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:
- How company profits are diminished the longer an invoice remains unpaid.
- What the cost of money (borrowing) is for your company. Also, are bank covenants you must adhere to?
- 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?
- How they and credit can maintain customer relations.
- 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.