Archive for June, 2010


Collection Strategies, Management Rewards, Management Strategies No Comments »


Dear Manager,

As a company and as a manager, an area that impacts all aspects of our business and the decisions to be made is cash. It’s true. Cash, and our ability to fund our commitments and growth, is paramount to any healthy organization. While financial matters are normally considered a separate department of our companies, their implications seep into all branches of our organization. The adequate flow of cash is king!

If a significant manufacturer or customer falls behind in their financial commitments, this impacts both cash and future sales. If a significant manufacturer or customer declares bankruptcy, this impacts profitability, and our ability to invest in our growth. Collections and accounts receivable are often a company’s most sensitive subject.

With this issue, I would like to share some fundamentals that might assist in your own cash collection process. It’s such a festive topic; I’m surprised it has taken me nearly six year to address it!

Having worked with dozens of companies over the years, I have seen numerous styles and approaches to the collections process. Some were highly successful, some were heavy handed and adversarial, still others reflected total mismanagement and a skewed sense of priority to collections. Ones approach is critical to overall success and the continued growth and prosperity of the company.

In any business relationship, there is an assumed mutual commitment for performance. This assumption generally proceeds with little direct conversation or specific pledge. It is simply assumed that if I deliver, you will pay. All parties proceed on good faith, and with mutual benefit of the doubt.

Problems only arise when this assumption and commitment to fulfill ones obligation becomes compromised. In most cases this is a simple oversight or short-term aberration. We have all found ourselves in this situation. It is critical for credit managers to remind themselves of this daily. Having developed this foundation, I also believe that this benefit of the doubt has a brief window of opportunity! Accepting debt, commitment, and accountability, are all very personal issues.

We also have the individuals and companies that thrive in an arena of deceit, misinformation and failed commitments. This is where we will find a condescending approach by individuals looking to create a problem where none exists! These are the individuals to whom this issue is unfortunately dedicated.

In some instances, the parties might have the very best intentions, albeit very poorly conceived. In the absence of proper financial resources they have chosen to roll the dice. They are betting on the come; betting that they can find success prior to their creditors landing on their doorstep. Yes, they are using our valuable resources to finance their dreams! I believe this approach to business to be deceitful, self-serving and dishonest.


Had we, as managers, wanted to be in the financial industry we would have become bankers! What is the difference between purchasing with no ability to pay, and stealing? Very little. Individuals such as these operate under the guise of businesspeople, when in truth they are common thieves.

There are numerous effective and creative approaches to this type of individual. With practice, the process of dealing with them can become even entertaining in its ability to hold them accountable, for perhaps the first time.


I always begin with a lot of questions in the hopes they will begin to dig themselves into the proverbial hole. Questions like: “Have we not fulfilled our original commitment?” or “Are you dissatisfied with the service we have provided?” or, “ I have had to assume that this is a situation of our making, as I know your intention was to fulfill your commitment to us!” It is critical that one approaches these probing questions with no preconceptions or edge in ones voice. You are asking for genuine answers to very fair questions!

This type of dialogue will, in the very least, open some doors and force their hand. If there are indeed financial problems, this is your opportunity to bring them to light. I would also ask, “Have you tried to contact us regarding your situation?

These individuals rely on “the con.” It is our job to gently but effectively use their words against them. Explain that you would like to be able to give them some additional time, but that your hands are tied. In fact, your own position is now being evaluated by their performance! Suggest that you truly need their help to get yourself “out of a jam.”

When asking for their payment plan, be ultra specific in your conversation and your notes. If payment is expected in ten days, does this mean it will be mailed in ten days or in your hands? Are they absolutely sure that this is “NOW” a commitment that they can fulfill? Do they understand that if they fail to do so, your mutual relationship will be in jeopardy?

One key to this conversation is to maintain an earnest and sincere approach to finding its resolution. If your approach is firm but fair, it cannot be judged critically. Do not give them any personal reason to justify not fulfilling this obligation. This individual will create any possible rationalization in order to defend their “dead-beat mentality.” Don’t do them any favors!

There are also individuals who in fact have the resources but have made the profound decision to bestow this financial burden on you. How gracious of them! There are two significant triggers that will motivate a response. The first relates to the fact that there are priority vendors. If a key vendor goes unpaid, they may suffer significant financial impact. This may impact their personal job security. Be sure to analyze your own position of strength prior to all conversation. Determine their prior order depth and purchasing cycles in addition to their prior payment history.

The second factor cannot be denied. Individuals oil the squeaky wheel. Become a squeaky wheel. These individuals live in the tomorrow, never the current moment, and are banking on your lack of follow through. Establish a very clear understanding that you are not simply going to go away. On more than one occasion an individual has suggested they would immediately write and mail me a check. Whenever logistically possible, respond with, “terrific, I (or one of my associates) will be over in an hour to pick it up!” Create a significant sense of urgency to fulfill this obligation, today!

Over the years I was confronted on occasion with a manufacturer we represented who made the choice not to pay the commissions due our organization and sales associates. I would proceed to explain that commissions are not just simply another accounts payable in their system. Commissions are payroll. It only seemed fair to ask, “How would you feel if you didn’t get your paycheck on time?”

These remunerations represented the livelihood of my team. Yes, it represents bread, butter, mortgages and braces. By the time a commission is due, we have completed our full investment in that sale. In many cases, the customer had already paid the manufacturer! Anything less than a full, complete and immediate payment was simply intolerable.

For me, the most effective approach and choice of words was: “Let’s not be confused. We have fulfilled our obligation, and you have my money in your pocket!”

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Strategies, Sales Strategies No Comments »

Vol. LXV

Dear Manager,

Have you ever considered the role advantageous timing plays for us as managers, let alone our entire business structure? Similarly, poor timing plays an equal role for many as we avoid the landmines on the path to success. Both of these factors play a significant role for each of us. But how do you truly know when timing is on your side? The single factor that brings a bounce to the step of all managers is momentum.

When we have it, life is good, and obstacles are perceived as mere bumps in the road. There is no greater confidence than when you have momentum on your side!


This sentence suggests just how important momentum is. When “Big Mo” is on your side, at least for a time, you become a good fortune magnet. Some managers don’t take Mo very seriously, or have come to the conclusion that only fate will bring good fortune. Yes, even poor managers find positive momentum on occasion. Better managers create their own fate!

Great managers are in a constant state of striving to either maintain or recapture this often-elusive phenomenon. While we can always set the stage for it, we can rarely fully insure it. All the planning and preparation in the world cannot guarantee you momentum. Sometimes the planets must be properly aligned in your favor as well! This is not to suggest, however, that we should cast our fate to the wind, or enroll in a class on celestial configuration.

Now that we have better defined its attributes, how do we create this wave (I know, only the moon can affect the tides!), and ride it as long as possible? First of all, we must accept that we can only control the mental aspects of momentum. The mental performance of any company most effectively starts at the top.


O.K., congratulations, Big Mo has tagged you and you’re it. Are you enthusiastically translating this heightened positive company image to your clients and staff? Momentum and confidence are very contagious. Now is the time to strike up the band, opportunistically taking full advantage of “the good times.” Build the biggest bandwagon you can find; you will be amazed at how fast everyone jumps on board!

When Mo is in your pocket, the question should be, just how great is our potential, how deep is the well, and how long is the rainbow? It is common for individuals to underestimate their full advantage in these “Mo”-mentous times. Remind yourself that there is no form of measurement for maximum potential; it is now time to pull out all the stops!

We must also remember that Mo can be fickle by nature. We should learn to not only understand it but to learn to court its many virtues. As suggested, this is your time to shine. With so many admiring your bandwagon, it’s time to recruit only the best to hop on board. Are there clients with major potential who would benefit from your team’s visible momentum? Are there individuals with significant skills whom you can entice to join you? Are there competitors that are particularly vulnerable at this time? Have you restructured your goals and objectives to reflect your enhanced and evolving potential? Often, our original objectives were developed and established in less momentous times.

The time to seize the prize is fleeting. This sense of urgency should only be equaled to that in the down side of your cycle! Yes, as with all aspects of life, your momentum will cycle from its frenzied highs. Take heart, I have seen cycles sustain their momentum for years, if not decades. Strong managers wake each day in a state of paranoia! At all costs, prolong it!

This can be accomplished with a complete analysis and understanding of what brought Mo to your doorstep. Was it a decision you implemented as a manager that worked in your favor? Is there an individual or group that inspired this trend? Are there competitors or market conditions that left the door open to you? Once you have defined its qualities, zero in on sustaining it!


Oh yes, momentum can be very fleeting. Out of the blue, in the wink of an eye, high tide becomes low tide, just ask Alaska Airlines. For twenty-five years, they enjoyed a reputation as one of the most highly regarded airlines in the industry with a safety and satisfaction record admired and acknowledged by all. A number of years ago with the tragedy of Flight 261 from Puerto Vallarta, and in the months to follow, all of this changed. I was on an Alaska flight to Puerto Vallarta a week after Flight 261 was lost. The silence and personal reflection on this flight was deafening. No one wanted any part of this bandwagon!

In the weeks to follow, report after report of potential problems surfaced regarding possible mismanagement at the airlines. How much heart breaking news and publicity can one company sustain? Perhaps it is warranted, over a period of months and years they once again generally well thought of.

The point is in the fact that when things are on the skids, when momentum is against you, you are the most vulnerable. In fact, Big Mo has jumped ship leaving the pieces to Bad Mo. Yes, momentum can reverse its thrust and work against you! This is when you earn your stripes as a manager.

As a team you must first accept your current set of circumstances. Denial will only delay positive steps that need to be immediately implemented. Understand that the human factor for your clients and staff creates its own set of obstacles. Effectively, do your very best to reduce the emotional trauma of your current circumstances.

Communication and a measured response is the foundation for slowing the back-slide. Alaska, in fact, was noted for their timely, sincere and proactive form of communication. You can only earn a sense of benefit of the doubt! Their biggest problem was the weeks and weeks with little good news. As managers, we must shine the most positive light on any set of circumstances. If we don’t voice a positive and confident perspective, who will? This does not suggest we gloss over or be less than forthright with the reality at hand. Be empathetic to those who have also assumed their own losses in this process.

Proactively address all concerns or rumors that may present themselves. Understand that bad news travels fast, and there are those who will delight in your misfortunes. This is not a time for the weak of heart, or to be thin skinned.

Keep in mind that time heals most wounds. In fact, the grace of time and the natural cycles in life are on your side and may be your greatest ally.

Create a focus, define your target, and stay on it. When Big Mo was on your side, decisions may have seemed very simple; now they are all tough. Now everyone has an opinion and can second-guess all prior decisions. Listen to the same voice that confidently directed your decision making process in more successful times!

Big and Bad Mo will touch all of us in the span of our career. Our challenge is in protecting the good times, and minimizing their alternative.

Remember, as managers we are never quite as good as we are perceived on our best days, and we are never quite as bad as we are perceived on our worst days.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM