Written by Will Aitkenhead
Posted on 27/10/2015

Influencing skills are essential for a credit manager

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A recent Credit Manager job description profile on the National Careers Service website stated that good management, motivation and judgement skills were required to be successful in the role. Alongside these core credentials it is also vital to consider the importance of influencing, which is a skill that can be difficult to teach. It largely comes down to experience and preparation, so the more contact that credit managers have with different people, the better their influencing will be.

An essential skill for all employers

Whenever you come across a job description or advert for a credit manager, invariably they list strong influencing skills as a key requirement. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) stated on a recent advert that they were looking for a candidate with: “Strong consulting and influencing skills as well as outstanding written and verbal communication skills.”

Similarly, an advert on recruitment firm Robert Half’s website is asking for: “Influencing skills – externally with clients, internally with general managers, account teams and senior executives.”

Clearly it is something that all firms are looking for, and it is easy to understand why.

Negotiation abilities are critical

Negotiation is a key component of influencing and understanding what it is should be the first step to improving your own skills. Negotiation involves a discussion that is aimed at reaching an agreement. With this in mind you should always go into any negotiation with a clear aim. How you get to that aim will vary depending on the project, but by using your knowledge and experience as a guide, you will quickly be able to assess the best way of reaching that point of agreement.

Whether you are assessing the creditworthiness of customers, trying to increase sales, exploring credit applications or looking at corporate credit policy, your negotiation skills will be called upon regularly. The more influence you can have on the negotiations, the more likely you are to reach an agreement that suits you. So be sure you go into any discussions with a clear target.

Your own staff

Influencing those who work for you or in your team is another important task for a modern credit manager. You need to exude a feeling of confidence that will motivate your workforce to follow your lead and work for you. If you can have an influence over your own team you will find it much easier to influence the day-to-day running of the business.

Six sources of influence

Many people often turn to the ‘six sources of influence’ when considering how effective their influencing skills are. These cover:

  1. Personal motivation – do you want to do the job well?
  2. Personal ability – can you do the job?
  3. Social motivation – do the people around you inspire you?
  4. Social ability – does your team provide help and/or resources?
  5. Structural motivation – does the work environment encourage you?
  6. Structural ability – is the framework in place to support the right behaviour?

If you can put all of the above in place then your influence as a credit manager both internally and externally will prove to be a highly useful asset. Without these you might find that it is difficult to shape the business.

As with everything, preparation is critical. If you are fully prepared for every eventuality you will be able to adapt well if things aren’t going to plan, whether that’s during external or internal negotiations.