Can the Prospect Pay?

By Heather Baldwin

You could have Tom Hopkins himself on your sales team and all those extra sales he closes won’t mean a thing if the new customers don’t pay their bills. It’s a harsh truth in selling – no matter how great a salesperson you are, your commission ultimately depends on something completely out of your control. Yet if you try to reduce that risk by injecting a credit assessment of the prospect into your sales process, you run counter to company goals of accelerating the sales cycle and building revenue. What’s a sales manager caught in the middle to do?

Solving this damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t quandary is the goal of Credit Insights, a new add-on module to OneSource’s Business Browser. The module provides users with modeled credit ratings using data from InfoUSA and recommends credit limits for up to 13 million companies in the United States and Canada. The scoring is based on a number of factors, including the size of the company (assets, revenues and employees), how long the company has been in business and the volatility of their industry. It also factors in any past bankruptcies and significant pending legal proceedings. The credit score can be viewed as a number between 50 and 100 or, more generally, as a letter grade, such as A, A-, B+ and so on. Best of all for busy sales reps, the data is available instantly.

“The models are good for low-risk credit decisions,” says Brad Haigis, OneSource’s vice president of products. “You don’t want to pay for an expensive Dunn & Bradstreet detailed credit report early in the sales cycle when you don’t even know if the company is going to buy. But you want your sales reps thinking early in the sales cycle about whether the customer will be able to pay.”

The models can be good not only for prioritizing prospects, but for developing a sales approach as well. For example, if you’re selling a $5,000 product to a $10 billion company with an A rating, you should have no worries about their ability to pay and can forge ahead with your normal sales process. If, however, you’re selling a $100,000 piece of equipment to a $50 million company with a C rating, you might want to move them further down the priority list or start asking different questions and presenting different payment options. Maybe you bring in a leasing company or other financial organization to take the risk rather than you. That’s the kind of information you need up front in the sales process to begin making those decisions early on.

“We have found people want to learn quickly, easily and inexpensively up front where they should be focusing their sales efforts,” Haigis concludes. “The ability to pay is one way to prioritize who they go after.”

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