Let’s pretend a stranger walked up to you, handed you $1,000, and said, “All you have to do is give me $200 back.”
Would you do it?
On paper, it makes perfect sense. You’d make $800 instant profit. Why wouldn’t you do that?
The fact is, though, most of us would NOT go through with it. We’d look at the cash in our hand and question it. We’d challenge it, because deep down, we’re all innately afraid of money.
We’re so afraid of money that we often forget to ask our customers for it. We think introducing the idea of money and discussing how we’ll get paid is somehow indelicate or even gross.
Have you ever thought, “We can’t talk about money! We have a relationship. I’ll just bring it up when we’re playing golf next week.”
We have this overdeveloped fear of money and we’ve let it permeate our culture of sales. We forget to ask for the money, and as a result, we don’t get paid.
Then we have to hold very “uncomfortable” conversations — as opposed to “honest” conversations — later. It’s a no-win situation for everyone involved.
I know from experience. For the longest time, I struggled with a fear of money. Here’s how I overcame it…
Lessons From the Paperboy
For my very first real job, I was a newspaper carrier. I got my first paper route at 13 years-old and delivered papers all the way through college. It was a great job, and I was pretty good at it.
Today, of course, people pay for their newspapers online or send their payment in the mail. But when I first started, us paperboys actually had to go door to door and collect money. Most people paid cash and a few people would even write checks for the $2.40 monthly cost.
There was a problem, though. We were supposed to collect payments for the upcoming month’s newspapers, but most people didn’t like that. I’d hear something like, “I haven’t gotten the newspaper yet, so why should I pay you now?”
This objection is what prompted my fear of money. Instead of insisting that they pay me upfront, I put it off and tried to collect payment later. I was afraid of having the uncomfortable conversations, so I gave in to their objections. And this went on for years.
There was one customer in particular who’d managed to avoid me for six months. When I knocked on his door and told him he owed me almost $15, he was furious.
This particular gentleman actually worked for a competing newspaper, so reading our paper was just part of his job… and he hated it. He didn’t want to pay for it, and he resented the fact that he had to. So, he took out all of his anger and frustration on me.
The reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I said, “Sir, I understand what you’re saying. You’re not going pay me for the newspapers. So I will no longer deliver them to you.” I walked away feeling justified, and he stood on his front porch, fuming with anger.
It was at that moment that I overcame my fear of money.
Of course, he still had to pay and my general manager collected the money later that week. But that interaction forever changed the way I looked at money and laid the foundation for two very important lessons…
1. Expect To Be Paid
If you expect to be paid, people will treat you differently.
Set the clear expectation right from the beginning. If paying you is viewed as normal behavior, they’ll expect to do it.
If you make getting paid something that’s out of the ordinary, people will find other ways to get what they want from you without paying for it.
2. Work From a Position of Strength
Getting paid is a transaction, not a negotiation. If you think of getting paid for your products or services as a negotiation on a regular basis, you’ve already made a mistake.
But one negotiation principle that’s helpful in defining the transaction is to work from a place of strength.
If you deliver all of your services and you haven’t been paid, you no longer have a position of strength and you’ve given your customer the power to do whatever they want.
Don’t make the same mistakes I made in those early days as a paperboy. Instead of being driven by a fear of money, learn to love money. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for money, and deliver quality products and services that are worth paying for.