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Never (ever) give away your “locus of control”


Professional service firms are amongst the most competitive businesses in the world.

As you pitch your services to prospective new clients it can be easy to become discouraged. For example, have you ever had prospective clients that:

  • apart from price, don’t see your firm as being different from any other firm in your sector
  • barely understand their problem, never mind your nuanced and elegant solutions
  • don’t value your specialist, experienced advice, over that of a “mate” they know
  • keep asking questions, but never commit to a formal engagement

Frankly, it can be comforting to blame your prospects for not getting it. If so, it’s their fault we don’t win new business. Because we believe our prospects actions is external to our control, the result is therefore out of our control. Or is it?
It’s the same with your Accounts Receivable staff. They could entertain an audience for hours about slow payers that:

  • never return calls or messages
  • always say they didn’t get the invoice
  • know you can’t repossess your advice, so stretch payment to 60+ days

If you believe these excuses, and the challenge is truly out of your control, then you disconnect yourself from ever being able to influence the outcome.

Weirdly, that might feel comfortable. You may well adopt that nihilistic retort of “What are you gonna do?” Sadly, that also means you have given away the “locus of control”.

Here is something more hopeful. Try this simple tip to regain control and change the outcome.

Insert the phrase “What can I do to ….” before each excuse, in any of the above bullet points.
E.g. What can I do to: help explain why our firm is not like all the others?
E.g. What can I do to: ensure slow payers always return my calls?

Now rest assured, answering these questions of yourself is neither easy nor comfortable. These questions will test you. You might need to brainstorm with other team members. BUT by simply asking them of yourself, it will re-assert your control over the situation.
If you know of any firm that is winning new business and/or getting paid on time, you know they have found a way. You must never give up your control, as you too can find a way to solve hard problems.

If you need any guidance to help reduce slow payers, please reach out to smartAR. We have seen this all before and know the shortcuts to your success.