The Start Check

check4“If the client doesn’t have enough confidence in me to give me a check before I start the job, why should I have the confidence they’re going to pay me when I finish it?”

My friend was explaining to me how he was able to always secure funding from the client before he started the job. Getting sufficient payment from the client seemed effortless to him.

What was his secret?

Well, the secret is surprisingly obvious and painfully simple. A subtle but powerful change in the way you collect funds at the beginning of the project can make all the difference.

The key change is this: Once they are sold on using your product or service, ask them for astart check instead of a deposit.

Why? Because start is an action word – deposit is passive one.

A “start check” is proactive in that it implies immediate action and potential results and benefits. A “deposit check” implies just letting it sit there until they decide how or when to move ahead.

This slight change in wording has the advantage of focusing the attention on the fact that things are going to begin happening on the project the minute that payment is made.

As the parting with funds seems antipathetic to human nature in general, this change in the focus of attention makes the process less painful.

Also, this basic principle of providing services is relevant:

The perceived value of any service tends to diminish significantly once the service is completed.

When the client is under time pressure to get the sales up or make their quarterly targets, they are willing to agree to nearly anything if you can help them accomplish this.

However, once you have begun work or have accomplished some of the objectives, the problem seems less significant than it was at the beginning. Your solution now has less perceived value, as the pain has diminished considerably as a result of your work.

Make sure you get the start check before you begin and it will be easier on both of you.

If the client wants you to get started on his project, but has reservations as to whether or not he will be able to continue or fund the whole thing, break it into separate areas with each step of the program to be funded when it is initiated.

Get a start check for each program step before you begin any work. They’ll get the benefit and you’ll get the work.

The client who says, “We just need you to get started on this now, don’t worry, the money will be there,” is asking you to solve a problem for them that will no longer exist once you start on the project.

It is nearly axiomatic that if they say, “don’t worry about the money,” you should worry about the money!

Never apologize for asking to have a start check before you begin work. Money and funding has a strange way of disappearing and being used for other more current issues once their immediate problem is handled. The pressure on them is always at its highest before you begin.

The clear message to them should be that once you start on their project, you are directing the engine of your company (attention, time and energy) in their direction to solve their problems. You make commitments, schedule time and personnel, buy supplies for delivery, engage other vendors, creative people etc. This is part of your “stock in trade” as a company.

Your company resources are being spent, at the moment you begin to allocate them in the direction of this client. You have a responsibility to your company to spend us these assets a manner that is consistent with the viability and solvency of your company.

If you spend this resource without securing payment first at some reasonable percentage, you have now wasted something that can never be gotten back. Time, money, personnel, space, mental energy, creative thought, attention and other costs, all are being spent with nothing in return. Not exactly a recipe for success in business.

Here are some examples of the correct use of the “start check” concept in use.

Lets say you have what seems to you to be a serious plumbing problem at home on the weekend that you have company coming. You need it handled immediately and it is very important to you. You’ll pay almost anything to make this problem go away, now! The perceived value of a solution is at its highest level. You finally find a plumber who is willing to come out on the weekend and he can be here in an hour. The plumber arrives and you begin to think in terms of the problem being solved – your hopes begin to rise.

Now, if that plumber is wise, he will investigate the problem and before starting to fix anything, will take this next step. He should say, “I can see what the problem is, and I can fix the problem today, but it will cost you $200.” What the plumber is really saying is that he knows he should nail down the price first, before he starts.

This is his version of the “start check.” He knows that once the problem has been solved, your perception of the value of his service will be far less than it was at the beginning.

Normally, you will pay what he asks without question, as he is seen as the solution to the embarrassment and inconvenience you will experience if the problem remains unhandled. Also, he is here, now, and says he can make this bad experience all go away. You WANT him to get started and the sooner the better. You’ll pay his fee and happily so.

Isn’t it funny how much you will happily pay for a ice-cold bottle of water on a sweltering day at an outside sporting event; a gallon of gas for your empty tank on a deserted off ramp in the middle of the Arizona desert at 1:00AM; a doctor who can give exactly the right diagnosis and prescription for your physical ailment; or the computer tech who solves a problem in 3 minutes that has plagued you for days in preparing that important document.

When you no longer need something handled, the value of the solution seems insignificant.

So, it is your duty and responsibility as a salesperson to close the deal and secure payment at the best possible moment. Usually that is when the pain of the problem is the highest – before you start work.

Get that “start check” for the good of you and the client.

Using the concept and wording of the start check also accomplishes three specific benefits for both the buyer and the seller:

1. The start check buys the “mind share” and creative energy of the one delivering the service or selling the product.

2. Use of this concept takes the attention off the money and puts it where it should be – on the client receiving the benefits of what you have to offer.

3. It has the effect of getting everyone’s attention going in the same direction at the same time so the greatest amount of energy can be focused on accomplishing the goal.

So the concept of the start check is no longer a secret. It is yours to use as you see fit the minute you understand it.

Now, let’s get out there and put it to use.

daniel w. jacobs
© 2002-2030, all rights reserved


One Response to “The Start Check”

  1. Love this writing, direct, clean, interesting and useful!!!

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