Do you Take the Money and Run?


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

It may sound obvious, but to many small business owners it’s not. We get busy chasing the next paycheck, drumming up new business, creating new products and marketing our butt’s off and we neglect to finish the sale on the client who already paid.

I recently made a BIG purchase – putting in a pool in my backyard. After my husband interviewed several contractors, he chose who he thought was best suited for the job. The contracts were signed, we agreed upon a completion date of the end of September and there was quickly a big hole. Progess was going well until about 2 weeks in when it STOPPED! My husband called the contractor to find out what the status was. No one answered. And the big whole remained, well a big hole and not a usable pool. He continued to call the contractor for a week. Still, no one returned his call.

Then, a break through! The contractor showed up at the house while my husband was at work. I ran outside and introduced myself. Then I said “Where have you been? My husband has been trying to reach you for over a week.” He gave me a confused look and said what are you talking about? I explained that my husband had repeatedly called his wife (and project manager) over the course of the week and hadn’t received a call back. He gives me a confused look, then starts to berate me for my husband’s decision to move some plumbing around at the job site. I calmly explained that my husband had lost his patience because his calls weren’t being returned. So he took the job into his own hands.

After speaking with his wife, the contractor learned that their office phones had been out of service for a few days. Rather than apologize for not receiving my husband’s messages or promptly returning the calls, he made excuses. “We give you a packet with 5 phone numbers to call when we start digging. It’s not our fault that our office phones were down for two days. You should have called one of the other numbers we gave you.” Then he continued to berate me, the customer, for taking the job into our own hands.

While I understand this is an extreme case of not finishing the sale, there are lessons here for every small business owner. What does finishing the sale even mean?

  • Ensure the product or sevice is delivered on time at the schedule you agreed upon when payment was made. Set expectations as to when the product or service will be complete right when you make the sale so your client isn’t disappointed. You can’t be too clear or too explicit here. Confusion is the # 1 reason for customer dissatisfaction.
  • Make sure the product or service is delivered in the condition agreed upon. If you promise an archivally framed piece, make sure you deliver it archivally framed. Check and double-check your order form.
  • Continue to meet your client’s needs, after the sale. In the example I gave above, our phone calls weren’t returned. But rather than focusing on the fact that we felt abandoned through the process, the contractor focused on what we did WRONG in his eyes and shifted blame.
  • Be just as excited and available to talk with or make an appointment with a client who has already paid, but not picked up their order as you are when you talk to a new client who you are ‘selling’ on using you. Don’t let the already paid client feel like they’ve been tossed aside for something new and better, even if the sale wasn’t as large as you expected.

Your current clients are your best source for referrals. Unfortunately for my pool builder, he didn’t realize this. Not only will he NEVER get a referral from me, he’ll get a lot of bad word-of-mouth. What do you do to ensure great after the sale service?

During the 10.10.10 SalesSummit, our fantastic speakers will talk about some additional strategies you can use to make your clients feel special after the sale. If you haven’t registered yet, check it out. It’s free from 10 am to 10 pm on 10.10.10. No matter how advanced you are, you’ll learn at least one thing to boost your sales averages during the busy holiday season…guaranteed. And if you can’t join us on 10.10.10, you can pre-purchase the event .mp3 recordings after you register through 10.9.10 for just $59.

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