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Oct 01 2014
Make the Banging Stop!
Wayne Jarvis, CBA, Ferguson Enterprises
Do you ever wonder why sales people do what they do without any advance warning or at least a "Look Out!" before a new credit application or new job shows up on your desk? This just makes me want to bang my head on my desk for 15 minutes screaming "WHY! Why Them!?" Do you get an overwhelming urge in these situations to not only bang your head on the desk but also your salesman's or manager's? Now I don't condone or even suggest any physical violence in any way, but just sometimes doesn't just the thought of it make us feel better, if only for a moment?

As credit professionals, we face a never ending battle of making the best out of a bad situation. Whether it is a good customer on a poor job and a poor customer on a good job, it is our responsibility to make sure that our companies are protected and they get paid for the work they do. Having the support of sales and management on your side helps in winning that battle.

Over the years and through an endless number of personal meetings, I have been able to develop a strong relationship with my sales force to where they know that I am just as invested in them getting sales as they are and now I get a "Heads Up" and even a "Thank You" from time to time. This relationship and trust hasn't come without some personal headaches along the way, but the work and time I have invested in explaining, sometimes over and over again, what I am facing as a Credit Manager. Going on ride-a-longs with the salesman helps me to know what obstacles they face day to day and this time has been well spent.

One of the best ways I have found to get the process started is to take 20-30 minutes one-on-one with each salesman or manager and ask questions such as what they have coming up or what new customers they anticipate. Even if the discussion gets off topic and veers off into personal lives, they start seeing me as a person and not a job title. By doing this, I have found that it lets them know that I care about what they do in sales and in turn this lets them know what I do in credit. Through these meetings I have become more than the person on the other end of the phone asking what they were thinking, or me screaming, "How am I going to do this when you only gave me a small portion of the information needed to get a job account completed."

By developing this kind of relationship with your sales force, you will start to see immediate benefits. It helps them understand, "Let's not do this job or maybe we should take a second look at this customer." It also changes the perception from credit being "Anti-Sales" to credit being "Sales with a Conscience."