Sales and Finance: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Most of the time, there is at least a little friction between sales and finance. Having been on both sides of this relationship, I understand that neither side is in the right or wrong. Sales and finance share the responsibility of getting as many bikes, ATVs, side-by-sides and other products as they can out the door; but at the same time, they have totally different roles.The most common complaint I hear about finance is that they take too long to complete a deal. From finance, I hear that sales is always rushing them. These are two sides of the same issue. When each side can see this and try to bridge the gap, they find that they can be friends!


Sales says: “All finance needs to do is get some paperwork signed, and the customer can leave with the bike.” 


Finance says: “I need to make sure all customer information is complete and legible. I need to make sure all of the forms are printed correctly. I need to make sure I have copies or IDs, proof-of-insurance, proof-of-address and any other stipulation the bank requires for funding. I also need to sell as much product as I can without exceeding the finance cap. I need to make sure parts doesn’t add anything on at the last minute that mess the figures up. And I need to answer questions for salespeople about five other deals when they can’t remember the customer’s name, all while getting the one I am working on ready for the next customer.” 


Do these complaints sound familiar?

They are both right.  So, how do we improve this situation? First, we need to acknowledge that all of these needs from both sides are legitimate. 

Customers need to be out of the dealership ASAP. We all know that our industry is one of want, not need. If the sale takes too long, we can lose it all together. This benefits nobody!


Both sides need to agree that the finance department will do everything they can to get the customers handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.

All forms need to be completed correctly and legibly. The issue of incomplete, inaccurate, or illegible information is by far the biggest slow down in the finance office. With all online credit applications, specific pieces of information must be filled in. If this information is missing from the application, the person entering the information must stop and track down the customer and get this information before moving forward. 


If the finance source that is being used has an application with a short time-out function, the system can also time-out while the information is being collected. Then the application needs to be entered again from the beginning, costing more time. Even worse than that is a situation where the information is inaccurate and the customer is wrongly denied credit due to erroneous information. What if the customer is not financing? Finance can easily waste five or more minutes reprinting a customer’s paperwork if the salesperson forgot to write “Jr.” at the end of the customer’s name. 


One of the easiest ways to remedy these situations is to have the sales or finance manager review all customer information with the customer before entering it into either an online credit application or your DMS. This may seem like it will take extra time, but the time saved by eliminating these errors will far outweigh the time spent double-checking customer information.

Finance needs to sell their products.

The salesperson gets plenty of time to sell the bike. When that is done, finance deserves to have the chance to make their sales.

Salespeople need to know about pending deals in finance. Yes, the salespeople should be fully informed about the status of their deals; and finance needs to be left alone to get paperwork ready for the next customer. The most effective way to satisfy both parties’ needs is to have a simple “bank submission log.”


If finance logs ALL bank activity on each deal, including bank stipulations, there should be no reason that a salesperson would need to interrupt finance to ask about the status of a customer’s credit application. I have seen this done on paper, on a cloud service such as Google Docs, or on the dealership’s internal server. As long as the finance manager keeps the log up to date and the salespeople know where to find the information, both sides can get what they need.  

Steve Dodds II is a moderator, trainer and consultant for Gart Sutton and Associates with experience in every position in the sales and finance departments. Dealers rave about his ability to identify areas for improvement and implement the changes that produce superior results. If you have questions about what he or one of our other talented consultants can do for you, contact us at [email protected].

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