by Jim Finucan ©Tiare Publications
Believe it or not the success or failure of your attempt to collect a debt is usually decided right at the beginning of your phone call – with the very first thing you say after the other party says hello. Knowing exactly what you’re going to say, and handling the call in an organized, professional manner is the foundation upon which collections are made or lost. There are four parts to a professionally executed collections call:
Part One: The Open How you identify yourself, your company and the problem. And how you place that problem before the debtor. Don’t ask him when he’s going to get around to paying you or why he’s putting you off. Otherwise you’ve made your move too soon and you’ll be at a disadvantage right off the bat. Instead, put the debtor in the position of having to explain himself. Say something like “What are your intentions toward this bill?”
Part Two: The Facts – If the debtor doesn’t agree to pay the bill early on, move into the next part of the call: asking questions about his situation. It’s important to make a smooth transition here because you don’t want to alarm the debtor. Say something like “Let me just fill out an extension form for you.” Then you can start asking about his job, whether his wife is employed, any outstanding loans he may have, credit cards, etc.
Part Three: The Dun – Once your questioning has given you the information you need you can show the debtor a way in which he or she can pay the debt. You know, for instance, that he can afford to put it on his MasterCard, or that she could qualify for a bank loan. Now you’re in position to make your demand for payment (the dun).
Part Four: The Close – Whether or not the debtor has agreed to pay there is also a specific way you should end the call. And I don’t mean, “Gee, thanks, have a nice day!” or “You’ve got your nerve!” Use an open-ended question designed to put the debtor on the spot; something like “Do I have your word on that?” If he has refused to pay or continues to dodge and delay remind him of how serious the situation is; make it clear that the problem must still be resolved. Be professional; don’t insult him. Save any threats of legal action until you’ve contacted the debtor several times without success and see no other option. Never threaten legal action unless you fully intend to follow through, otherwise you can be accused of harassment.
Collection calls are a necessity in bill collecting. Making the effort to learn and use as many techniques as you can will bring results and increase t he bank balance of your business.