- The roles of finance and sales teams
- The importance of communication between the two
- Ways each team can help the other
Even if deductions are invalid and disputable, wouldn’t it be better to prevent them from happening in the first place? Getting your Sales and Finance Teams working together far before the deductions and post audits start hitting the accounts could help.
The Finance Team is doing the “clean up” work of the Sales Team, so to speak, so with both teams on the same page, there will be less to clean up! In today’s world, Finance Teams are generally located in the home office and the Sales Team is usually in the field closer to the customer. This allows the salesperson to be available for any last-minute meetings and to be more efficient with the customers. Often the communication between the Finance Team and the Sales Team happens once the deductions start rolling in, but at that point, it’s often too late. Early communication is essential, so we’ve put together some of our top recommendations on how best to facilitate communication across teams.
Be careful what you put in (or leave out of) emails
- The wording of emails from the supplier to the customer can be interpreted in many ways. Leaving a gray area will allow an auditor to spin their own interpretation, which leads to larger post audits. By working with your Finance Team on the wording you can eliminate the gray area.
- Example: When offering a price reduction, make sure to state in your email that this is just an offer until the buyer accepts the offer in writing by replying to the email. Possibly even give your offers numbers that you can easily track which offers are accepted. If an offer number is rejected and you want to edit and resubmit it, add a letter at the end of your offer number to allow you to track the negotiation that went on in that offer.
- Use exact dates – not just weeks – because Walmart weeks are different from the supplier’s weeks on a calendar and this could create some confusion.
- Details, details, details. The more details you put in your email the better.
Sales Teams: give your Finance Team a heads up
- When knowingly accepting a deduction, communicate that information to your Finance Team and how you plan to have this deduction cleared. This will eliminate the deduction sitting on your books for an extended amount of time.
- Copy your Finance Team on your emails with the customer. This will give them the information needed to research deductions without having to reach out to you repeatedly for more detail.
- Follow up on emails from Finance in a timely manner. Remember that the Finance and Sales Teams are on the same side with the same goals (to get deductions cleared as soon as possible), so when a question is asked, follow up with the details quickly.
Finance Teams: DO NOT email the buyer
- Don’t reach out to the supplier’s buyer without getting approval from your Sales Team first. Maintaining a single point of contact is very important and causes less confusion. Communicate with your Sales Team and ask them to reach out to the customer and copy you on the email. At that point, if there are additional questions you can assist in the email to get the issue resolved.
- Do not escalate above the buyer if you are not getting results. Ask your Sales Team to escalate the issue to get a resolution. Again, one point of contact is very important and builds a better relationship with your customer.
- Give your salesperson time to answer your questions before escalating internally. Building and maintaining a strong relationship with your Sales Team will help all parties achieve the desired outcome of clean books.
Deductions are constant pain, but with proper communication and openness, they can be prevented. Sales and finance teams can work together to get accounts in order and make a supplier much more profitable.
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