Updated: May 20, 2021
The other day I was sitting in on a sales meeting with a prospective client – a small hospital – and I asked them if they had any roadblocks or concerns when it came to working with a collection agency.
They told me they recently had to fire two collection agencies.
One of the agencies they fired because their recoveries were too low – on a positive note, the hospital wasn’t getting any complaints from patients about this agency, but the recoveries were just not there.
With the other agency, it was the opposite challenge. Their recoveries were very high and so were the number of complaints coming in from patients about this agency. The high recoveries but low patient satisfaction wasn’t worth it in the end, this hospital felt. And as seen with the other agency, keeping patients happy and limiting complaints is important, but it can’t be at the cost of recoveries.
I’m telling you this story because…
As collection agency leaders, we need to acknowledge we are in a very different environment than we were before. Just as the pandemic has affected our industry, it has changed our clients’ industries as well. It’s likely that your clients and prospects will have some different needs and expectations as a result of the pandemic and are facing different obstacles than they were before.
I believe that one of the most important things you can do as a leader of a collection agency right now is show your clients and prospects that you understand this and are committed to helping them through this time of change. As we enter a “new normal,” establishing this level of credibility is essential.
Here are what I believe are the three keys to establishing a new level of credibility with your clients and prospects over the next several months:
1) Establishing safety and security
We all know that collection agencies’ actions can reflect back on the client, and no one wants to be called out for bad behavior.
As my team and I heard on the recent sales call with the hospital client prospect, one of the needs for the hospital was finding a collection agency that could balance being empathetic with consumers and still collect the money.
Moving forward, I believe the way collectors communicate with consumers is going to be one of the biggest factors influencing whether a company decides to partner with a particular agency.
Companies’ priorities will be on finding agencies that will not expose them to bad PR or other risks. If they believe your services are going to negatively impact them in any way, they are not going to want to work with you.
As your team heads into sales calls over the next few months, think about ways your agency’s services mitigate risk for your clients and make sure you communicate that.
As an example, one of the things my agency did at the beginning of the pandemic was to reach out to our current clients to let them know what our strategies were around our collectors’ communication with consumers. We made it a priority to communicate with our clients early and often – even sharing specific scripting we were going to use to ease any PR concerns they may have had.
When it comes down to it, the agencies that stand out over the next 24 months will be those that have been able to demonstrate to their clients and prospects that they fully understand the impact of COVID and are putting strategies in place that are going to keep their clients’ safe from risk.
2) Managing a highly competitive market
After you’ve thought about what your solutions are to solve your clients’ newest challenges and protect them from risk, establish those as your unique value proposition.
The collection industry has always been a competitive landscape, and I believe COVID-19 has created an opportunity for agencies to stand out with unique solutions and market those as part of their brand.
For instance, my agency’s motto is to make people feel good about paying off their debts. Rather than play on consumers’ fears, we use empathy and compassion to collect more for our clients. Clients that are looking for that level of sensitivity with consumers during these challenging times will see us a great fit because my agency’s strategy meets their specific needs.
Here’s another example: The pandemic put technology in the spotlight. Are you an agency that invests in technology to give consumers a different experience? Highlight that in your client conversations. Other companies that are looking for a tech solution will gravitate towards you.
To help you better determine your agency’s unique value proposition, you can also ask yourself: What am I investing in that is going to benefit my clients?
Bottom line: Turn your unique strategy into a niche so that you begin to attract clients organically who are looking for that special solution.
3) Establishing a clear ROI
Get familiar with the concept of functional sales. What I mean by that is decision-makers are interested in investing in what solves their current and urgent pains.
What that means for you as an agency leader is you need to get crystal clear on all the key benefits of your service.
To help you along, some questions you can ask yourself are…
How much money will my service save them?
How much money will it make them?
Keep in mind, though, that establishing a clear ROI is more than just looking at the dollars and cents involved. Think about how your solution is going to solve dynamic internal issues for your client.
Some of the biggest internal issues clients frequently cite are:
How much time will this service save my team?
And how much headache and frustration will this save my company?
Also, I strongly believe that living up to your brand promise is going to be more important than ever as we navigate a new normal.
The concept of marketing is really all about getting your prospects to know you, like you, and trust you, so make sure you establish what your values are and ensure your services deliver on those values. Marketing is more than just pretty words. It’s crucial that you back up your brand promise by delivering on what you say you do.
Now is a great time to check in and evaluate whether your services really measure up to what you say they do and whether you can prove that measurably.
We are in a time of great change, and historically, a time of change creates a massive amount of opportunity.
Whether you’re the owner of a brand new agency or you’ve been in business for decades, establishing your organization as one that will help solve clients’ problems in this new environment is necessary to survive and thrive.
Moreover, to become a standout leader and ease the fears of your clients, prospects, and teams as we all forge ahead, I believe it’s vital and powerful to get ahead of the curve as much as possible and think proactively about the dynamic challenges your clients might eventually be facing. Often those who are the first to capitalize on new and modern methods to solve the strategic needs of the time will become the rock star movers and shakers.
If you want to learn how to create a training strategy that will win new clients and develop high-converting collectors at the same time, book a call with me today.