Characteristics of Great Debt Collection Negotiators

New and Experienced bill collectors must hone their negotiating skills.

Everyone who is trying to collect money, even if the amount was agreed upon at the time of the sale, seems to be required to negotiate. Most bill collectors, especially new ones, are not as effective at negotiating as they could be. I do know some of the characteristics of a good negotiator and of a good bill collector and wanted to post the things that they have in common.

  • Understanding the negotiation process – highly effective bill collectors recognize that negotiations are a process. It requires an understanding of the billing, credit approval and payment processes.
  • Focusing on a Win-Win situation – Win-win means both parties feel like they have “won” during the collection process. Great bill collectors help their customers or debtors try to solve problems and look for opportunities to make that possible. They also know when to be firm and limit what they do in order to reach an agreement that is acceptable for both parties.
  • Patience – To many bill collectors try to go for the “quick fix” so they can get paid and move on to the next account. Great bill collectors know that patience is a virtue and that rushing the collection process often leads to not getting paid. Great bill collectors take time to gather information BEFORE contacting the debtor or customer, they think carefully about possible solutions and this is critical because major mistakes can be made when you rush, some of them involving breaking the law (FDCPA).
  • Confidence – Great bill collectors are confident when making a collection call or collecting in person, they aren’t arrogant, rude or cocky, they are CONFIDENT. To reach this level of confidence, you must believe in your ability to reach a win-win agreement with the debtor. This confidence is gained through experience, the more debt collections you do, the better you become at it.
  • Listening Skills – People will tell you just about everything you need to know if you ask the right questions or keep quiet long enough for them to continue speaking. The biggest mistake a bill collector can make is not listening, or bigger yet, interrupting a debtor when that might mean if they had just listened longer, they may receive key information that will assist them in their collection efforts.

Being a bill collector is a skill that takes time, effort and energy. To collect more money you need to work at it, invest the time learning the dynamics and science of negotiating and being firm.

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2 Responses to Characteristics of Great Debt Collection Negotiators

  1. Jeff Daniels says:

    This is so true… I have been a top collector for a long time. Alot of people take a forceful approach to this occupation… it works for some but more often than not they hang up. The chances of the debtor picking up the phone again after being both verbally bashed in the ears and insulted are slim to none. Collections is a finese game and that doesn’t mean you have to be a social worker it just means you have to sell… it is the difference between being a 1-2% average collector or a 6-10% collector making steady commisions rather than waiting for a big laydown to fall in your lap. Not to mention abusive collectors lack skill and cost their agencies clients and money. The number one thing anyone can do for their career is to ask to be located next to experienced collectors, and after the experience by osmosis has taken place move next to another soon you will have a fully loaded arsenal that would have taken you years to learn if ever, Your director of operations will love this approach… trust me!

  2. Great tip Jeff! Thanks for sharing – MD

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