As a credit professional, when was the last time you accompanied your sales professional on a client visit?

There’s no rule that a credit and/or collection team member should accompany a sales professional when visiting a client. I will say however, that the more credit professionals understand what is involved in their own sales process, the better credit decisions they may be able to make. 

Many times, we credit professionals have a tendency to focus in on the numbers within the documents. We become very adept at producing all kinds of ratios and analyzing the ins and outs of how well a company is doing. 

However, there are many “soft factors” that can impact a credit decision and those factors can often only be seen, heard, and felt by being at a customer’s location. 

I was recently speaking with a credit manager who went with his sales director to visit their customer, a mid-size pipe manufacturer, in rural Indiana. The reason for the visit was to get a handle on granting a very large amount of credit, far beyond what had been previously approved. 

The plant has about 200 employees and there was a lot of activity going on. Trucks were loading and unloading, forklifts were driving in many directions, and the entire plant was spotless. The credit manager asked the owner about their employee turnover during and since the pandemic, and to his surprise he was told that there was very little turnover. In view of the possibility that due to sickness some employees would not have been able to return to work, this was quite surprising. 

But what really hit home for the credit manager was learning that a large percentage of the customer’s employees have been working there for decades. Having a large solid core workforce certainly added to a sense of stability that would have never been seeable on a financial statement. 

In essence, the benefits of visiting one’s customers, learning about their business situation from the perspective of “soft factors” can greatly add to making a more balanced and confident credit decision. 

Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc. (

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