News: Credit Reporting

Building a Better Bridge Between Sales and Credit

Monday, December 18, 2017  
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Maintaining a good relationship between the sales and credit departments is critical to the success of any business that extends credit, but doing so can also be challenging. The sales team is focused on bringing in more business, while the credit team is focused on mitigating risk.

Sales reps need the freedom to pursue prospects in the field with a reasonable assurance their efforts won’t be wasted because the credit department later identifies them as high credit risks. Fortunately, solutions are available to strike a better balance between enabling the sales team to pursue prospects and enforcing credit policies.

NACM North Central member Apogee Enterprises Inc. recently began using Experian’s BusinessIQ Mobile smartphone app to give the sales reps for its Tubelite business unit a new tool to prescreen prospects.

“For about the previous 12 months, we were looking for ways to help our field sales people to not have to get ahold of the credit department or wait for us to return information to them when looking at prospective customers,” said Jerry Drake, CCE, director of credit and collections for Apogee. “So, when we learned about BusinessIQ Mobile, we were immediately interested.”

In short, BusinessIQ Mobile allows users to quickly evaluate prospective clients’ risk profile anywhere. It helps companies overcome three common challenges:

  1. Field sales teams need more effective tools to pursue the right prospect. Sales people don’t want to spend long hours pursuing a prospect only to learn later that the credit department won’t extend credit.
  2. Friction between sales and credit departments. Credit managers are often seen as the “sales prevention specialists.” They are often put in a position of enforcing credit policies after the initial sales engagement.
  3. Competitive threats and a poor customer experience. Evaluating risk on new customers can be time-consuming. Any delays in your decision can result in your prospect looking to your competitors for alternatives.

“In the past, sales reps might send us five to 10 names of prospects to look at before traveling,” Drake said. “Those ‘quick checks’ took time away from our credit people’s normal tasks. But it is good for sales to know whether prospects will be bona fide clients or present an approval process. Nobody wants them to waste their time developing an account if it’s likely to be rejected.”

BusinessIQ Mobile provides a fully customizable solution that leverages Experian’s data and the company’s unique credit policies to give sales people information they can use to target their sales efforts on the right prospects. Accessible on iOS and Android devices, BusinessIQ Mobile allows the credit department to define the specific information available to sales reps.

For Apogee’s initial use, sales reps are given an indication whether a prospect is likely to be approved for credit or may present a problem. The final approval or denial is still in the hand of the credit department after a formal review, but sales reps can use the app to confidently pursue prospects with the best potential for approval.

“We’re keeping it as simple as possible to start out and may expand it further once we’re completely comfortable with it,” Drake said. “We’re not giving our sales people intimate details – just enough information so they know whether someone is a very good prospect from a credit standpoint or may present a challenge. We’re not formally turning anyone down, but we’re letting the sales people know they should only pursue it further if they feel there’s a great market potential.”

Companies may customize the app to provide a decision to include an approval or denial notice along with a credit limit recommendation – all based the company’s credit policies and Experian’s data.

Following Apogee’s initial test using a few tech-savvy sales people in the Tubelite business unit, the company plans to expand usage to the entire Tubelite sales team. If the company finds the solution meets its goals as expected, a full rollout to all business units will follow.

 Contact your NACM North Central rep or email for more information.