Updated: Jul 24, 2020
I’ve talked to many agency owners and managers who tell me how much time they spend putting out fires.
Some point out that their collectors struggle with controlling their emotions, others struggle with consistency (like if a consumer calls their agency with the same question three different times, they get three different answers), and sometimes agency owners chalk it up to a motivation issue.
When I train collectors, I’m passionate about developing Level 10 collectors – collectors who understand how to put consumers on payment plans they can afford and pay off in the least amount of time.
There is an art and science to collecting money, and if you want Level 10 collectors, it’s critical you invest in their development in these four areas:
Emotional intelligence is non-negotiable, and it’s easier to develop than you think.
Just like in Step 5 in the 8 steps of a collection call, first we need to determine the problem –or why collectors struggle on collection calls.
Your collectors have a major hurdle to overcome right away because the consumer may start off the call afraid and treat your collector as the enemy. Level 10 collectors know how to create connection and avoid conflict.
Some of those conflicts include focusing on consequences, which only make consumers feel attacked. Another example is reciting policy or implying wrongdoing.
Emotional intelligence is all about understanding that fear drives escape and hope drives positive action. This is an important first step to getting consumers on your side.
Level 10 collectors understand that when you make a consumer feel heard and understood, he becomes more receptive to what you’re saying and is more likely to take positive action like getting on a payment arrangement or paying the debt in full.
Bottom line: Level 10 collectors understand consumers' fears rather than playing on them.
Overcoming fear of the freak-out
Another struggle I discovered years ago was that whenever I would train new collectors I would notice how much fear and anxiety they had over asking people for money.
I called this the fear of the freak-out, and if you ever had a new collector leave after the first few days and never return, I am willing to bet he was uncomfortable at the very thought of asking for money.
There are 3 very real fears your collectors are working through while collecting, especially if he or she is new:
Fear of the freak-out – My reps were terrified to ask for money because they were afraid of the emotional outbursts they were going to get from consumers.
Fear of being mean or feeling guilty – The next big fear that always comes up is that asking for money can feel awful, like you are a bad person. The little voice in your head may feel sorry for the person or feel guilty.
Fear of not knowing what to do or what to say – There is nothing worse than not knowing what to say and your voice cracks, or you talk too fast, or you just don’t ask for PIF at all.
Bottom line: Level 10 collectors develop courage through learning communication skills and confidence.
Navigate their negotiations
Once collectors have recovered from their fears of asking for large sums of money and trust that the consumer will end up on the best possible payment arrangement (the “sweet spot”), they will negotiate without fear.
The sweet spot is that Goldilocks zone of the arrangement. It’s not too high, meaning that the consumer just gave a counterfeit “yes” to get you off the phone, and it’s not too low meaning that the account is not going to take forever to pay off.
The right arrangement stretches the consumer just enough to get the account paid the fastest and yet is still affordable.
Trust me. We are not doing the consumer any favors by stretching this out. Actually, ripping a debt off like a Band-Aid is best because then the consumer is not thinking about it anymore and can get some relief.
Bottom line: Level 10 negotiators always start with the highest possible arrangement and in the end find the sweet spot.
Brains over brawn
One of the best investments I ever made in my team was training them on critical thinking skills.
There is no doubt in my mind that collectors are worried every day that an unintentional mistake could lead to expensive consequences. Those fires could be avoided 80% of the time with a simple-to-learn 4-step formula that stabilizes even the most serious situations.
Here it is:
Step 1. Gather all the facts, including the account data, a timeline, and the concerns. Take special note of any accusations being made.
Step 2. Determine the best outcome, which involves a little brainstorming. Each situation will look different depending on whether we are talking about a valid dispute or a disgruntled consumer.
Step 3. Determine the path to the outcome. Here is where it gets fun because once we know the outcome, we can reverse engineer the solution.
Step 4. Plan the call ahead of time. You would be surprised what a huge difference this makes. It allows the collector to stay centered.
Bottom line: Level 10 critical thinkers understand that every decision they make, every word they speak, affect the outcome of a call.
Level 10 Collectors are Level 10 communicators, but they didn’t start out that way. It takes time and effort to strengthen those muscles. Once I realized how much fear was holding my team back, I developed a system to increase their confidence.
Communication training is the secret to increasing your revenue and reducing risk because when collectors know exactly what to say, their fears are removed and their confidence goes through the roof.
To be a Level 10 collector, confidence is essential.
Can you imagine how smoothly and effortlessly your agency would rise to the top if you had a team of Level 10 collectors? Can you imagine how much stress you could kick to the curb?
If you want to know how to create a team of high-converting collectors that increase your revenue immediately, book a call with me today.