When you let your clients delay payment, they’ll start to question their decision. But when you ask for upfront payments, your clients become more committed to you. Michelle Weinstein’s guest today is Paul Ross, Master Sales Trainer and author of Subtle Words That Sell. Paul explains that you’re not selling products or services. What you do is you’re selling decisions. You’re extending an opportunity for the person to be more successful with your offer. With upfront payments, you give your clients the opportunity to be committed! Tune in and attract committed clients!
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Why Upfront Payments Attract Committed Clients With Paul Ross
We have a very special guest that has been a veteran here at the show but I want to share some exciting news that you might have heard. I have a new app available to all of you. For those that absolutely hate the sales process and want a done-for-you solution, this is the solution in the palm of your hands that will help you manage your leads. Figure out what to send them like videos, document checklists, questionnaires and a series of 24 emails to follow along with them for almost two years if they don’t become a client right away.
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Now, let’s welcome our very special guests to the show. Our special guest is Paul Ross. He’s an author, speaker, trainer, Master Hypnotist and the Master of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Over the last many years, he’s taught tens of thousands of people the power of language to persuade, influence, sell, heal and turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We are going to talk about that in a way where you can get rid of your accounts receivables. If you have AR, it can go to zero. If you send out invoices and spend a lot of your time focusing on collections, then this episode is for you. Let’s welcome Paul to the show. Welcome, Paul to the show.
Thank you, Michelle. It’s always an honor and a pleasure to speak to your audience and to you, who I admire and look up to as an absolute genius.
I think you are a genius too and this one is going to be a great show. Paul will introduce himself. He has been here on the show a couple of times but now we are talking about the psychology of why getting the payments upfront has your clients more committed? Why getting upfront payments versus as you go and the differences between the two. Which one is the best for you and your accounting firms? That’s what we are talking about with Paul Ross. Paul, before we start, can you share with everyone, a 30-second to 1 minute, of who you are.
I am an author of the book, Subtle Words That Sell. I am a hypnotist. I have taken principles from classic hypnosis and applied them to sales. My basic principle is you are never selling your product or service. You are always selling decisions and good feelings about decisions. Decisions that are delayed are usually decisions that never get made.If you allow your clients to delay payment, then they'll start to question their own judgment. Click To Tweet
I think that’s a great segue into this conversation because I speak to a lot of accountants. I know there are a lot of you here that use different software programs that send out engagement letters and proposals to a client and then there’s the place then a link for them to pay. However, I have found that with that problem, when it’s delayed, the decision to pay right away because payment is a form of currency that commits the client to you and enrolling with your firm is seldom made. A lot of the accountants here spend a lot of time billing their clients 9 or 12 months after the work is due and then they have a big account receivable. Paul, let’s hear about the overview of the mind and how people buy from you.
Let me tell you something that reflects on the story that occurred to me. I was hired to be the star of a documentary up in Canada. They wanted to pay me half up front and then half when I’ve got there. I called my sister who’s an entertainment attorney. She said, “Paul, talent doesn’t fly until the check is deposited in full in my trust account. Half is distributed to you now and half you get as soon as you have completed filming.” The instant you are done and they call cut, you text me and I will wire the money into your account.
Here are the psychology people tend to feel about us according to the way they treat us, not the other way around. Most people think the way they treat us is based on the way they feel about us. No. It’s the other way around. Once you allow your client to delay making that decision to pay you, they then begin to question not only their own judgment but they begin to question, whether you are of sufficient value because after all you don’t delay, deny or stall someone, which is bringing great value to the table.
Even if you initially convince them that hiring you is the best possible decision and by the way, you are never selling your product or service, you are always selling decisions and good feelings about decisions. Even if you had that initial discussion and they initially think, “This is a good idea.” If you allow them to delay payment, they are going to begin to question their own judgment and, whether you are somebody to who they want to fully commit.
Remember, you are selling and decisions are good feelings about decisions and here’s the key. Nowadays, people don’t trust their ability to make a good decision, especially when it involves laying out what could be seen as a substantial sum of money. They have to know, like and trust you, that’s true but the missing piece of the equation that I have seen is they have to be able to trust their own decisions. If you let them delay and pay over time, they are going to begin to doubt that decision. You then wind up doing all this work before being paid in full.
Also, when you let people pay over time, you may have a contract but the expense of going to enforce it with an attorney is more expensive than what the contract is worth. I have seen this happen with clients. I always want to get paid upfront because that way the client is going to value me more but then the client can’t, “You know my spouse doesn’t think this is a good idea. I’m sorry. I’ve got hit with a sudden bill.” You collect upfront. One of the things I may want to talk about is the mindset that keeps accountants away from believing they can’t ask for the payment upfront.
That’s what I want to segue into. For someone who bills after the work was done 6 to 9 months later, pays as they go or for someone who meets with a client, and then takes the passive approach, which I call it, where you send the engagement letter or proposal along with the link to pay. You just wait and hope that they click the link and move through, which then you have lost sales, missed opportunities because there’s not a good follow-up system in place is probably my guess. We have all of these challenges ahead of us, and then you have the mindset piece where, “If I ask for payment upfront, Michelle, isn’t that a little aggressive? That seems a little bit like pushy and that, I may be desperate.”
In my mind, obviously, it’s not but I want to hear from you, Paul. How can we help accountants reading going into the summer of 2021, where the extended tax season was a nightmare for everybody? They are overwhelmed, probably want to lay on the couch, kick their feet up with Netflix but now we are going into the back half of the year. How do we make these changes in the firms to get paid upfront or before the work is due or get half upfront and half before you deliver the final piece as you did with your thing in Canada? What would you say is the first thing that needs to happen, especially around the mindset?
I love teaching this because mindset applies across all industries and any form of selling. I trained a call center in the Philippines of all things because it doesn’t matter what industry you are in. First and foremost, you have to believe that you can do it. I didn’t say you have to believe that you can do it. That comes later. You have to least accept the possibility that you can do it. That’s first and foremost. When you go to change your beliefs, the first thing you go after is possibility and skillset, not identity. If you say, “I am a quick closer or I am someone who closes my clients right away,” the challenges on the unconscious level, your unconscious mind may say, “No, you can’t” because you have all these examples of not having done it. We want to open to the possibility that we could do it.
The second thing is to get into your head that you are deserving. You deserve to get this payment upfront. I wouldn’t even look at it as a payment upfront. I would look at it as an opportunity to invest in their success. You are extending an opportunity, the optimum opportunity for them to immediately invest in their success. Look at it, not as an attempt to close a deal but as an opportunity extension. You are extending this opportunity for them immediately to make the decision that serves them best.
If I teach a call center, I don’t want to get off-topic because this is about accountants but people have trouble with cold calling. I say, “You are not cold calling. You are extending an opportunity.” When you collect that payment upfront, you are extending an opportunity for that client to commit. That’s a powerful, important thing. You are being of service, which leads to my third that is you have to believe you deserve it. Here’s a simple little thing I like to teach my clients is to write down the word “deserve” and cross out the words “de” then what do you get?
Serve.Get into your head that you deserve upfront payments. Click To Tweet
What you deserve is greater or equal to the amount to which you serve. This is being of service that will create the belief that you deserve to do it. There’s a possibility. You have to open to the possibility that it can be done. You have to open up to the mindset that you are deserving of doing it because you are extending a gift. You are not trying to get something. You are extending an opportunity for that person to be more successful because when they have skin in the game, they are going, can follow through. I look up to you massively because you have a massive commitment to your success, Michelle. You are deeply invested in serving your community of accountants and you have skin in the game. Not because you are a businesswoman but because you want to see the people you serve succeed.
I want to see you all succeed, have more money in the bank so that you can kick your feet up and watch Netflix and not have that pressure and overwhelm of the cashflow challenges. The rollercoaster cashflow, the upfront payment versus the pay as you go or “pay me 9, 12 months later,” because you have to now get a collection company to help you is also why having someone pay on the first meeting with them or if you are doing compliance work, those are easy. If you are doing the higher value work, the consulting work, CFO services, tax planning and tax resolution, the commitment is with the actual money. Paul, I don’t know if you can speak on that but I have been told a lot, “Michelle, I’m going to call you back or let’s do a follow-up in two weeks.” I already know that 90% of the time, those are never going to happen. I know that. It’s an easy way for a client to say no because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Maybe, they are not clear on what you are proposing or what they want to do, therefore, they don’t want to appear to look stupid. It could be, not that they are not interested. It’s they are not clear and they don’t want to look stupid. Don’t assume that your prospective client is going to tell you the real objection, because number one, they may not know. Number two, even if they do know, they may be fearful that they are going to sound stupid or flaky. You have to have a technique to ferret out what the real objection is and it’s seldom about money. It is almost always a smokescreen. If it is about money, then great. You have saved yourself time.
Chris Voss said, “It’s not a sin to lose a deal. It’s a sin to put in a tremendous amount of time, effort and work going into a bad deal and losing a bad deal.” Along those lines, I think when people say, “Can I think it over or get back to me a proposal?” I always like to say something along the lines of, “I understand. Can I ask you a question? Have you ever taken a long time to think something over and it still turned out to be a bad decision? Maybe it’s not about time but about the clarity, you need to recognize this is the best path forward.” Think about it like, “Is there anything we can address right now?” When you speak that way, you are taking what they think could be a good idea, which is delaying. You are subconsciously switching the frame to be, “If I delay, I’m going to lose.” Some people may say, “That’s manipulative, Paul.” I would say it’s being clever and crafty in the service of the decision that is optimum for your client as well as for you.
I think if we stand with the premise and we have spoken about this a lot of times on past episodes that the sales process is basically taking a prospect down a path to ultimately make a decision that they feel good about. It’s all about good feelings, about decisions that they get to make. We are guiding them down that path. If we guide them down the path and encourage, “Pay me later” or “I will send you a proposal with an engagement letter and there’s a link to pay whenever you feel like it.” We are not helping them make a good decision. We are providing more opportunities for a delay so we are hindering the service that we all provide.
That’s all true. Michelle, here’s the rub on another level. You are positioning yourself as another person who’s desperate for business. It’s bad positioning. It’s like if someone cancels a date on you and you say, “I understand” and then they canceled another one and another one. Your value in their eyes is dropping tremendously. It’s not speaking to the world and saying, “I am of worth. I’m of value. I don’t need to put up with this thing.” Here’s a thing also. The more you set up with your action of behavior, you do get the money upfront, it sets up a beautiful feedforward. The more you will come into it, radiating that belief that you deserve it.
The more you come into the speech transaction, raving that belief that you deserve it, the more likely it is that they will pay you upfront. It creates this beautiful, what we call hypnosis, a feed-forward loop. Your belief feeds your action. Your action feeds your belief. Your belief feeds your action and it creates not a vicious cycle but a virtuous cycle. A cycle that creates a victorious cycle. This is what I know in my deep understanding of how the subconscious or unconscious. It’s the same thing. As a hypnotist, I know the unconscious mind is impressed by action. When you take that action, you believe you deserve it. When you believe you deserve it, the person on the other end of the negotiation is far more likely to go along with you.
Small steps of action to make these shifts. I have a question because I think for everyone reading and myself, I always love to hear your actionable examples. These are some things that you can say when you are meeting with clients, as you are working on making this transition. Paul already gave us one, which is, “Have you ever taken a long time to make a decision before,” and being curious when you ask it. What other great questions could you ask? You are at the end of a meeting with a new prospect. They are ready to move forward. For everyone reading, I want you to practice running their card, having them fill out an ACH direct withdraw form right then and there. Have them sign the engagement letter either on paper, through DocuSign or any of your tax software proposal programs but only after you have transacted the payment?
I know there are workarounds because all of my students have figured it out. I don’t even know all the software out there but if you are using any of them, they all have a workaround where you can get the payment filled in for them. It would send them an email with the link but all the payment stuff is filled in and all they have to do is electronically sign their engagement letter. In the moment with the client, Paul, what are some other questions that an accountant could ask to speed up the decision process right then if they are not going to give payment? Step one is to start asking for payment but step two is also to ask great questions to figure out, “Are there any other hidden objections?” If we delay and we allow that to happen, not only are we hurting our clients but there are other objections underneath the surface. The only way to bring them up above the surface is to address them when you are with the client and remove the back and forth.
Here’s what I don’t suggest. I don’t suggest you say, “Are there any other reasons why you can’t move forward?” That’s horrible because it’s going to cause them to go inside and come up with reasons why they don’t want to do it. I would use what we call in NLP the conditional. If I said, “I understand and,” not but, Michelle. That’s a magical word and because it allows you to acknowledge what they are saying. You don’t but your client. When you but your client, they feel unheard. It breaks your point and they are gone. “I understand your concern and if you were to.” It’s like saying, “Imagine you did or imagine you could. If you were to go inside for a moment and allow yourself to feel free to speak on what else might be there that would allow you to move forward, what would that be?”
That’s a big mouthful. Let me unpack it. “I understand and if you were to,” that’s equivalent to me as a hypnotist saying, “Go deep into your unconscious and find out what’s going on. If you were to stop, take him in it and discover for yourself, what else needs to be cleared up for you to decide you want to move forward?” This is very vague language. I understand. It’s very unusual to the accountants reading. It’s in my book. I’m not trying to plug the book but it will show you step by step how to do this. What would those be? What essentially we are doing is we are using a powerful phrase, “If you were to.” If I said, “Mr. Client, I understand but I want you to tell me right now, what else is going on in your mind?”
They are going to hang up. When you use those magic words, “If you were to,” that’s equivalent to me as a hypnotist. If you are uncomfortable with that label, we are all hypnotists because we are always convincing ourselves if we can do something. That’s a hypnotic thing. “If you were to,” is equivalent to saying, “Stop a minute. Take a breath and relax, dive down and feel comfortable searching your mind for what else has to be cleared up.” Without asking it directly, you imply that there are interested in eager and capable of doing that. I know this is the thing that will have to be read to multiple times. I do encourage people to read this episode multiple times. I know Michelle thinks I get too technical and I understand we try to keep it simple.Your action feeds your belief, and your belief feeds your action. Click To Tweet
I like real-life examples for everyone reading to make the shift.
I have had this example. This guy ran a gigantic mortgage company. Number two in the whole country that was not otherwise run by a bank. I’ve got an introduction to him through someone we both knew. I had 4 or 5 conversations with him and he was sold and excited. He was the CEO of the company. He said, “This sounds great. Let me present it at the next board meeting. I will get back to you.” I should have known, “If he’s the CEO of the whole company, he is the decision-maker.” I was so intimidated by the amount of money that he tended to believe. I said, “That’s cool,” that I didn’t handle that objection. He then never took my calls and down the rabbit hole, it went.
What would you say if you were to do it differently now with the CEO? A lot of the accountants reading, we have business owners. They probably need some high-level services done. You want to charge $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, maybe even more. You are intimidated by that. You have seen these people’s financials, their QuickBooks files and their tax returns. They say, “I want to take it to my husband, wife or I want to take it to my business partner.” What would be the best question to bring up since you are meeting with the CEO? This is the final decision maker to decide to work with you. Another little tip is to always have all decision-makers present. What would you say using, “If you were to and” framework?
I would use a phrase that I call the “of course” object and destroy. I would say, “Of course, it’s important that the right decision is made and that you ensuring guaranteed that they are also on board with us.” Onboard with us implies that he’s already wanting to make the decision. “I’m curious what would have to happen for you to be able to move forward now with the clear understanding that ultimately you are the decision-maker? That, “What would have to happen,” is again, like saying if you were to what would have to happen for you to decide you can move forward now, which is a suggestion. I didn’t say you can move forward and sign the agreement. I said, “You can move forward now.” I left it deliberately vague. There are a lot of hypnotic tools are being combined in this. I know it sounds complex. Again, I’m sorry if I seem like plugging it. It’s laid out in black and white step by step in the book. You are going to have to read it multiple times. It’s a quick read but it’s not an easy read.
This is a prime example. If you caught that, write it out because of these things you need to have written out. You need to have in front of you to be prepared on how to handle the conversations until this becomes more intuitive. Thank you so much, Paul, for that. Is there anything else that you would like to add that maybe we haven’t spoken about on the reasons why upfront payments versus pay as you go are in the best interest of your clients? Which is the best route for an accountant, accounting firms, CPAs, solo accountingpreneurs that I call them here, to make the shift because money is the actual commitment?
The guy told you he was sold. The CEO said, “I’m sold. I’ve got to go to the board meeting.” I’m going to guess that you never heard from him again. When someone says, “I’m interested. I’m sold. I’m ready to go,” it doesn’t mean anything to me. I hear nothing. I have blurred those words out. The only thing that means you are sold and want me to help you is when you pay, fill the ACH form out, you pay with a credit card, debit card, a check or maybe even cryptocurrency these days.
Michelle, I have to tell you something. I have had many great mentors in my career. I don’t know, whether it was Gary Halbert or Dan Kennedy, who said, “Stop the compliments, hand over the check.”
It’s true. The compliments are lovely but they don’t help pay your team or pay you first.
I was at an event. Someone said, “I can’t believe that there’s Paul Ross. He’s one of my idols.” I go by another name when I teach something else. It doesn’t matter. He said, “Should I call you Paul or should I call you this?” I said, “Call me whatever you want, just sign the check.” Forget about how nice it feels to hear what you think is their agreement. All that matters is that they give you the payment. Otherwise, they are wasting your time. If you are reading this, you are here to create financial independence perhaps or to put food on the table for your family. You are here to take the worry and the stress out of the cashflow rollercoaster that occurs. She’s absolutely right about that. It also happens in a few other businesses but I can think of no other business except being a contractor is very seasonal. What I’m trying to say is you deserve and need to get these results that Michelle is teaching you to get. As brilliant as you are, your heart-driven and you have a heart of service. When Michelle tells you to do something, do it.
We will wrap up here what Paul was saying. You deserve it and people will pay you but let people pay with their checkbooks, their ACH forms and their credit cards because that is the proof that you deserve it, that you are worthy of it. That you can make those shifts in your firm to get paid upfront instead of the pay as you go or pay me nine months later. It is truly possible to see people with $40,000, $60,000, $80,000 in AR have it go to zero and change their whole business. I have seen it with my own students. You can find that all at TheAbundantAccountant.com if you go to the Success Stories page. Paul, you did mention your book a couple of times. Can you share the name of it and where they can buy it?
It’s called Subtle Words That Sell: How to Get Your Prospects To Convince Themselves To Buy and Add Top Dollars to Your Bottom Line!. It is available on Amazon. At the very back of the book, I believe there are some ways you can reach out to me and give me feedback about the book. I always want to hear what my readers have to say. I answer every email myself because that’s how I roll and my ego also likes the attention.Stop a minute, take a breath, relax, and feel comfortable. Click To Tweet
Thank you so much for being here with us on the show. It was an honor to have you.
Likewise, Michelle. It’s always an honor to speak to such a genius entrepreneur.
What an amazing show with Paul. There is so much goodness. You might need to re-read and take some notes but I do want to share a personal story because just like you, I deal with this on a daily basis. There are so many people that I have talked to, either selling for other people or even my own program, our 8-Week Sales Mastery Training that say, “Michelle, I’m sold. I need to talk to my husband, my wife or my significant other.” I have heard the word sold so many times and this happened with a woman. I was selling for someone else their program. We will call her Bobbie Jo. Bobbie Jo said, “Michelle, I am sold. This is exactly what I need. It is the right time. I’m committed.”
Mind you, I have spoken to Bobbie Jo in 2017. Bobbie Joe hasn’t taken action. Did I think she was going to take action now when she said she was sold? To me, it sounds like a red flag and I was right. She said she would make her decision in 24 hours. Maybe I didn’t serve her right and I allowed her to linger in her decision-making process. That’s okay. I knew what I was dealing with. She said she’s going to go in a different direction. In the future, she will reach back out if anything changes or I will come to the well a third time. I promised to lead with my checkbook. That is proof in the pudding that people will commit with their checkbooks, with their credit cards and with their forms of payments.
There’s no other way of a commitment. When someone says, “I’m sold,” it doesn’t mean anything. It’s not a commitment. I always said that when I was raising money with my last company and investors would tell me they would invest $50,000, $100,000. I never believed it unless the check cleared. After three days, the money sat in the bank account, then I would believe it. People would say, “Michelle, you are so skeptical.” You don’t believe that things are going to happen. I do. I also have seen the opposite. I have seen people say things because they are too scared to tell you the truth and that’s okay, too. When you have had experience doing thousands of calls, pitching thousands of investors, what I can promise you is like what Bobbie Jo said in her email to me, “I promise to lead with my checkbook next time.” That’s commitment. That’s an enrollment, not when someone says, “I’m sold.” I wanted to end with that.
Also, I want to reiterate, if you are having a challenge with getting the sales process figured out on your own, I have a done for you solution and you can learn more about that over at TheAbundantAccountant.com/app. It will 10X your sales. It is the number one accounting sales app because I say so and I know this will help you create the know, like and trust factor a lot quicker. There’s a welcome video that you can send to your clients. You basically will pick what track you are on so you can focus on monthly bookkeeping or accounting. There’s a track for tax planning, profit coaching and tax resolution but this is what will help you establish real relationships fast using the app to convert higher-paying clients.
I partnered with a company called Rapid Fuel Technology. You will see more about that on the website but this will help increase your value. Having a bulletproof client experience that turns prospects into customers and has that cashflow flowing in your firm. Once again, to learn more head on over to TheAbundantAccountant.com/app and you can see what I have been working on the last few months. Thank you all so much for joining me here on another episode. It was an honor to be here and I will see you in the next episode.
- Paul Ross – LinkedIn
- Subtle Words That Sell
- 8-Week Sales Mastery Training
- Success Stories
- Amazon – Subtle Words That Sell
About Paul Ross
Paul Ross is an author, speaker, trainer, Master Hypnotist, and Master of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. For the past 30 years he’s taught tens of thousands of people the power of language to persuade, influence, sell, heal and turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.
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