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Dear CFO…

As CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting Manager or something similar, you possess an important role related to the development of your organizations business strategy.

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As CFO, Head of Finance, Accounting Manager or something similar, you possess an important role related to the development of your organizations business strategy. And as far as I’m concerned, this role isn’t limited to the traditional areas of responsibility for the finance function, like for example handling cash flow and profitability.

In my opinion, you also have the responsibility to help your management colleagues in the other business functions by diving somewhat further in these areas. With this blog post, I’ll focus on how you, as responsible for the finance department, can contribute the create a highly efficient sales organization and thereby influence the growth agenda for your business.

Developing commercial performance

You’ve probably already been involved in certain topics within the commercial area – for example remuneration schemes, pricing, forecasting, terms & conditions etc. If we then talk about business development, CFO’s has primarily been involved in optimization and streamlining of operations- and production processes.

However, we are now at a point where you need to bring your strengths into play in other areas.

As a CFO you’re typically strong on some fundamental competences, where your colleague with executive responsibility for the sales organization, on the other hand isn’t necessarily that strong.

On the contrary to most salespeople, finance people are usually process- and detail-oriented combined with a solid focus on data and analysis. You need to bring this into play in order to help your sales organization.

One of the areas you should investigate is efficiency in the sales organization. It’s important that you don’t make this task a sole desk-based operation.

It’s more important that you get out of your comfortable office and seek to understand the sales organization. How do they work, what tools are at their disposal, is the any obstacles and dependencies in their processes etc.?

Spend some time with salespeople in your organization and get insight in their daily routines. You don’t necessarily need to initiate a full-blown analysis on this one, you’ll get far enough with your naturally structured approach and analytical skills.

Processes and tools

So far so good. Now you need to explore the actual processes and tools that your salespeople are operating with and under. The obvious category here is the actual sales process and the tools related to this. This category can then be split in multiple sub-categories, where the CRM system typically is listed in the top as the key tool:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  2. Sales and market intelligence
  3. Lead handling and prospecting
  4. Analytics and reporting
  5. Process and training
  6. Automation and integrations

Common for the tools across these categories is that they typically, as mentioned, relates to the sales process and for the tools that aren’t the actual CRM system, they often work together with the CRM system or work as enhancers to it. The degree of cohesiveness as well as how they are incorporated your organizations sales process can have great importance for the sales productivity. An important sentence to remember here, is “better tools, not more tools”. So, make sure to remember this, if you start to investigate this area.

There is also another category, namely the one that covers the processes and tools that doesn’t have to do with the sales process, but typically are generic across multiple employee groups and departments in the organization. In other words, general administrative processes that employees must follow. It can for example be the following sub-categories:

  1. HR – for example time and absence registration
  2. Finance – for example expenses, travel, reimbursement and mileage
  3. General IT and security – for example access and telephony

Within these areas, it is my opinion that it’s a healthy exercise for most businesses to investigate whether a perspective about increasing sales productivity has been considered when these processes have been set up.

I completely understand, that this type of processes can’t necessarily be designed around the needs of a single department, but remember that in many organizations, a large part of the value creation is made in the sales team, so make sure that you take that into account. When you talk to the salespeople in your business, I’m pretty sure that they will tell you, that they often struggle with their time consumption in one or more of the above processes.

Do something good for your salespeople

Summertime is at our doorstep and most of us will check out for holiday soon. But if you are just a little bit like me, then you probably cannot help to think a little bit about business when you’re off. In continuation of the above, I’ll encourage you to, during this summer, reflect on what areas you potentially can dive further into with the aim of helping other departments to gain increased productivity. I could for example be to do something good for your salespeople.

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