We’ve long known that once a sale is made, the customer experience continues into implementation and support, and later into the invoicing and collections process. That means the skill sets of successful sales representatives can also be helpful for AR and collections professionals.
We sat down with Griffin, a member of our sales team, to talk about the ways he builds and maintains relationships. Here are two key takeaways from sales that AR professionals can use in their customer communications.
- "Be empathetic." In sales, it’s helpful to remember that the person answering the phone has a lot of people calling them every day. Their interaction with you is just one of many that they have on a daily basis. Thinking about what the everyday is like for those on the other end of the line is helpful because it can help your conversation stand out. It also turns what may ordinarily be a stressful call (whether it is a sales call or collections call) into something a little more pleasant.
In collections, this means being cognizant of the time and attention limitations of who you are speaking with. Get to the point fast. Provide productive follow up conversations anchored by time, purpose of discussion, outcomes, and even calendar invites. Make the next step easy for them by providing them with not just their invoice information, but how to follow up on it. Anticipate the complexities before they occur. Every additional action required between them and the outcome you want will lose momentum, regardless of how willing they are to work with you. Finally, take the time to show appreciation for the time they do give you.
- "Remember that this is a relationship." Business means transactions between people, but that doesn’t mean interactions have to be transactional. In sales, making your communication a people-to-people instead of a business-to-business one goes a long way because it builds rapport, and rapport is like lubricating a joint to make all operations smoother. Establishing a relationship also means gaining an internal champion, and having one can help nudge things in your favor during critical times.
In collections, this means understanding that there’s more to Betty than being from Accounts Payable. Once you build rapport, it’s more likely that you’ll have better conversations with her about the account status, and the more proactively she will engage you to solve problems your account faces. If you remember that invoicing and collections are a customer experience, you are more likely to have partnership in maintaining the account instead of being someone to get quickly off the phone.
Departments must work together as a team to provide a seamless and holistic experience for each customer. After all, maintaining constant touchpoints, understanding the customer’s obstacles with a consultative and empathetic ear, and facing quota based metrics of success are three realities that sales and AR teams share. These are already the approaches that sales and customer success use, and it should continue into a customer’s invoicing and payment experience.
However, this may be hard to do when your customer count is growing rapidly, or if your invoice volume is overwhelming. In cases like this, growing headcount to maintain that level of person-to-person customer service may not be realistic. And that’s where workflow streamlining softwares like YayPay come in to help.