• Mary Shores

The Consumer Keeps Saying 'No'...Now What?

Updated: Apr 30


collections representative talking in a suit talking on a cell phone and looking out a window

When I’m training collectors, I hear several frequently asked questions. One of those questions is the following:


“What do you say when the consumer keeps saying ‘no,’ no matter what solutions you offer?”

If you’ve ever experienced this and you weren’t sure what to do, you’re not alone.


Sometimes, you truly have exhausted the solutions you can present with the current knowledge you have about the consumer. And that’s ok! Luckily, you can follow a simple process to figure out what to do next.


For example, let’s say you’re trying to collect a balance of $125. You asked for payment in full multiple times, and you’ve offered a few different payment arrangements. Each time you make an offer, the consumer says “no.” With that being said, they stay on the phone, so you’re not sure if they want to pay or not, and you’re getting anxious because you’re running out of solutions.


I wholeheartedly believe the solution lies in gathering more information about the consumer’s situation.


Let me break down how to do this.


First, ask the consumer a closed-ended question.


If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of asking consumers questions. In fact, I’ve written blogs about asking the right questions at the right time. For example, here’s a blog post about 4 different types of questions collectors can ask consumers.


If the consumer keeps saying “no” to every offer you make, it’s time to determine what the consumer wants to get out of the call by asking a closed-ended question.


Note: A closed-ended question is a question that will require either a yes or no answer.


Let’s revisit the example of the consumer who owes $125 and has already rejected every offer you’ve made. At this point, you feel like you’ve run out of solutions, so you want to determine if the consumer plans to pay or not. You can gather this information by using a closed-ended question to figure out the next steps.


For instance, you may ask the consumer...


“Is this something you intend to take care of?”

At this point, listen for the consumer’s answer to determine next steps.


After asking a closed-ended question, the consumer will either answer "yes" or "no."


If the consumer says "no"…


That’s ok. You may feel defeated. The good news is, now you know the consumer doesn’t want to pay, so you can politely wrap up the call and move onto another. After all, the next consumer might pay, and the sooner you get to that consumer, the better!


If the consumer says "yes"…


This is also great news because it means you’ll likely get a payment by the end of the call, which is always our goal! Now that you know the consumer is interested in paying, it’s time to gather more information. Obviously, the consumer hasn’t accepted any of your solutions so far, so you’ll need to figure out what solution they will accept.


A great way to determine a solution that will work for the consumer is to ask more questions.


If you read the blog post I linked earlier, you’ll learn about 4 types of questions, and one of those is a calibrated question.


A calibrated question is a “how” and “what” question that prompts the longest responses and helps promote goodwill and connection.


Here’s a great calibrated question you could ask the consumer that keeps saying “no” to your solutions and still wants to pay:


“What is the outcome you’re looking for?”

When you ask this question, make sure to listen as the consumer responds. The answer they give will provide valuable information that will guide your solution!


Before I go, I want to leave you with one more piece of advice to handle collection calls where the consumer repeatedly says “no”:


Get comfortable hearing the word “no.”


Chris Voss, the famous hostage negotiator, says that getting “no’s” can actually be more beneficial than getting “yeses” because “no’s” give the person you’re talking to a sense of control, which will help you reach an agreement faster.


The best way to feel comfortable hearing the word “no” is to have scripting prepared beforehand and to practice that scripting often. When you know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, it’s easier to navigate these challenging collection calls.


I truly believe that when you have the right tools, even the most challenging collection calls get a little bit easier to handle.


Do you want to know more about creating high-converting scripting that helps you navigate challenging calls? Book a call with me today!


Also, I’m partnering with Arbeit to present a webinar all about hiring and onboarding effectively in the debt collection industry. Join Candace of Arbeit and me on April 28 at 1 p.m. eastern. Register here today.