At what point should Sales get involved in a collection situation?

Whether sales should be involved in collections is still one of the most difficult balancing acts around. 

As a rule of thumb, salespeople should be aware of their customer’s payment status. Depending on the reason for the past due situation, giving them the first opportunity might just work. If that attempt fails, then the credit and collection team can take over.

Generally speaking, if accounts are just a little bit past due, it’s probably safe to let sales inquire if there’s a problem with the customer. This is more like customer service than actual collections. But between 30 – 60 days past due, a more concerted collection effort needs to be done by professional collectors who are not as emotionally connected to the customer. 

Another perspective on the matter is that in some companies sales professionals don’t like being the bad guys towards clients. They often end up not being effective and are apt to give unwarranted discounts and credits. 

Naturally, there is not a one size fits all approach. How involved sales becomes in collections will depend on the size of the company, the industry, the relationship, and the dollar amount. Usually in smaller companies, there is more overlap between roles. However, at larger organizations clear lines are drawn between sales and credit and collections. 

In short, sales should probably be involved in collections when:

  • The business depends on long-term relationships.
  • Sales professionals are paid only when the customer pays.
  • Sales professional can leverage their relationship with the customer to resolve disputes or other problems impeding payment.

I’d love to hear from you regarding any thoughts or ideas you may have on this poll accordingly. 

Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc.

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