Promoting strong, productive relationships between departments is a key function of upper level executives.
Perhaps nowhere is the relationship more difficult to manage than between a sales department and the credit/collection folks. Here’s a real-life success tale of how companies can help grow in this area, as originally told by Adolfo Lupu, National Association of Credit Management for the Upstate New York & Gateway Region, Buffalo, NY.
There was always going to be some tension with Sales.
Even though we ultimately had the same goal – making money for the company – it was easy to lose sight of that in the daily grind.
Our departments were both busier than ever handling customers, so that made it hard to carve out time for regular talks.
But without that one-on-one time, our relationship was really suffering.
Sales would get upset about decisions we made, or we’d take issue with something they did without asking us.
Finally, enough was enough. We knew we had to start doing something to improve this relationship.
We started out small, with phone calls and emails at least once a week.
During our conversations, we discussed how various customers were faring, as well as any past-due accounts that were nearing the brink of credit hold.
The calls and emails were meant mainly to check in, but we also ended up coming to agreements on major decisions together.
It didn’t take a lot of time, either. Now we were working smarter with Sales, not harder.
Quality bonding time
As helpful as the regular chats were, we knew there was even more room for improvement.
We decided to start doing more “work-togethers.”
Work-togethers involved us going out to lunch or to meet customers (both key accounts and slow-payers).
Even though the main point seemed to be bettering the relationship with the customer, what we were really doing was building a relationship with the salesperson.
Getting together in an informal setting outside of work gave us the chance to ask questions about their family or hobbies.
Yes, the customer account and normal day-to-day stuff also came up in conversation, but mainly we just relaxed and got to know each other.
After a few of these work-togethers, we noticed a difference.
Salespeople were going out of their way to stop by
Emails, calls and visits helped us see eye-to-eye.
and chat with us during the day.
It was clear that now they were our allies at work instead of our rivals.
Bridged the gap
Salespeople have a highly demanding job, just as we do.
However, this experience has taught us a valuable lesson.
With the right kind of attention
and an urgency to work as a team,
a dynamic relationship may only be a couple of lunches or customer