The softly, softly approach- why it almost never works.

We had a call yesterday from someone who was owed $20,000. The invoices had been outstanding for over 2 months and every request for payment was met with an empty promise. In the last 2 weeks they’d stopped responding altogether. This lady was reluctant to push harder as she was worried she would lose them as a customer, a very common dilemma. So she called us asking for advice and if she could buy a softly worded template from us to use. As soon as she said this I knew some tough love needed to be dispensed, some hard truths needed to be told. So I did. I told her she was the reason she wasn’t being paid. I explained that this customer was using her. As a bank, as a free line of credit, as a tool to make himself feel superior and in control. And if she wanted to be paid it needed to stop. Immediately. So I dictated a very strongly worded email for her to send to him. It gave him until 5pm today to pay the full amount otherwise she would be proceeding with enforcement action immediately and without notice. We explained his company credit file was at risk and significant extra costs would likely be added. There was no niceties or fluff. No “much appreciated, many thanks”. Just the facts. In plain english. Anxiously but with a new-found sense of empowerment, she hit send. And guess what? He is paying the full amount today. Just called her apologizing profusely and pleading with her to hold fire on the action.
There is a time and a place for friendly reminders and benefit of the doubt. Absolutely. Softly, softly has its place. But at the start. Not after 2 months and countless broken promises. Be too nice and you will be walked over. Period. If you want your money you have to go and get it. They have it. As evidenced by the above. You just need to put your foot down, stop enabling them and start putting yourself and your business first. This lady will be $20,000 better off later today because she did.
The softly, softly approach- why it almost never works.

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