Credit guru Thea Dudley has spent more than 30 years in LBM credit management. Now she's here to answer your credit and collections questions. Got a question for her mailbag? Contact Thea at [email protected].

Dear Thea,
I’m a sales representative who’s been in the construction industry for a long time. I know my customers very well and it’s offensive to me when I have a credit manager question me on my support of one of my longtime customers. I’ve spent a lot of time building these relationships and am not looking to lose money any more than the credit manager. So it’s irritating to me to be portrayed as a hapless, heartless, anything-for-the-sale, don’t-care-about-anything-but-myself-and-my-sales-goals kind of guy. I would like to remind you that, just like credit managers, there are good sales reps and not so great ones and, just like credit managers, the good ones would like a little respect.
Signed, Not All Sales Reps Are Created Equal

Dear Not Created Equal, Pleasing everyone is impossible, but pissing multiple people off at any given time is a piece of cake. My dear, whatever has given you the idea that I view all sales reps of the same ilk? Not so. Sales reps are some of my very favorite people. You and your kind have provided me with hours of emotional peaks and valleys. The mind of a sales rep never fails to intrigue me. Credit and sales have different seats on the bus, but never mistake that I (and many of my credit-managing kind) understand we’re on the same bus.

Sales reps have given me unlimited hours of entertainment, frustration, and education. Let me give you a more visual description of my thoughts on sales reps: I equate them to underpants. Yes, you read that right, underpants. Some crawl up your booty. Some snap under pressure. Some don’t have the strength to hold you up. Some get a little twisted. Some support you. Some are your favorite. Some are cheap and are always bent out of shape. And finally, some actually do cover your butt when you need them to!

I know you’ve turned that around in your head to describe credit managers. Fair enough. Just like sales reps, credit managers come in all shades of the professional spectrum. I’ve run into credit managers I don’t understand anymore than some sales professionals. Those are the challenges I like. Challenging the thinking. Encountering a credit manager who’s stuck in the antiquated line of thinking that credit and sales are adversarial and never the two shall meet, and saying, “Nope, not my pasture, not my cows.”

It reminds me of people doing the two-foot shuffle and never going out of the little box they’ve created with their two little steps. These are the credit managers I don’t connect with. If we’re going to do this dance, the entire dance floor is mine and I’m going to use it.

Same with sales. When I walk into a sales meeting and encounter a sales rep who’s never worked with a true credit professional—someone who understands the business, what it takes to get sales, is willing to work to help keep or get the customer, educate, and support the salesperson—that’s when the fun for a credit pro begins. Showing them the “dark side” isn’t as frightening as they thought.

So, dear Not Created Equal, you made your point. I hope you’re now feeling the credit love. Don’t misunderstand, I’m still going to giggle (alright, laugh out loud) at some of the things my reps do and say—the stories are just too good—but it’s done with love when retold with multiple glasses of wine at credit conferences everywhere.