Sales and Accounts – Divided by Common Language


Sales and Accounts – Divided by Common Language

It won’t help to speak louder and slower to the accounts team, it will not help at all. You need to be able to ask questions and make requests in particular ways.


Some tips if you are required to venture into the accounts office……

Say something nice. Just like you should to anyone. My mate Dave used to take a bag of lollies with him when he dropped off his invoice.

Ask if they have time to talk about…… summarise the issue in just a few words. Eg, the “Brisbane Progress Payments”. If they say “Sorry but I have to do payroll”, or some such thing, there is a 99% chance they are not fobbing you off. Just ask when’s a good time. Right now you are thinking this is all pretty basic stuff but it’s good to remind ourselves.

Some people ask about things like pets, sport or hobbies first. Do that after the work stuff is sorted so they know what’s up. Also, never make the mistake of quoting Monty Python or The Simpsons unless you are trying to kill time.

Focus on just one thing at a time. If sending an email, one email for each thing. Unlike the rest of you mob with 10,000 emails in your inbox, accounts people file their emails in folders once they are actioned. They find that satisfying.

Ask the accounts person’s opinion about the problem. It amazes me how many people don’t do this. It’s what they do all day, they probably have pretty good insight.

Don’t jump straight to the solutions. If they throw up a solution early they might be all over it, or they might be just too busy to think about it. Ask “is that what we normally do?” Else say “that could work” and ask another question.

Ask “how do other accounts departments do this?”

If you feel like there is a problem you need to fix make sure you already have thought about what to do, find out from someone you trust, or google it. Say “I found this”, show them, and then say “what do you think?”

Don’t be surprised if they balk at the idea of changing anything. Unlike most people, once accounts staff start doing something they usually keep doing it for a long time. Like ships that change direction slowly.

Remember that anything you want to change has to be explored as potential changes to more than one process. All things coming into accounts have to be “processed” in some way. Ask them to step you through what it might mean.

You have a few core tasks in your job, accounts have hundreds. It’s hard for them to ponder zen stillness when their job is like a constant game of Space Invaders.

Try not to ask qualitative questions when you are talking about processes, “Is this a good way to do it” will mostly get you blank stares.

Everyone thinks they’re a good driver and most accounts people think they’re good at spreadsheets but that’s a bit like saying you are good at using a typewriter. The test is if the spreadsheet, or system, can process, document, and communicate with clarity.

Most people’s jobs follow processes set up by someone else. It’s unfair to ask accounts people to build the processes as well as drive them, or worse, fix someone else’s mess. It’s like rubbing your stomach and patting your head.

Always say thank you and publicly praise people if they help you. They get a bit forgotten sometimes.

It’s much better, and cheaper, to use someone smart to tackle process improvement across all of your business. Use Upwork or a casual if that better suits your size.

I know a bunch of people that are good at it if you want to hit me up.



Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash