Sales, To Whom, Should We Send The Invoice
We’ve all experienced that wonderful and exciting feeling when your organization signs up a new customer, and it's time to issue an invoice and start collecting. Only to have your heart sink when you realize you don’t know where to send the invoice and there are no known contacts within your new customer’s accounting department. There are best practices for preventing that sinking feeling but before we dive into them, let's first examine how we got here.
Sales’ natural focus is on closing deals, and they don’t want anything to interfere with that pursuit. Thus, we in accounting are reluctant to step into the sales process until they close the deal. But too often, by the time accounting is involved, the Sales team has moved on to the next opportunity, and we’re left alone to navigate the new customer’s org chart.
That leaves us with two challenges to prevent this common predicament:
How do we persuade Sales to care about our need for A/P contacts?
What’s an effective way to get involved earlier without interfering with the sales process?
Challenge 1: Get Sales On Board
Overcoming the first accounts receivable challenge begins with building and maintaining relationships with your Sales team. It starts with attending sales team meetings, getting to know your colleagues, and collaborating. Use those conversations to educate them on the collections processes, and help them understand what needs to occur to ensure timely collections.
It’s important to remind them that most commissions don’t pay until the customer pays. Ultimately, it’s in their best interest to get involved with A/R, so collection occurs more quickly and they get paid faster (if that doesn’t motivate them, we’re not sure what will).
Challenge 2: Transform the Sales Process
Of course, relationships alone will not be enough. It will also require inserting lightweight steps into the process to ensure Sales provides you with the head start you need. The best practice we recommend is a customer intake form. A standardized intake form provides the structure required without being bureaucratic. Thus you’re not slowing down the sales process while still obtaining the insights you need to move accurately and quickly post-close.
Here’s an example of an intake form our customers are successfully using.
By proactively tackling these challenges, you can start collecting with less effort and create a seamless and enjoyable process (and avoid that sinking feeling!). The good news is that these challenges are both relatively straightforward and will deliver a high effort-to-outcome ratio. Ultimately, revenue is not real until it gets paid, and these steps enable you to make that happen without always scrambling.
Now you can maintain the excitement every time your organization signs a new customer because you are locked in and ready to make the collections a success.