Focusing on better communication between our cash flow departments, our last blog touched on leveraging sales professionals with collections personnel to achieve greater amounts of consistent cash flow. We now turn our attention to how sales cycle communication can help both departments avoid pitfalls, misunderstandings, and negligence. Finger pointing, nay saying, and the blame game can all go out the window with a little concerted effort and clear interest on the part of managers between sales and collections. Spelled-out policies will help those who bring in the money follow procedure to the letter.
Frequent communication helps both teams avoid unwanted surprises. Nothing is more frustrating than finally closing a big deal only to find the customer was put on hold last week due to payment delays. With software and communications technology, salespeople should never be surprised. Correct use of real-time reporting can text salespeople when a customer goes on or off credit hold. Management reports can be pulled listing customers in danger of losing their credit privileges, payments received, invoices approaching past due status, disputed accounts or transactions. Collections can make sure this information is distributed to the sales team weekly so everyone is up-to-date.
However, the communication between sales and collections is by no means one-way. Typically, the salesperson is closer to the customer than anyone else. This means they are the first to know of personnel changes, potential financial difficulties, or even unresolved sales and bankruptcies. They also know of pending disputes or returns that may postpone or change collections’ actions. Provided the sales team informs collections about this in advance, collection activity scheduling and resource allocation becomes far more efficient.
Between the two, jobs can be shared for simultaneous upholding of corporate policy. In regards to collections, there needs to be a clear definition of the credit policy. Nothing hinders company credibility more than a customer getting told one thing from sales only to be told something completely different in collections. This then ties into the argument of customer handling. As soon as a client is passed off to collections, their entire history with the salesperson should be handed over as well so discrepancies can be avoided. Should a credit hold go into effect on a certain customer, it’s then time to allocate one collections rep to team up with the salesperson in charge of the account. By organizing two aspects of the same organization to collect an unpaid invoice, you increase your chances of collecting the money in a timely manner.
Putting some of these tactics into action can help reduce the uncomfortable shrugging of shoulders and silent stares in the office. A clearly defined policy and procedure can greatly assist in avoid miscommunications and contradictions, especially when it means more money for everyone involved. Clearly establish the rules from the very beginning, and get your teams jumping at the chance to work closer together to bring in cash flow.