Finance and Sales are two areas of the business that, traditionally, struggle to deal with each other. Finance people are analytical, pragmatic and logical team players.
Their friends in Sales, on the other hand, tend to be more independent, creative, and goal oriented, and often struggle with internal communication.
So,what’s the problem? We don’t have to be friends with everyone, right? Well, effective communication and collaboration between Finance and Sales is crucial for the overall success of a business.
If communication and mutual understanding is the primary need then the business systems are essential to facilitate that. Choosing the right ERP and CRM systems is vital.
Let’s take a look at how NetSuite approaches bridging this gap.
Understanding the Challenges
Lack of Visibility
Without proper integration between Finance and Sales systems, there is a lack of visibility into each department's activities.
Sales teams might lack insight into the financial health of customers, credit limits,or outstanding invoices. Conversely, Finance teams may have limited visibility into sales pipelines, deal statuses, or customer-specific information.
This lack of visibility can result in misalignment, missed opportunities, and challenges in accurately assessing the financial impact of sales activities. All bad news!
Many businesses find themselves organically ending up with separate Accounting and CRM systems. NetSuite covers both of these system requirements - It is a best of breed accounting tool and has an impressive array of both standard CRM features and more advanced add-ons.
Even if a business chooses to keep two separate systems they can still integrate them. The ultimate goal is the same. For sales data to be accessible to the Finance team and vice versa.
Once all the data is accessible through NetSuite, here are some ways one can address that lack of visibility.
- NetSuite’s Customer Record: The customer record in NetSuite acts like a central hub for customer specific sales data. It shows a perfect example of the seamless integration between two parts of the system. Sales activities and tasks can be viewed alongside outstanding balances and unapplied credit memos. All users should be walked through the complete picture the customer record can paint for them and their team.
- Custom forms and Dashboards: With this full integration comes countless financial metrics that can aid the Sales team in their activities. Use the custom forms feature to add helpful information where it will be seen; Days to pay, credit checks, total sales value. Similarly, there is plenty of data that the Finance team would benefit from greater visibility of. Use the custom KPIs feature or reminder sportlet to pull sales and forecast figures directly to the dashboard of Finance team members.
- Reporting: NetSuite is an absolute goldmine of data but it can sometimes be challenging figuring out where to look. Custom reports and searches can be built to give a more holistic view of activities. Shortcut key reports to the dashboard so they are always front and centre. Create lists of similar searches and plug them in to the lists portlet.
Finance and Sales departments have different goals and objectives. While Sales teams focus on generating revenue and closing deals, Finance teams prioritize stability, profitability, and risk management. Misalignment here can create tensions and misunderstandings. Bridging this gap requires effective communication and alignment of ultimate business goals to strike a balance.
The benefit of NetSuite being your primary business system is that all data is in one place. As long as you can get people engaged in the system you will find ways to get them all pulling in the same direction.
Here are some tools that can help.
- NetSuite Calendar: Far too many NetSuite users either don’t know there is a calendar tool or they simply don’t use it. Utilize this tool to set key events and reminders. If Finance require critical data from Sales teams as part of month end, schedule a reminder. Browser popups or emails can be scheduled to prompt an action and prevent bottlenecks.
- Salesforce Automation (SFA): Not to be mistaken for the CRM system Salesforce, SFA is a suite of NetSuite CRM features. Start utilizing the integrated sales commission management and you will see a massive uptick in Sales team’s system engagement. Conflicting priorities are often simply conflicting ways of working. Bringing targets in to NetSuite will bring with it the team members. Having everyone’s goals in one place will enable better collaboration.
- KPI Scorecard: Use the KPI Scorecard feature for NetSuite dashboards to build an inclusive, comprehensive view of the business. The scorecard shows a range of metrics that might include department specific KPIs alongside crossovers that both teams could be pushing for.
Typically, Sales team members work independently and have a habit of not broadcasting their movements, forecast values and probabilities. This is difficult for the Finance team who need to provide accurate reporting on the financial standing of the overall business.
Avery basic report would at least include a forecast of sales figures. This,however, can be surprisingly hard to pry from the grasp of Sales.
Barriers can arise from different terminology, lack of shared systems, or limited opportunities for interaction. Overcoming these hurdles requires establishing clear channels of communication, fostering cross-departmental relationships,and promoting consistent use of the primary business system.
Fortunately, all of these roadblocks can be eliminated with easy system best practices and a few essential add-ons.
Here are some ideas to get started on the road to opening up those communication lanes.
- CRM Integration: If NetSuite is not your primary CRM tool then you need to integrate. If I am using Salesforce all daylong but I need to log in to NetSuite to communicate information to other teams, I am probably not going to log in to NetSuite.
If you are already using NetSuite for both accounting and CRM then both teams should be utilizing User Notes and Tasks to communicate with each. User Notes are massively neglected by most businesses but when the whole organization is on board they can provide a world of information. Customize forms in NetSuite to bring the User Notes sub tab to a more prominent position, where possible, so it is not forgotten.
- Outlook integration: NetSuite has an adequate emailing feature but it can be hard to get Sales folk to turn their back on Outlook for extended periods. With a NetSuite Outlook integration, emails can be logged against customer records or even specific transactions. Calendars can be synced and tasks can be created externally. This allows for smoother transfer of information and gives the system users a more complete view of Sales activities and communications.
- File Cabinet: Stop losing attachments in the inbox and utilize the NetSuite file cabinet. Share documents through private folders or attach them to records and transactions. Install the Drag and Drop feature to upload documents to predefined folders in seconds. Files haring can be as easy as the two teams decide it will be!
Addressing the disconnect between Finance and Sales departments is crucial for maximizing overall business performance. By aligning priorities, improving visibility, and enhancing communication, organizations can start to build bridges and internal networks that will strengthen all departments.
The tools mentioned above are just touching the surface of solutions available and for the most part I have tried to shine a light on standard functionality.
NetSuite does, however, have bundles and add-ons for miles so if there is a more specific issue that needs addressing, speak to a consultant and get some bespoke recommendations.
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