Changing a business’s culture can be one of the hardest tasks a company can face. However, doing so is possible and necessary if the credit and sales departments are not on the same page, said Susan Archibeque, CCE, director of credit for Salt Lake City-based Nicholas & Co., Inc.
Archibeque, who is speaking during the educational session Conquering the Challenge of Overridden Credit Decisions at NACM’s upcoming 120th annual Credit Congress in Las Vegas, implemented a number of steps at her company that over time helped transition relationships among sales, credit and upper management into ones of understanding and support.
“Credit people are extremely analytical,” she said. Use that skill to identify what’s important to your company and then connect that to what you do—find your niche, Archibeque said. “That’s what’s going to get their attention."
Archibeque suggested crafting a simple message and to “speak in terms that sales and upper management understand and comprehend.” For her company, cash flow was a key factor so she began by illustrating DSO’s impact on it. Measure and provide details, she added.
Her department also developed standard guidelines for credit approval. Anything that falls outside those guidelines goes to a committee for discussion and consensus, she noted. The committee includes members from finance, legal counsel, credit and sales.
Archibeque has also worked to create common goals to foster collaboration. Both the sales and credit departments have bonus and recognition structures that include sales and collections. In addition, there’s a commission charge back if an account doesn’t pay within a certain amount of time. “With some salespeople, it had to hit their pocketbook to keep them engaged and follow through to ensure payment is received timely,” she said.
The changes have been very effective, “but you have to continue to track and measure to reinforce behavior,” she said. Archibeque will address these topics and as well as other key strategies to create credit and sales teams with common goals and objectives.
- Diana Mota, associate editor