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Nov 01 2018
Creating a Dynamic Relationship with Your Sales Team
Amy Shelton, CBA, Builders FirstSource

The sales team has many affectionate ways of describing the credit department, but my all-time favorite is the "sales prevention department." At times it can feel like the only thing that a sales person remembers is that one "No" that is said out of 100's of "Yes's." All credit managers know that working with the sales department can be difficult at times - when you dash their dreams of a big paycheck by getting in the way with facts, it is hard for the sales team not to take it personally.

That being said, there are some strategies that I use to get the sales team to at least understand why I say "NO" so they don't take it so personally that I'd like to share with you.

Give them a chance to get any additional paperwork of information that you might need to open an account. When they do the extra leg work to obtain the financing information, personal guarantee or direct pay agreements signed it gets them more personally invested. Once a sales person is invested in a customer they will become a great asset in the long run in collecting payments. They will often take it personally when they go the extra mile and the customer doesn't pay on time. And if they aren't able to get these simple items from a customer to make the sale, they will be more understanding as to why you said no.

Disclose information that is public record. There may be information that the applicant is trying to hide from your company in order to obtain an account, and most sales people don't want to waste their time on a lead that won't go anywhere. Maybe there is a recent bankruptcy filing or judgement, or the applicant does not have a contractors or other needed license. Sales people do not like surprises that make it impossible to sell. When you give them the information it makes them feel like you are bringing them in on the decision.

If you have to say no because of a company policy, make it easy for them to understand. When you explain the situation and why the company has this policy, a good sales person will usually be more than happy to let go of the sale, knowing that in the long run it will just bring them more work. They also know if they do try to go around the policy and are successful at getting the account opened, they will likely spend all of their time chasing the account and hearing you say "I told you so!"

Sometimes you can open a cash account for those customers who do not meet your credit criteria with special pricing and still assign it to the sales person. You are not saying no, you are offering other options. I like to try every option before I say no, even if it is giving them a "cash account." Sales appreciates my effort and when I do have to say no they trust that I did everything to help them make this sale.

Sales and Credit go hand in hand - neither of us would have a job without the other. If we can work as a team it makes life in credit so much easier. I personally always use these approaches with my sales staff and it has helped me gain their trust and appreciation.