Credit Matters Blog

Working With Salespeople To Avoid Purchase Fraud

Kim Radok 03 September 2012


It is true that most salespeople are adequately trained in most areas of selling. For instance, salespeople often attend motivational courses on keeping their spirits up in face of the constant NO. Salespeople are also generally well trained in their products and services.

Salespeople are also often lorded as the champions of the business, and it would appear, who can do no wrong. Add all these factors together and you might find that salespeople lose respect for sound business disciplines and gain an inflated idea of their worth in the business setting.

These situations, along with the ever incessant demands from managers for more sales, make the average salespeople easy prey for purchase fraudsters. In some business circles, purchase fraudsters are known and even rewarded, for being "smart business professionals". 

The one reality which most business owners or managers fail to acknowledge is how purchase fraudsters influence management's salespeople. It is not that difficult to manipulate people when you know they have inflated egos of their worth or they fear the consequences of a lack of success (sales). This then explains why the one area of business which salespeople are not adequately trained; is how to manage the sales - purchase fraud interaction.

There are many ways management can support their salespeople to deal with purchase fraudsters. I cannot stress the importance of helping your salespeople to understand and identify the fraudster customer before your goods and services have left your care. Before I proceed, the would-be fraudster customer needs to be identified early in the sales conversation, for two reasons.

The first reason is obvious; so the fraudster customer do not get their hands on your goods before payment.

The second reason is, once identified, it may still be possible to sell to these would be fraudsters. Obviously you will need salespeople who are switched on, can easily adapt their sales pitch and sell to a different plan. 

The main tools which employers can provide to their salespeople are (i) a properly prepared order form or pad and (ii) the knowledge on how and why the form is to be completed in full. 

Sometime ago, I conducted a short information session with our salespeople about how to complete our company's order form. I explained, the order form was designed to provide all necessary information if the customer did not pay. Therefore if they completed the form properly, the credit department would not have to contact them for additional information to assist in the recovery of any debt.

On leaving the session, many of the salespeople thanked me for the session. Furthermore, many of the senior salespeople told me, this was the first time in their career anybody had explained these matters with them.

Salespeople also need to be rewarded in a positive, not negative fashion, if they correctly identify the customer as a potential fraudster before the goods or services have left your care. Too often management fails to see the dollars saved and so chastise the salesperson for not completing the deal.

A good example of this situation was a friend of mine who was a bank manager at the time in a country region. He had come to learn all about his customers and potential customers in the region.

On a visit, the regional manager abused my friend for not completing his sales budgets. His reply was that he could not sell to customers he knew, would not pay their debts. My friend also pulled all the declined lending applications out of a draw and asked the regional manager would he then authorise the applications. The  regional manager refused by saying it was my friend's job.

Finally, it is important that sales budgets are realistic for your industry. Sales budgets must reflect current economic conditions and be achievable. Along with sales budgets, time must be made to build a customer service ethos and a culture of doing business right the first time.

Combining all these factors will soon assist the salespeople to sell to the right customers - who will pay verses to those to the fraudulent purchaser who only creates laibilities.

May you be paid today rather than tomorrow