September 11, 2016

What about: “Sorry, company policy expressly prohibits advance payment for services”

One of the great things about pricing your services instead of tracking hours and billing for your time in arrears, is that it enables you to ask for 100% payment in advance. I’ve talked about how and why to do this at length in the past so I’ll quickly summarize the approach:

At this point, the prospect might try to pass the buck by claiming that they just can’t pay in advance and need to pay you net-30 (or 60, or 120) because company policy expressly prohibits advance payment for services.

This is a form of the “We’ll Never Get This Through Accounting” discount request discussed in the Learn Your Lines series.

Unless you are in a desperate cash flow position, my advice to students in this situation is always the same:

Stick to your guns.

True buyers can and will work around rigid policies if they know they really need you.

But what exactly should you say?

A polite No is usually not enough because the odds are good that they will have to state their case to someone in the organization over which they have no direct control. This means that you need to arm your contact with a convincing narrative that they then use on their boss or someone in accounts payable.

Some approaches I’ve used successfully in the past:

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

These lines (individually and in combination) have worked for me, but they certainly don’t always work. If you’re working with a large organization (or if you’re not talking to the real buyer) your chances of success are probably fairly low. Regardless, I recommend you stick to your guns. If you capitulate, you’ll be framing your relationship as “master/servant” instead of a “partnership of peers”.