You’re a Warmonger! – Michael Dennis, CBF

Warmonger… really?

I have been called a lot of things. An email I received recently from a division sales manager was the first time I was called a warmonger.   I had to look up the definition.  A warmonger is someone who tries to stir up wars.

I called and asked what he meant when he wrote this.  The divisioin manager told me there was a widespread feeling that I enjoyed conflicts with customers, and that maybe I got a rush when I had to handle disputes between sales and credit, or between credit and an applicant, or between credit and an existing customer.

I told him that he was totally wrong.  I reminded him that no one is thrilled to hear from me or my team.  No one likes to be told that their orders are on hold.  No customer likes to be in a position in which they must make a specific commitment to clear a past due balance.  Also, no one likes to be proven wrong when we document that deductions were taken in error and must be repaid.  No company wants to be told they do not qualify for (a) open account terms or (b) a higher credit limit.

In response to the warmonger comment, I said:  I am not looking for a fight with anyone.  I do not look forward to disagreements. However, I cannot back down just because a customer is disappointed, angry, irate, profane, belligerent, dismissive, demeaning, sarcastic, caustic or

Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM
Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

otherwise unpleasant.  These difficult interactions help limit bad debt losses and reduce serious payment delinquencies.

That’s my opinion.  What is your opinion?

Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is

The opinions presented are those of the author.  The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors.  Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.


9 Replies to “You’re a Warmonger! – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. What problems were at the center of the disputes, and what changes would avoid them? One company I worked for charged off all deductions to the profit on accounts . . and a large portion of the Sales Managers’ paycheck was based on profitability. Why force Credit into meaningless fights over small deductions on high-margin accounts? This practice ‘unified the interests’ of Sales and Credit.

  2. Well said Michael! Conflict and disagreement are a significant aspect of Credit Management, the key is how we deal with it. I am more prone to listen to a customer or Sales Rep if they can objectively and specifically articulate their rationale and ideas for a certain suggested plan. I correlate the relationship between Sales and Credit as team mates on a football team. Sales is the Offense, who’s job is to generate revenue/score points. Credit is the Defense who’s job is to manage risk, maximize cash flow, and reduce bad debt losses. The key work is TEAM mates. The more Sales and Credit realize and embrace the TEAM concept, the fewer the wars and battles that will need conflict resolution.

  3. Hi Michael – I find it interesting that the Div Sales Manager e-mailed you, and you called him. It helps further my belief that most Sales people don’t know how to handle conflict or conflict resolution. We Credit & Collection professionals learn by doing it every day, and we talk to people to resolve the issues we may have. The air gets cleared, and things get done by being professionals. We can reach a resolution without making customers angry or intimidating them. We all understand where the income comes from, and angry customers don’t stay where they are not wanted. However, too many sales people I have worked with (over 30 years) handle conflict by backing down (to a customer), or striking out (at the credit manager). And rarely do they sit down with us to talk things out. We either get an angry e-mail, or our supervisor gets the e-mail, because they haven’t learned what professional confrontation is all about. I applaud your proper phone response, not an ‘in kind’ reply.

  4. Two essays in a row about you not playing well with others. It’s off to charm school for you my friend 🙂

    More seriously, having worked with you for years, I know how hard you focus on finding a way around a problem. I remember something you used to say along these lines:

    “An IDIOT can find a reason to say no. Please find me a way to say YES.”

  5. My first thought was the division manager is behaving immaturely calling you names and acting cowardly.

    My second thought was forwarding the email to Senior Management and asking for an appt to discuss if they (Sr Mgmt) are dissatisfied with either your results, your style or your expectations. (your expectations may be higher than theirs) Do you have their support – if not ask for suggestions.

    Since sales appears “dissatisfied” with your attempts to train the customers to pay better, ASK for an advanced list of the sensitive customers they would like to be notified of if the account needs to be placed on hold for non-payment or if an order goes into review, so that THEY can contact the customer for an acceptable solution..

    I find that letting the sales dept repeatedly intercede to find acceptable solutions or allowing them to get burned with a few bad debts, gradually lessens their interference and complaints. Sometimes you have to let them crash & burn the HARD way, while You take care of the rest of the portfolio so it’s not too painful for the company overall.

  6. Dorothy. You were close. The statement was:

    Any idiot can find an an excuse to say no, let’s look for a way to say yes.


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