I was recently onsite with a prospective client to observe their order-to-cash process. The main focus was on the finance/credit side, but after having some impromptu conversations, it became apparent that their Sales reps were doing much (if not all) of the collections work. The main reason for this was threefold:
- Credit Holds – Customers would be cut off from placing new orders if they passed their credit thresholds or went past due on aged invoices. Therefore, it was in the Sales reps best interest to ensure their customers were paying up so that they could keep the pipelines open for new orders.
- Relationships – Sales owned the relationship with the customer and wanted to have control over all communications specific to each customer (good or bad).
- Commissions – Sales reps were paid commissions when invoices were paid, giving them clear incentive to ensure quick payment of invoices.
While the above scenario was great for Finance in that they had a motivated team of Sales individuals focused on minimizing aged Receivables, there were some major impacts from a Sales standpoint.
Collecting vs Selling
Sales reps were spending more than half of their time doing things like making collections calls, going onsite to pick up payments (mostly check, but cash in some cases), depositing checks at the bank, working with the Cash Application team to ensure payments were properly applied to their customers’ accounts, and collaborating with the Credit team to ensure customers could continue placing orders. While these are all critical activities, the time spent kept Sales reps from selling activities like talking to new prospective clients or expanding sales within existing accounts.
Sales reps were spending a lot of time participating in internal meetings and complying with internal processes such as completing/updating spreadsheets, submitting internal forms, providing/seeking updates to/from Finance, etc. Further, there was a constant tension between Sales and Finance which in some ways sounded like a game of cat and mouse where Sales would give just enough information, but not all. Or in some cases they might stretch the truth a bit to buy some time. Sound familiar? Outside of the time spent dealing with these processes and completing the necessary tasks, there is nothing more emotionally draining to a sales person than red tape, paperwork and internal process, which can act as a multiplier in terms of selling time lost.
It can be straining to relationships between Sales and their customers if Sales is tasked with delivering the bad or tough news on credit and collections. Further, customers will often hold payment pending the resolution of valid disputes, making collections issues more challenging and emotionally charged for the Customer. Depending on the situation this could be potentially damaging to the relationship.
At VersaPay we help transform the Order-to-Cash process to remove friction for Customers and give time back to staff. As it relates to Sales organizations, we help:
- Enable Sales to spend more time selling
- Improve customer relationships and loyalty
- Improve visibility on account and payment status
- Improve internal relationships between Sales and Finance
We do this by providing a simple portal for customers to come online and self-serve to view/pay invoices, receive notifications/alerts on their accounts and get help when needed. Firstly, this provides an experience Customers love and that is similar to what they would expect in their own personal lives. Who wants to pick up the phone and call their supplier to pay an invoice or resolve a dispute? Further, it eliminates much of the work associated with managing Accounts Receivables right off the bat, freeing up time to do other things. For the remaining exceptions, we provide visibility, as well as automation and collaboration tools, to help AR staff prioritize and take action where needed.
For more information, please contact us for an initial conversation or to schedule a demonstration.