Everyone knows Batman.
Created in 1939 Batman is one of the oldest cartoon characters, star of several successful film franchises and an enduring global icon.
A name you’re probably less familiar with is that of Bill Finger. Along with artist Bob Kane, Bill was the co-creator of Batman and by all accounts the main creative force. However, it seems Bob Kane was better at PR and negotiated a deal for himself whereby he would be credited as the sole creator of Batman.
As a result Bill got side-lined. He died in 1974, shortly before his 60th birthday, alone and poor, with no obituary, no funeral, and no gravestone to mark his passing. For the best part of 75 years no one really knew about Bill’s contribution to the Batman story. Even today few outside of die-hard comic aficionados would recognise his name. Bill Finger is an unsung hero of the comic world.
As an allegory for the credit profession it wouldn’t take the ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ to draw the parallels.
I attend many credit forums, association meetings and network events and its evident credit and collection teams don’t feel they get the wider business recognition they deserve. It doesn’t necessarily flow that competent Credit Managers become Credit Directors; a fact I know the Association of International Credit Directors is vocally keen to address. Commercial imperatives often override risk advice and risk appetite is increased in order to drive sales.
As a professional salesman I genuinely believe in the old adage ‘it’s not sold until it’s paid for.’ Any of my colleagues that have their commission tied to payment would readily agree. At a very basic level sales without payment is not selling; it’s just giving stuff away.
Everyone agrees that cash flow is business critical and vital for a healthy business to run smoothly. Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is king. There’s an old maxim that no business ever collapsed because of lack of profitability but many have gone under because they lacked cash. Having cash allows a business to operate.
Collection performance is so important to a business, it’s analysed and scrutinised using metrics such as Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) or the Collection Effectiveness Index (CEI).
Why then are the people engaged in the process of getting the cash in often not given rightful credit (if you’ll excuse the pun)?
Like Bill Finger it could just be a question of PR. Its conceivable credit teams are unsung heroes because other teams are voraciously broadcasting their hero status to anyone (and everyone) who will listen. Sales teams are seldom backwards in coming forward and that’s what credit teams often need to be heard above.
Recently we surveyed our client base to find out what they liked most about our service. One surprising, yet appropriate response was that it had elevated a client’s status and visibility within his organisation. There’s maybe a lesson in that we can all borrow from; good PR can come from sponsoring good business initiatives. In that respect Netsend was like his sidekick.
The term ‘sidekick’ is thought to originate from pickpocket slang of the late 19th century. As Bill Finger sounds like the sort of name Dickens would use for a pickpocket, it’s fitting Bill helped create one of the most famous sidekicks of all time.
Robin, the Boy Wonder, was introduced in April 1940. He garnered overwhelmingly positive critical reception, doubling the sales of the Batman related comic books.
Sidekicks, like suppliers, are trusted partners and can bring out the best in a hero.