Quick Ways to Improve Sales Collaboration with Finance—and Vice Versa
It’s become an unfortunate reality for many companies that the relationship between finance and sales is more confrontational than collaborative.
Many organizations struggle with synchronizing sales and finance despite ultimately having the same goal of growing the business. This can stem from several factors, even the fact that the sales team is sometimes the side “left behind” because they still rely on manual data entry while finance has a firm digital grasp on their end of the business. Still, one rather obvious contributor to the gap between the two is a difference in mindset and action needed during each side’s portion of the process.
No one really wants the relationship between sales and finance to be contentious. In fact, they both function best together, with sales responsible for managing financial resources and ensuring stability while sales drives revenue generation, expands the customer base, and nurtures client relationships.
It’s time to create an environment for friendship and not friction between finance and sales teams, and these five tips can help.
Building Blocks for Better Finance and Sales Collaboration
Create and maintain an open finance and sales collaboration environment
Open doors of communication are a crucial pillar of every good business relationship. This starts with an understanding of each other’s goals and how they impact the more significant company priorities. Ideally, sales leaders and teams should understand what finance needs to know and the challenges they face, just as finance should understand the steps in the sales process so that they do not end up expecting modifications that are not realistic.
Once a collaborative environment is created, shared goals can be implemented by sales and finance leaders. This is an exercise that should be monitored and completed together so that ownership is fostered by both parties. Doing this successfully requires finance and sales collaboration that extends beyond seeing each other once a year. It’s important to have a mechanism such as Slack or Microsoft Teams to speak regularly, as well as the commitment to do so. If regular, in-person meetings are an option, that is great, too! The important element is ensuring that there is a true desire to focus jointly on the same priorities and that teams aren’t just going through the motions.
Make sure the customer experience is at the center of all processes
It may seem obvious that customer experience should be foremost, and it is almost always the best intention of every organization to do so, but that doesn’t always come to fruition. This happens for several reasons, including a lack of visible inter-departmental communication, the absence of consistent processes, and data issues. If accounting is handled separately from customer relationship activities, the company can end up giving off the impression it is unprofessional and uncoordinated.
It’s time to align the entire organization around the customer. That means from the technology perspective, that sales, service, and financial activity are consolidated into one place for a complete 360-degree view of customer data. Enter the single source of truth.
Ensure there is a single source of truth
How do you open up finance and sales collaboration and make sure the customer is at the center of all processes? Manage cross-departmental processes on a single platform. This can start with integrating your CRM and ERP systems. If finance and sales are working from separate systems, it’s almost impossible to get on the same page regarding goals and data analysis. It is also very challenging to provide a good experience for customers because disconnected processes mean neither team is seeing the same portion of the customer interactions. Disparate data also negatively impacts sales forecasting.
Improve the accuracy of the sales forecast
This isn’t just about future sales: This is getting to a deeper analysis of the value of each customer relationship and working to increase it. And you can measure the value and strength of customer relationships through tools like your CRM. While the overwhelming majority of sales executives say that strong relationships have significant impact on business, more than half of mid-market and emerging enterprise CFOs admit to lacking data that enables them to measure the value of customer relationships. So improving the accuracy of your sales forecast can be directly tied to upping customer relationships. And that starts with improving the information in your CRM.
Stay aligned on company goals and avoid silos
Putting all of this together is already a feat, but maintaining it is even more important. One of the easiest ways to create alignment is to close the cultural gap between sales and finance by building common data and from that, common goals. CFOs set specific profitability goals, and disconnect happens when sales incentives and targets aren’t well connected to those goals. When the two teams are using common tech stacks, have agreed on shared KPIs, and work off of a common dashboard, it facilitates a far better relationship of departments that work in tandem rather than in competition. Upgrading or replacing your CRM can help, but if you’ve already got a good CRM solution like NetSuite in place, then instead focus on building it out with robust and accurate information so that it is a single source of truth for both teams.
The Fastest Way to Improve Your CRM for Sales Collaboration
Whether your sales and finance teams are already working well and just need to close a few gaps, or they’re oil and water, investing in your CRM can have a direct—and positive—impact on the relationship between these teams.
Nearly half of surveyed sales reps admitted to relying on casual methods like email and Excel to track and store customer information. Unfortunately, while keeping that information siloed in inboxes and hard drives may seem to work in the short term, in the longer term, it negatively affects the business overall. Information that is not widely available to all the necessary teams may not be accounted for in future business decisions or reflected on company-wide dashboards where it needs to be seen. And it certainly will not foster finance and sales collaboration.
So we built powerful integration between NetSuite CRM and inboxes like Outlook and Gmail. Get a new email inquiry and want to add that contact as a prospect record in NetSuite? You can do that from the add-in without ever having to toggle out of your inbox. Want to track a particular email conversation that gives background and color to a challenging renewal process? Set the entire email chain—including future replies back and forth—to automatically sync to the NetSuite record, even off hours when you’re not at your computer. Give others full insight into a particular customer relationship by tagging any email from a particular address to sync with a NetSuite record. And all without ever having to leave your inbox.
Promote efficiency and accuracy, build that single source of truth, and facilitate better collaboration between sales and finance. You can get started in 30 minutes or less. Try CloudExtend Outlook or Google Workspace for free and see how much your teams’ collaboration could improve before the end of the year. Get started now.