Corporate credit managers should take the initiative to head off conflicts between the sales and credit departments before they happen.
Conflicts between ad sales representatives and credit and collections managers stand in the way of improving business performance. But they are not inevitable, and it’s up to the credit and collections department to make the first move to insure they don’t happen.
I pass along this sound advice from Thomas Even, a former CEO of a national credit commercial collection agency specializing in ad-supported media and director of credit and collections for Radio One.
Even says that corporate credit managers have to get out and visit local ad sales departments.
According to Even, what they’ll hear is a lot of complaints from account executives that advertisers don’t want the hassle of the credit application process and that they threaten to take their business elsewhere if burdened with paperwork.
Rather than being drawn into the fray, credit managers should try to convince the sales reps to spend a little more time building the advertiser’s trust. That includes talking about why their station has credit requirements and discussing the dozens of people and the many station departments such as production, traffic and finance that must get involved to make the ad campaign successful.
The more the buyer trusts the account executive, the more likely he or she is to concede that credit policies are a normal part of doing business. In Even’s view, “The customer is basically buying the salesperson.”
Even also uses these meetings to encourage sales reps to get their credit departments more involved in the sale. “The more information that you can bring to your credit reps, the better the review process can be,” he believes. And, nothing speeds a buy along like getting a check from the advertiser. “If we can sell the client on the buy, we should also be able to sell them on the importance of putting some money down when it’s going to make a difference with their application,” Even says.
Trading places is a great way to build a better working relationship between sales and credit departments. Credit managers should accompany account executives on some sales calls. In addition to becoming more aware of the role that credit requirements have on making the sale, credit managers will gain greater appreciation for the importance of sales commission. “This is how they put their kids through school,” Even says. “This is how they make that mortgage payment.”
Wearing one another’s shoes can also wear down some well-heeled resistance to the credit process. Account executives who listen to some collections calls and even make a few themselves come away with a much greater appreciation for the credit department.
Even advises media companies to incorporate a presentation on credit polices into the orientations for new salespeople before they make their first calls. Otherwise, credit polices risk being pushed into the background. “Oftentimes, they have no idea what your policies and procedures are,” he says.
I think Thomas would agree: There’s no better way to resolve conflicts than preventing them in the first place.
Mary Collins in the president of the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association, a professional society for financial, MIS and HR executives in the electronic media. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 847-716-7000.