is Attitudinal Marketing and Attitudinal Servicing. It is the ‘prime’ driving force of any business.

In Part 2 of Exceptional Customer Care From The Inside-Out we will focus on minimising the Dot and maximising The White Space in customer service.

“If you have found this blog article to be valuable for you, I would be grateful if you “shared” it with your Social Media Networks. Also feel free to circulate it by e-mail or other means internally within your organization or externally to your clients, suppliers and personal and business network. Thank-you!”    – Bill Gibson

Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is and his website is He can be reached at or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page: