Christmas is over for another year and many businesses will be looking to the New Year to bring new clients and orders.
Just as retail businesses discount their stock ever earlier, many SMEs will be putting together tantalizing special offers, keen to fill up their order books as quickly as possible. This enthusiasm can be counter-productive, however, when it results in hasty order processing that neglects small but important details.
January is, therefore, a really good time to look at our procedures and make sure that our sales teams get into the habit of asking a few key questions when they take orders (see the checklist on the right).
To avoid misunderstanding of what has been ordered why not confirm the order in writing? A brief e-mail will suffice, and you can take the opportunity to request confirmation from the customer before delivery.
The perfect order is one that follows a quote and terms and conditions which have been agreed in writing. Never has the expression, “The devil is in the detail,” been more apt!
John met Mike at a business breakfast. Mike sounded like he was running the business he represented and ordered a large quantity of a product from John, which John delivered promptly.
Three months later, the invoice is still unpaid.
Further investigation showed that Mike was just an employee of the company and had no authority to order without the directors’ approval. In the meantime, he had left the business.
Meeting someone once, speaking to them for a few minutes doesn’t really mean you know them. John assumed Mike was running the business and went ahead with the verbal order. He should have found out a little bit more about the company before delivering the goods.
TIP: Always confirm the order in writing and make sure the person you are dealing with has the appropriate authority
At a Glance
Processing New Clients and Orders
- Company name (legal entity) and address
- Delivery / billing address (if different)
- Accounts payable contact details (name, email, phone)
- Purchasing contact details (name, email, phone)
- PO authorization process understood (very important if payment is not made with order).
- Purchaser made aware of vendor’s terms and conditions.
- Order confirmed in writing prior to delivery
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal