Talk is cheap… but invaluable.
Sadly, many of those wishing to buy, invest or do business at present are finding it hard to find someone to speak to.
Outward bound telephone calls from companies have fallen in recent times as confidence among staff members has plummeted and anxiety levels have soared. This is particularly noticeable in the broad finance sector, including professionals in financial planning, mortgage broking, stockbroking and banking.
Clients and customers appear to be keen to discuss, not accounts, but accountability.
Refreshingly, the better performing businesses are those which are encouraging and facilitating all their people to be open, accessible to and engaging with suppliers, associates, customers and loyal clients.
The delineation between frontline service providers and background support staff has been removed. In these turbulent times everyone, yes everyone, is part of the marketing, sales and service teams. This is a very salient message for those in credit management.
“A change is as good as a holiday …” “A different perspective provides new insights”
The underlying philosophies of these statements are the driving forces for an increasing number of management teams. They seek to embrace a progressive strategy with the intent for an inclusive culture to be fostered, with attendant enhancements in performance, bondship and stability among staff members.
For example, the title, “credit department” has been changed to “marketing support”, or similar.
Key performance indicators have retained the pre-eminent need for financial prudence but not complemented by a recognition that in the contemporary global business environment sales and marketing are impeded without effective, supportive and positive credit policies and practices.
Unquestionably credit managers and officers can and will make it happen. It is they who can address and redress widely held myths which have little or no foundations of truth. Among such are a belief by many existing and prospective clients that no-one is lending and that all credit terms are being wound in on all clients.
Clearly, there is a need for, and countless advantages to be gained from a re-education and reassurance program for all existing, prospective and post clients.
The lessons are simple:
• Without credit, business slows to a tedious, unprofitable grind.
• Without re-education and reassurance, substantial sales opportunities are lost – primarily because of ill founded perceptions.
One fundamental in establishing and sustaining relationships is the need for a strong personal component.
Credit, along with service and support people should be more than just the voice on the end of the telephone line or the initiator of a stream of “payment demand” emails and SMS messages.
A conspicuous, personal presence in the marketplace facilitates and promotes greater communication. Not surprisingly, when people talk, the topic often turns to business and as a consequence sales, profits and increased customer satisfaction evolve.
Indeed, it should be desirable, if not mandatory, for credit people to accompany sales and marketing representatives to the premises of clients at periodic intervals. The costs incurred are a foundation investment in long-term relationships and the well documented lifetime value of customers.
Above all else, the introduction of a credit and/or support person in the regular sales calls of representatives adds to the justification for the visit and a new focus on issues addressed.
It was former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who said:
“The business of business is business.”
In the current turbulent environment it is not necessary, nor possibly appropriate to “talk up” business. Talking business will suffice. The benefits are direct and indirect, quantifiable and profitable.
Research has revealed that those businesses which maintain regular, positive content through multiple channels (read, different staff members) are consistently among the first paid.
This highlights further, the strategically important role they can and should be paid by creative credit and other “backroom people” who, correctly, identify their primary function to be marketing and sales support.
Image the impact that is achieved by credit people who personally phone clients who settle outstanding accounts within the standard credit periods to express their appreciation and gratitude.
What a refreshing change to overbearing letters and telephone calls of “payment demands”.
Modern business is like politics. Few people are enthused or focussed on the processes of production or legislation. Interest tends to centre on the outcomes, advantages and benefits. In both scenarios a widespread need exists to repackage the entities, individuals, products and services. That is called marketing.
A change from credit management to marketing support has a nice ring to it.
Or is that the cash register recording and banking another sale and establishing a closer relationship?