If there is a conflict between finance and sales, it has almost nothing to do with the people involved and almost everything to do with processes and systems. The reality is that sales and finance are on the same team and both are striving for the same goal: the ultimate success of the company.
Problems arise, however, when processes and systems between the two departments are not integrated. Then an error occurs and the response to the new threat or opportunity slows down. One of the biggest loopholes I see is that Finance and Sales have separate records that never seem to get along very well. In a perfect world, sales and finance would use CRM and network accounting systems that basically put everyone on the same page. In reality, however, the sales and finance teams still work separately and are often very distant when it comes to their data.
The results are not much. Instead of using one source of truth, the finance and sales teams had to advertise through a network of mismatched spreadsheets and confusing customer records. At a time when access to accurate information is critical, this team has questionable data that could end up putting business at risk. The two departments couldn’t get a clear picture of the sales, payments, and other critical data they so desperately needed.
Right now, however, the world is changing rapidly. Companies are gradually moving away from infrastructure where data is stored in silos and where everything revolves around the customer. To achieve this transition, companies first need coordinated reciprocal dialogue between front and back offices, which is embedded in increasing customer benefits and enabling data transparency and organizational flexibility.
Here are three ways companies can better sync their data to ensure sales and finances work together as a team and all work.
1: Match yourself to the customer
Every company must be a customer-oriented company. The current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes this very clear. The company’s goal is to build strong and potentially lifelong relationships with customers.
However, when financial activities are separated from sales activities, the business can appear complicated and unprofessional to customers. For example, after agreeing a set of terms with the sales team, the customer might receive a completely different set of terms from the finance team. If financing and sales are not coordinated, there is often small income and losses after the transaction is completed which can lead to large sums. These are just a few of the many problems that can be resolved by better matching of sales and financing data to common platforms.
By consolidating around the customer, certain team members can also access the details and insights they need to perform most effectively. For example, accounts receivable for accounts receivable may decide not to pressure the customer for the next payment when they see a large sale ahead of the account and move costs onto the sale. Or the support team might discover an ongoing service issue that needs to be addressed before annoying a customer with an expiration notification. Sales, in turn, can be an extension of financing and collecting invoices during sales / service calls.
2: Think back to the back office
Sales and finance teams must come together as a whole with the same goal. The best way to do this is to stop thinking about the traditional “front office” and “back office.” Instead, think back to what a modern back office would be like when the finance team had the right information at the right time. This is important because in today’s service economy, the finance function needs to provide an overview of the business involved. How can your company maximize the value and contribution margin that customer relationships generally provide to the services and / or products you offer?
Modern back offices seamlessly integrate financial systems into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and thus offer finance teams a clear and precise view of sales and revenue flows. This type of ranking also allows the finance team to make more accurate predictions based on company-wide data, which and what scenarios are better to model and the optimal pricing strategy.
Ultimately, a modern back office can help eliminate frustrating mistakes between finance and sales and reduce missing areas of revenue, such as: B. Billing errors, increase in pending sales days (DSO), exceed project costs, and wean customers off.
3: Centralize data used by finance and sales
Before a merchant knocks on a customer’s door and tries to sell them something new, it’s important to understand the customer’s usage and billing history. For example, is there a constant challenge to reunite with this customer? The finance team also needs information about this customer. Is it a customer who needs clear payment terms or has experience with late payments? What is the real price to serve this customer? How profitable is this customer in fact – and would it be better for the company’s real customer not to renew it?
The only way to answer this question is after you have sorted all your financial and sales data.
Here’s the good news: whether you’re a new company or a century-old company, it’s never too late to aggregate the data your sales and finance teams use. It is recommended that you centralize all your information on one cloud platform so that all data is easily accessible to all members of the finance and sales departments.
It’s important to note that cloud-based systems go beyond CRM and now cover all aspects of a business. This means that it is now possible to manage CRM and accounting in a cloud environment such as the Salesforce platform from anywhere on any device. With this integration and flexibility, sales and finance teams can easily share the same account records and delete most of the old, intermittent processes.
For example, the finance team no longer has to use a series of emails and voice messages to ensure expense reports are approved by marketing and sales managers. If the company has an efficient workflow that spans both departments, this type of permission can now be easily done online with a few taps of a mobile device from any remote environment.
Bridging the sales-finance gap can be immensely profitable for a business, resulting in significant efficiency, cost savings and opportunities for growth. Focusing on customers not only brings great benefits to the company, but also brings revenue and finance to the same team with shared tools and a common plan for success.