I have heard and been told that credit risk management professionals don’t really have a sales professional’s spirit. The idea of getting out into the unknown and trying to sell ourselves and our company’s products or services seems uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve come across comments like, “If only credit knew how hard it is to make a buck, they wouldn’t be so quick to always put the brakes on a sale.” Well, that may at times have some truth to it since getting and maintaining customers is a very difficult process. 

Could a good credit risk manager also be a good sales professional?

Let’s face it, not every personality is good for sales. Some people are better suited for working all day behind the computer and relying on the emails they write and the reports they produce to speak for them. Still others are better equipped to solve internal problems with their team or other departments, never venturing outside of that corporate comfort zone. 

But it takes a certain personality to get on the phone and without any introduction or connection, “cold call” someone and see if you can interest them in your products and services. Having done this for decades, I have experienced thousands of rejections. Fortunately, I didn’t take them seriously and just kept calling the next one and the next one after that. There is a saying in sales that it takes calling almost hundred companies until you finally catch one that will use your services. Some of our largest clients have come on board through cold calls. 

Of course, “cold calling” is far from the only way someone can effectively do sales as one can be very effective at networking events, conferences, seminars, and other areas where meeting people face to face can be advantageous.

Whatever the sales mode, it’s just like when calling current clients/customers on past due accounts — it’s all about the power of persuasion. This includes the tone of our voice, the delivery of our words, the level of politeness, the ability to listen, and a knack for immediately navigating the complexities of human relations.  

Above all, a strong belief in the product and service is imperative in supporting the enthusiasm and motivation behind any sales approach. 

I believe that with a little guidance and training, many credit professionals would be wonderful in doing sales. After all, we are already helping sales to make sure that a sale will be completed when the customer’s payment has been received and cleared. In fact, having a credit background makes our sales efforts even more focused. 

You see, some sales professionals may have only dollar signs in their eyes when they are pursuing a new client or trying to get more business from an existing client. There may be at times a loosening of credit controls that result in the client’s payment becoming delayed or not forthcoming at all. But having the credit background and knowing how to make the sale as safe as possible (without losing the sale), is what can make the credit professional’s sales efforts much more valuable. 

When a credit professional understands not only how difficult it is to bring in a new client, but also understands how to make the sale safe, they are truly making the company they work for a stronger and more profitable entity. In the end, isn’t that the goal?

I’m not suggesting that every credit manager immediately go to their superior and suggest that they start doing sales. I am however suggesting that in terms of their own personal development, as well as the further development of their organization that they work for, consider working in sales for a period of time that would make use of many valuable skill sets acquired from their credit risk management experience. 

Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators Inc.

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