Are collection calls challenging for you?
Making collection calls is unlikely to be the highlight of anybody’s day. In some cases, it takes people out of their comfort zone, and they will rely more on sending emails instead of picking up the telephone.
What does it take to be successful at collecting money by telephone?
Here are some ‘Golden Rules’ to follow.
PLANNING – PROPER PRIOR PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE
Your customers will generally fall into one of five categories. By looking at history (how previous transactions with them have gone, how long it has taken them to pay and why) you will have an idea into which category they are likely to fall:
- Bad Management
- Dispute Feel Cheated
- Deliberate Policy
- Trigger Payers
- Fraudsters (difficult to know)
Look at the facts you need to know about the amount outstanding, together with any notes from conversations. Can you negotiate to get them to pay in full now or will you need to consider a payment plan!?
It’s important you keep notes others can understand. These are vital to following up effectively. The agreed outcome or task to follow up on with customers should be logged.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
- How long have they been a customer?
- Who you are calling (Legal status and the right person)?
- Have any queries been dealt with?
- Are invoices correct?
- How much do you want?
- How much will you settle for?
- Payment trends
- Complaint history
- Collection letters/emails (Do they work for you?)
- Credit rating (Grade your customers)
- Other contacts (Your salesperson – their buyer – who can make payment happen in their company?)
- Progress (are you making progress with the customer? – Orders, growth, payments)
Your mental state will have a strong impact on how you deal with a customer and how they respond to you. Dial with a ‘SMILE’ don’t phone with a groan.
Positive people have a “can do” approach to every situation. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you are right. All successful people truly believe in themselves and in the reality of their goals.
A positive attitude is contagious and when it is sincere, the people with whom you come in contact will relate to you and your collection activities with a vitality and positive attitude that causes a winning, successful business relationship.
CONTROL THE CALL
If you are going to be successful, you will have to manage the call in a way that puts you in control of the customer’s response:
- Use their name – This shows respect on your part and commands attention. Full name identity makes it easier for you to get through and speak to someone.
- Create a mood of cooperation. In other words, appear to agree in order to change. For instance, if they give the reason for non-payment being cash flow issues due to Covid, say, “I can appreciate the difficulties that must be causing you” or “I can certainly see how difficult things are for you right now”. Follow up with “How do you propose to pay please?”
- Listen carefully and take notes. You will get clues on whether they are serious about paying. You will also have ammunition for your follow up call and will be ready to counter any excuse they have tried before.
- Ask questions – If someone is asking questions of you, who is in control of the call? Ask the right questions after your opening statement:
- “Is there any reason why it hasn’t been paid”
- “Will it be paid today please”
- “Who is it with for authorisation”
- “How much can you pay right now please”
- “How do you propose to pay the balance”
- “Who is the most senior person available for me to speak with right now”
- Stay focussed – Some customers will try to put you off by complaining, using anger as a ploy to upset you so you end the conversation. Be polite, validate their opinion, but always bring them back to the point of your call, payment of the money due to your company.
- Use silence – Especially when you have a screaming or abusive debtor. Stay calm, let them blow off steam then remind them, you cannot help to resolve the situation while they are yelling. If it doesn’t work, say something like, “Could you just hold a moment?” Put the telephone down for a few seconds, picking it up again saying “I’m back”. A few seconds of silence will often calm the angry person down.
You can’t win them all and there is no magic wand. Every customer is different what works well with one may not get you anywhere with another. Carefully listen and you will pick up clues on how to deal with each situation.
Ideally, payment in full today! If this is not possible, get some commitment from the customer to pay soon or do something.
KEEP UP TO DATE
It’s important you keep up to date with:
- The Legal System
- Insolvency Legislation
- Cash Collection Techniques
Would you like to know more about these techniques?
Register to our Powerful Cash Collection Techniques training London, 14th September 2022
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details or call +44 (0) 7881 805615