After a 20-day sales cycle, you have finally convinced this opportunity that they have to buy your product. You’ve agreed on the financial costs, negotiated the terms of the contract and put pen to paper. Congratulations! You’ve just booked a great deal, and now your company’s work is done…
Or is it?
Not so fast. Bookings are great, but they don’t necessarily produce cash-flow – the lifeblood of any organization. What does provide cash-flow are invoices – commercial documents that have itemized lists of goods and services, along with the cost of each. In other words, bills. Bills that must be paid by your new customer, and collected by you. Only when that cash has been collected can the deal really be considered done.
So, as a CEO, CFO or COO, you have to ask yourself – do our financials match our sales?
The Journey from Sale Completed to Cash Collected
The reason that question is so important to ask is because the bookings figure often does not match the financials figure. Such discrepancies can be a major issue for managing cash flow, reconciling budgets and generally having an accurate finger on the pulse of your organization.
Oftentimes, these discrepancies occur because of the journey from sale to cash-in-hand – a lot can happen in that time.
After the sale has been completed, there is often a degree of implementation work that must be done. Implementation could include onboarding, software installs and training before the product is truly up-and-running for the new customer. Typically, invoices are only sent to the customer upon full implementation.
Once the invoice has been sent, things should be smooth sailing, right? Not quite. Sometimes, customers don’t pay their invoices on time, or short of the full amount. These type of trouble customers can throw a real monkey wrench into your financials.
Other times, customers might be unhappy with the product, believing that they have bought something different (worse) than what they were promised. Or, there might be a problem with the implementation process. They might refuse to pay their invoices until you fix or change something in their use of your product, delaying cash collection indefinitely.
Has ALL the Work been done?
Revenue is generated only when all the work has been done, and is generally listed by the invoice date and amount. This is different than bookings, which takes the value of the deal once it is sold (contract signed) and when the deal was created. To that end, the bookings figure is not necessarily the most accurate one. The invoice figure is reported at a later stage, but is also a truer representation.
Fortunately, sometimes “all the work done” can lead to positive discrepancies between sales and financials too – it’s not all doom-and-gloom, like we outlined above. For instance, the upsell might occur between the completed sale and the invoice. During the implementation, the customer might fall even more in love with your product and want more of it. Bigger companies might have other product line offerings that entices the customer after the sale.
When this occurs, the actual invoiced amount will be higher than the initial reported bookings amount – and that’s a good thing! However, the difference in the two figures is still a problem that needs full visibility for proper reconciliation. To do that, CEOs and CFOs need to turn to Quickbooks Analytics.
Look at the above Sold vs. Actuals Quickbooks Analytics report. In Salesforce, you can see your bookings figure. In Quickbooks, you can see your invoiced figure. However, you can’t combine the two into one clear-cut visual – except with this report. A CEO looking at this can quickly discern at which months over the past year their actual revenue exceeded or fell short of the gross project revenue (or bookings) figure. They can then dive deeper to figure out why – is this a result of an upsell? An unhappy customer? An overdue payment?
Having maximum clarity at all levels of your business is critical, perhaps none more so than with your cash flow management. Matching your bookings figures to your invoiced figures is a great way to crystallize that accurate information and help you manage your business. So ask yourself:
Do your sales match your financials?