How the Finance Team & Sales Team Can Work Together
The finance team and the sales team are usually thought of as two totally separate entities with little crossover between them. The finance team members are the “number crunchers” and the sales team members are the “rain makers.” They live in separate worlds, the thinking usually goes, and there’s little if any reason for them to interact with each other.
But this kind of thinking can severely limit the sales potential of an organization. The finance department can play a valuable role in the sales process if management is able to change its thinking about the traditional roles of these two departments.
Challenges in Working Together
That’s not to say, however, that companies don’t face challenges when it comes to incorporating finance into the sales process. For example:
- The sales data collection process and analysis of this data are often performed as two different functions.
- Sales forecasting and generation require specific customer knowledge that members of the finance department may not possess.
- The finance team may not have the necessary information to provide “value add” to the sales generation process. Certain tools like customer relationship management (CRM) databases have traditionally been separate from enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages.
- Finance department policies like restrictive credit granting and collection procedures can serve to depress sales and revenue generation.
Your company may experience a number of negative impacts by failing to incorporate the work of the finance team into the sales process. For example, cost data may be non-existent, thus not affording the sales team a good understanding of profit margins. And poorly designed supply chain processes may limit product sales potential.
At the same time, though, too much involvement by finance in sales can force a revenue outcome rather than allowing the sales process to take place naturally. And a lack of understanding of product offerings by the finance department can result in it being bypassed as an information source by the sales team
How a CFO Partner Can Help
Engaged as either a project CFO or part-time CFO, a CFO services partner can work with you to help you incorporate finance into your sales process. This high-level financial professional will have worked with many other entrepreneurs and middle-market CEOs to help them reap the benefits of getting finance involved in sales. More specifically, a CFO partner can:
- Provide integrated database solutions with the sales team that can aid in the revenue generation process.
- Align sales goals and objectives with the overall objectives of the company.
- Devise effective credit strategies that protect the financial interests of the company while providing flexible credit policies that will maximize revenue.
- Coordinate goals between sales and the finance team that will serve to maximize long-term revenue. Sometimes, short-term sales goals will serve to undermine long-term operational goals — a CFO partner works to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
- Help the finance team perform data collection on items that relate to key sales performance goals, thus helping maximize the effectiveness of the sales team.
Your company could realize a number of benefits by hiring an outsourced CFO to help you incorporate finance into your sales process, including the following:
- Policies and procedures within the sales department will be in alignment with the overall goals of the company, which will give the sales team more predictability as it solicits business.
- You’ll have access to more timely information on pricing and margins, which will help ensure that the sales team knows exactly the kind of operational and financial environment in which it operates.
- The finance department will be able to provide timely financial information on sales goals for individual salespeople, which are key to driving revenue attainment.
- There will be high availability of salable product while at the time ensuring the company is not overstocked with inventory, thus preserving valuable cash flow.
The finance and sales functions of a company are usually thought of as two totally separate entities. However, this kind of thinking can severely limit the sales potential of an organization. The finance team can play a valuable role in the sales process if management is able to change its thinking about the traditional roles of these two departments. A part-time CFO or project CFO from a CFO services firm can help you incorporate the finance department into your sales process, thus boosting sales and revenue.
Mark S. Becker, Partner, CFO Edge, LLC