The reasons why creditors hire collection agencies are evolving in dramatic and unprecedented ways due to changes in technology, a massive onslaught from collection salespeople on mid- to large-volume buyers and an overwhelming dissatisfaction with the traditional collection sales approach.
Historically, collection agencies have used a feature- and seller-based approach to sales—detailing all the bells and whistles of the collection agency but failing to understand the buyer’s mindset, goals and unique challenges, writes Marc Trezza, president of Search Net Corporation, in the January issue of Collector magazine.
Today, however, agencies that experience exponential growth and a high level of satisfaction with sales have adopted a buyer-based, consultative selling approach. In essence, these sellers help redefine the buyer’s thinking and reality, according to Trezza. When they do, they increase the impact their agency has on the buyer’s success and differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.
The collection sales approach has changed more in the last few years than it has in the previous 40 years. Essentially, in this market collection agencies must evolve or perish. The question is how?
Here’s a glimpse at where the future of collection sales is headed, and how you can get there. Read Trezza’s full report, as well as an overview of collection sales training and how the sales landscape has changed, in the January Collector.
Retool Your Method
One of the sales challenges we face is that many buyers’ minds are closed when they first interact with our salespeople. They might have a long history of being subjected to the same canned sales pitches and meaningless claims, and feel their time is way too precious to waste on another seller-based presentation that really has nothing to do with their business.
Often this is because buyers consistently hire the lowest fee agency and get the level of effort that goes with that. This is not buyers’ fault, necessarily—they simply don’t know how to screen, hire and manage collection agencies.
These salespeople can disrupt buyers’ current thinking by introducing new ideas, challenging the status quo and collaborating on alternative paths. They will reframe the discussion by changing the lens through which the buyer views the issues, and develop solutions with the buyer to implement better possibilities.
A New Body of Knowledge
Insightful sellers are always looking for new opportunities and applications for their agency’s capabilities.
To build these skills, you’ll need to implement a high level of professional collection sales training that broadens your salespeople’s knowledge and encourages them to take a new approach.
For instance, there is a body of knowledge that every collection salesperson must know in order to be considered a professional. Without command of this key knowledge, salespeople cannot inspire buyers with their agency’s unique value proposition. This intimate knowledge of their own agency’s capabilities and applications, coupled with a deep understanding of the buyer’s current and future needs, can help salespeople create specific solutions for the buyer in thoughtful, innovative ways.
And when salespeople bring valuable insights and true empathy to the table, they strengthen relationships, differentiate themselves from the competition and win more sales. Not unlike the transition from a manual collection process to a state-of-the-art collection management system, the process of transforming your agency’s sales approach requires a total commitment, patience and a meaningful investment.
Creditors want you to specialize in their type of accounts, agencies want software that is collection industry-specific, and buyers want to talk to people who clearly understand their business.
As Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
The future will belong to the collection agencies that recognize that the sales landscape has changed, and who are open to changing with it and investing in it. They will jump on board the train and ride it to more profitable client relationships, while ensuring the sustainable growth that will protect their agency’s future.
The complete digital editions of Collector magazine are available through ACA International’s website. ACA International will publish weekly excerpts from Collector articles, when available; check your inbox for the excerpts in ACA Daily on Wednesdays.
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