Updated: Jul 27, 2020
I’m going to give you the bottom line up front. Your collectors are probably leaving a lot of money on the table because they are using 40-year-old strategies, and COVID has accelerated the need for change.
The myth from the old guard is the belief that hard-core tactics win the game. What I mean by that is whoever is the loudest and most aggressive wins. Basically, it's a mindset that for me to win, someone else has to lose.
When I was a kid, my favorite game was Monopoly, and there was only one way to win. We all may have had different strategies, such as investing in the railroads, how we made trades, or buying up the high-rent or low-rent districts. Regardless of the strategy, the reality is there is only one way to win; you had to bankrupt all your friends.
In today’s world, this old concept will do nothing but create conflict and get everyone involved feeling triggered and exhausted. Basically, it’s a recipe for disaster. I might as well file the lawsuit myself or pick up the phone to the client and complain about your collector. If you’ve ever listened to a talk off that sent a wave of "ick" through your skin, then instinctually you know what I’m saying is spot on.
You and I both know it’s time for a change, and many agency execs and managers know that COVID has created a window of opportunity for a paradigm shift.
The struggle is, where do we start? I wholeheartedly believe if we knew better, we would do better, and if you stick with me, I promise to get you there quickly and easily.
The biggest secret in collections is for consumers to see you as an ally they want to align with instead of an enemy they want to attack.
Let’s talk about the 3 pivots that need to happen to be seen as an ally rather than an enemy.
Pivot 1: Great negotiation is about great collaboration
We as collection professionals need to understand that the consumer is not our mortal enemy.
What if I told you that the consumer, the collector, the collection manager, and even the creditor and the legislators are all players on the same team trying to solve the same problem? The DEBT.
Think about it, the consumer just wants to feel more control over their day-to-day and month-to-month finances, while...
The collector just wants to get the debt paid in full without the drama
The creditor just wants to be paid for their services rendered
The collection manager just wants to keep clients and collectors happy
The legislator doesn’t want to drown in a swamp of never-ending complaints from consumers and feel the daily pressure to do something to fix it.
The enemy is not the other person; the enemy is the situation or the debt itself.
Pivot 2: Understanding that trust and connection win the game
The art and science of becoming a master collector is to first and foremost leverage the power of empathy. Empathy begins with an awareness of the consumers’ feelings.
In the first milestone of the Collection Advantage Online Course, I boil down the essential elements of human emotions; this is vital to the collection industry because neuroscience is now able to map out and measure what is happening in the human brain when people are triggered.
Having a debt is the trigger; talking about the debt is uncomfortable and generally makes the consumer feel cornered, angry and afraid.
The pivot is in understanding that the #1 human need is to feel heard and understood.
Pivot 3: Do the opposite of what the consumer expects
Let me break this down. The consumer is automatically expecting a terrible experience for two main reasons:
Our bodies are like libraries storing all of our past experiences. If the consumer had a bad experience in the past with a collector or he saw his parents struggle and suffer over debt, when he receives a call from a collector, he begins to tense up and stress chemicals are instantly created in his brain and body. This makes reaching an agreement almost impossible because people cannot be in fight-or-flight mode and problem-solving mode at the same time.
The negative stigma and bad reputation attached to the collection industry means that the consumer is expecting the collector to behave aggressively. The result is the same as above, and the consumer's body will flood with cortisol, adrenaline, and testosterone to gear up for the fight. And it’s true that often times a talk off feels like two people in a boxing ring.
When I train collectors to do the opposite of what the consumer is expecting with my easy-to-learn, 3-step Communication Code, the result is what life and business strategist Tony Robbins describes as a “state change.” This means the consumer instantly begins to feel better as their body begins to flood with happy hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine.
This is the secret to moving the call forward.
Think about it like this: Consumers expect abrasive, rude behavior from the collector, and instead they are met with kindness and validation of how they feel.
The way to stay alive in this industry is to know how to disarm the negative emotions the consumer is experiencing.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and trust me, I understand if this topic feels impossible because it requires a paradigm shift. The great news is, I’ve got you covered.
I will be revealing more about how to make these pivots in future blogs and webinars.
The bottom line is the way we have been taught to communicate is actually the opposite of what will work. When your collectors know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, they will get through calls faster and better and make more money.