Talking Points For Speaking to Sales

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in Credit Today, the leading publication for the credit professional, a CMA Partner. Click here for Special CMA Member $10 Trial!


Communicating With Sales Regularly – Formally or Informally – is Always Important

Do you speak to your sales reps about what you’re doing in credit?

If you don’t, you should.

One of the most important roles of a credit exec is to constantly communicate credit’s role in your organization and how it relates to sales.

In a recent Credit Today listserv discussion, a member asked for suggestions on what she might include in an upcoming presentation to her company’s sales team. A number of great responses were received.

Lisa Childress, Corporate Credit Manager at Bison Building Materials, recommended covering the following topics with sales:

  1. How company profits are diminished the longer an invoice remains unpaid.
  2. What the cost of money (borrowing) is for your company. Also, are bank covenants you must adhere to?
  3. What their commission structures are. For example, are they on a “paid-when-paid” commission structure or do their commissions diminish as the account ages?
  4. How they and credit can maintain customer relations.
  5. Why you in credit absolutely recognize the importance of continued sales.

Cheryl, Fischer, CCP, credit manager at Barber Glass Industries, advised that the way you make your presentation with sales can make a big difference. “You have to communicate to them on their level, she wrote. “And that is definitely not a slight!” she clarified.

Visuals are Key

She’s learned over the years that sales reps in general are visual people and suggested very brief overhead computer visuals. “Graphs are always very helpful. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point with pictures and I don’t think you will find their eyes glazing over.”

And Jeff Borgens, CBA, Corporate Credit & QMS Manager at Aiphone Corporation, offered up some great suggestions as well.

First, he suggested, emphasize the principals of business partnership and mutual expectations. “It’s a partnership and we look for quality partners (customers) we can count on.”

Sales should also understand that credit will do what it says it will do and that “ongoing payments equal ongoing shipments.”

Second, make sure you “talk their language” when communicating with sales people. This means emphasizing customer needs and how you strive to meet those within the policies you’ve established. Talk to them about how you will help make the sale, rather than stop a sale if at all possible. And cover some of the tools you have to make that happen, such as guarantees, credit cards, letters of credit, or other security agreements. Make sure they know you’re not “sales prevention,” but are there to facilitate the sale, he wrote.

Finally, he suggested reminding sales that we need to be aware of the role our customers play with our product.

If you sell to someone else who is depending on delivery of “your” product, and that customer ends up on credit hold and hence can’t get the goods down thru the channel, it potentially puts your firm a bad light. “We need to be conscientious of those that buy thru the channel by making sure our business partners are reliable,” he wrote.
This article originally appeared in Credit Today, the leading publication for the credit professional.

Click here for Special CMA Member $10 Trial!


Are You Viewed As a Leader?

Company executives are fully aware of the impact sales has on their company’s future, but many of them might not be so aware of how close accounts receivable (A/R) relates to the organization’s sustainability and potential for growth. “It’s really important to show them how credit can affect them,” said Susan Archibeque in a recent CMA-sponsored webinar entitled “Credit Leadership.”

Archibeque noted that while sales may have the most obvious tie to a company’s position, it’s important for the business’ decision makers to understand how important credit is to help the company make more sound strategic
decisions and also to increase the profile and clout of the credit department within the organization. Archibeque noted that the relationship between credit and sales should be an equal and mutually-beneficial one. “The only way that we can change perception of credit is to have a positive experience with sales,” she said. “It’s important that sales and credit are on the same committee.” Archibeque even noted that, in some instances, sales should be tied to credit and suffer the consequences when one of their customers fails to pay.

Before any of these options are put into place, however, Archibeque noted that a credit department needs to take stock both of how they’re performing and how they relate to the rest of their company. “We need to look at your company internally,” she said. “Look at the impact A/R is having. You need to know where improvements need to be made… to change the philosophy of credit in [your] organization.” Archibeque also added that it’s important for credit staff to be involved in the company’s future as much as its present situation. “You need to be on the strategic planning committee so you can be in on your company’s growth,” she said. “You need to know where your company’s going in terms of expansion.”