Negotiating is not a brute force task; it is one that requires patience, knowledge, and understanding. This is even more important when it comes to collections. Here are some helpful hints to remember during your next negotiation.
Listen to what your customer has to say
It is easy to get so caught up in our own pitches that we forget to listen to what our customer is saying. In many cases you may not agree with what they are saying or it may not be possible to accommodate what they are asking for, but that is not the point. The point is to make them feel heard and respected, regardless of what they are asking for.
Do your homework
Make sure you always know everything that you can before picking up the phone or going into the meeting. What were the agreed upon payment terms? Was their a dispute filed and if so, when? This does not mean you should spend your nights cramming numbers into your brain, but being prepared to answer questions and understanding the topic mater thoroughly can help your company present a professional front.
Understand your customers perspective
If you are trying to collect debt from a customer, it is important to understand the situation they may be in. They could have ten other companies calling them to collect on debt. Even though you may be under pressure to try to collect on that debt, keep in mind they are probably in a worse situation than you. This means that their confident front is just that, a front. The key to negotiating is understanding the position your customer is in and creating a strategy around that.
If your customer claims that business will pick up, ask for proof of why they think this. If they say that their store recently flooded and thats why they are late on payment, make sure they are telling the truth. Do not let your customer make excuse after excuse without asking for proof.
Always start high
You should almost always start with the expectation that the debt will be paid in full. As we all know this is easier said than done, but this allows you to seem reasonable when you offer 25% off. Just like you, your customer is trying to get the best deal possible, so allow them to feel like they are getting the best possible offer.
Do not take anything personal
Though is should be avoided, negotiating can sometimes take a darker turn. Tempers may flare, words may be said, and egos can be hurt. It is important though to not take any of this personal. Focus on your job and do not get offended by what a customer may say.
Negotiating tactics may change depending on the situation, but these simple guidelines should give you a good basis to start from. Do you follow any negotiating guidelines?