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Your Company and Industry Culture? 0Sales Driven vs. Accounting Driven 0How competitive is the industry you are in?
Know Your Customers0 When do they pay?0 What are their requirements?0 Who to contact0 How to contact
The Customer0 Conform your approach to the customer type: 0 Small high risk 0 Startups 0 Bureaucracies - Large company, government 0 Privately held vs. Publicly owned 0 Contractual partners
The Customer0 What do you need to know to facilitate payment: 0 Does customer provide notice of payment? 0 Should you call to check on status before due? 0 If an invoice is missed for payment, how do you best address? 0 What do they need from you to facilitate payment more quickly?
Debtor Types0 Able to pay 0 Honestly overlooked 0 Procrastinator 0 Grievance or dispute0 Actively-avoiding payment 0 Poor budgeter 0 Staller 0 Temporary problem0 High-risk 0 Eventual insolvent 0 Hardship case 0 Credit criminal
Your Communication Style0 When you are collecting from a customer, you represent your company so don’t . . . 0 Use slang or swear 0 Lose your cool 0 Be less then professional 0 Misrepresent your intentions
Your Collection Style0 Reflects your company’s culture0 Be pleasant yet firm.0 Use the nonverbal part of your voice0 Be persistent.0 Be helpful.0 Do what you say you’re going to do.0 Try to resolve the issue with the first contact.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Telephone Collections0 Why?0 When?0 Five phases of a collection call.0 Making the call.0 Handling objections. 0 Why can’t they pay? 0 When will they be able to pay?
Why telephone contact?0 Cost-effective0 Provides you with immediate feedback.0 Letters are being ignored.0 When the customer’s sincerity is in doubt.
When?0 Factors to consider 0 Best time to reach 0 Best place to reach 0 When did you call last
Five Phases of a Collection Call0 Preparation0 Identification0 Fact finding0 Agreement0 Follow-up
Precall Preparation0 Validate the amount.0 Evaluate the customer’s payment record.0 Analyze the customer’s collection file.0 Map out a plan of action.
Who to ask for?0 The party who signed the agreement0 The person who pays the bills0 The person who can force payment
Identification of the Parties0 Do you have the right person on the phone?0 Consumer vs. Commercial
Identify Yourself0 Be clear about who you are and who you represent.
Identify the Personality Type – Why? 0 A good collector sells everyday. 0 You need to build relationships. 0 You are the “solution.”
Four Basic Personality Types0 Steady Relater – open/indirect 0 Usually cordial, willing to talk, noncommittal0 Interactive Socializer – open/direct 0 Cordial, willing, but can he get it done?0 Cautious Thinker – self-contained/indirect 0 Quiet and reserved, noncommittal0 Dominant Director – self-contained/direct 0 “Here’s what I’m gonna do for you.”
Fact Finding0 The tactical pause – What do you hope to gain?
Use of Fact-Finding Questions0 Requires the customer to supply specific reasons for late payment.0 Provides collector with clues to potential solutions.0 Ask questions but don’t interrogate.0 No loaded questions.
Examples0 How did this happen?0 What caused you to fall behind?0 What is the specific reason for your payment problems?0 What can we do to help you get back on track?
Listening Let the customer talk. Identify the central problem. Search out solutions. Tune in to the customer. Earn the customer’s respect. Narrow the scope of the problem.
Reacting (cont.)0 Complaints about goods and services 0 Must be taken seriously. 0 Don’t lose control by passing the buck. 0 Investigate, promptly take the necessary action, and report back to the customer.
Reacting (cont.)0 Denials of responsibility 0 Must be treated with same courtesy as customers who complain.0 Explanation of late payment or “the dog ate my homework.”
Challenges to Creditor’s Authority0 They admit they owe, but challenge you to collect it.0 They will attempt to distract or upset you.
What If They Don’t Want to Pay?0 “Our policy is to put past-due accounts on credit hold [and . . .].”0 “This may impact your future shipment schedule.”0 “Customer delinquency is reported to the major credit bureaus.”0 “Unless we can resolve this, we may have to use other collection methods.”0 Contact your sales rep.0 Escalate the claim as necessary.
Asking for Payment in Full0 Present with confidence.0 Presume an affirmative response.0 Must be specific as to when.0 Should identify the desired form of payment.
Reaching an Agreement0 Negotiating a payment plan. 0 Take control - ask for as much as you can as quickly as you can get it. 0 Sell the benefits of the plan. 0 Compromise when necessary. 0 Obtain specific commitments. 0 Always require a promissory note. 0 Payment plan and continuing shipments
Reaching an Agreement (cont.)0 Overcoming objections. 0 Separate the sincere from the insincere. 0 What is the customer objecting to? 0 Listen to what the customer is telling you. 0 Break the proposal into smaller, more manageable pieces. 0 Obtain agreement on undisputed points. 0 Return to disputed points and negotiate solutions.
Reaching an Agreement (cont.)0 Overcoming Objections 0 Look for answers – Double-check your records and make sure you know/have the facts. 0 Get to the problem as quickly as possible. 0 Take appropriate action.
Reaching an Agreement0 Payment promises: 0 Be specific. 0 Repeat back the arrangement. 0 Ask for an immediate good faith payment.
Finalizing the Agreement0 Summarize the terms of the agreement.0 Confirm in writing.0 If appropriate, get a promissory note.0 Mark your file for follow-up.0 Update your records.0 Keep Sales Department informed.
Following Up0 Training the customer to keep the agreement.0 Follow-up progressively.
Tips0 Be willing to say no to any unacceptable arrangement.0 Always throw the burden back on the debtor.0 Never lose your cool.0 If the debtor is cooperative and makes reasonable offers, you also need to cooperate.
Tips (cont.)0 If the debtor is not reasonable, say what you’ll do and do it.0 Your job is to have a policy and a point of view, not a snappy comeback. 0 Essentially your point of view is, 0 “You received the good or service, and you haven’t paid for it.” 0 “Let’s figure out how to get over this hurdle and move forward in our relationship.”
Summary0 Company Culture Must Be Considered.0 Resources0 Flexibility0 Effectiveness0 Know Your Customers0 Listen, Listen, Listen!0 Never lose your temper.0 Maintain control of the conversation.0 Always keep your word.