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Oct 01 2018
Something You Haven't Considered
Tyler Steenblik, CCE, Young Electric Sign Company

How did your last experience trying to hire a great collector work out?

What are the characteristics of that unique person that will change the world and drive those AR $'s down and down again? Maybe you were looking for a person with great speaking skills, who is good on the computer and able to hold your customers accountable to the payment commitment they made to your company at the time of the sale. Maybe you were looking for a friendly, non-abrasive person. Maybe you were looking for a "get the money-now" person.

Here is something you may not have thought about. How about crossing the sales line when you hire your next collector? How about hiring a sales person to do your collecting?

During a hiring situation 18 months ago, a sales woman applied for the collection job. I was skeptical that she wouldn't like the work well enough to stay for more than a few months. I also worried about her going stir-crazy by being cooped up in the office. Through the few interviews I had with her, she SOLD ME into hiring her, and I am glad she did! She sold me on the idea that collection work is really nothing more than selling the idea that the customer should pay.

Through the next several months I heard her on the phone talking with customers in ways that I had never heard before in the collection department. She had a perspective that was foreign to my collection experience. She was actually closing the sale as the customer agreed to pay what was owed. It was quite remarkable to watch.

Looking back over the last 18 months, I have identified some characteristics generally part of a sales persons make-up, which are beneficial in the collections realm. I realize that some of these talents and skills may be generalities or stereotypes.

Sales people often have a different type of communication style. By nature (inherent skill) and nurture (sales training) they have learned how to listen on a different level to those they are attempting to sell. They speak in words and terms which are understandable to business people, as opposed to the "office speak" or accounting language which credit/collection people often use. They are persuasive and don't take "no" for an answer. They can see through and overcome objections in conversational style. They can close the deal which is selling the idea that the payment needs to be made.

Sales people are generally goal driven. They want to win! For many, the excitement of the chase and the thrill of the take down is the thing that drives them. They can use concepts and adapt their tactics on a dime. Chasing the collection is somewhat the same work. Collectors coming from the sales field can chase to their hearts content while not being under the same ever-present pressure to sell-sell-sell. While the drive to produce is still needed, it is certainly not the same as starting over with $0.00 sales result every first of the month!

As far as personality goes, sales people are generally friendly...at least when they need to be. They have skills at mirroring the customer to be a partner rather than being on the opposite side of a win/lose conversation.

There are some challenges with collection work which can be problematic for a sales person. Sales work has no up-side limit. Collections work on the other hand is typically salary driven and often isn't easily incentivized. One way to overcome this is to remember that most office type jobs don't work nights, weekends, and most holidays as many sales people are required to work. This can be a great trade off.

Another challenge is that many sales people are always out on the next appointment. When they get back in the office they often turn the sales information over to an admin person to enter the data and do the computer work. Therefore, many sales people have a steeper learning curve on collection computer software due to not being as practiced on a computers as other office people may be.

Given the advantages and disadvantages of crossing the line between the two often opposing sides of business, the Ying and the Yang, you should be under no fantasies of finding the world's best collector from the sales field. However, you shouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand. There may quite possibly be a win/win in hiring your next collection closer.