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How to recruit, train and retain expert collection negotiators

Collection success depends on building an expert and effective team of negotiators. For the best results, start by hiring the right people and support this with on-going training and support.

Young white male manager with clip board in hand, training in other staff member in front of computers

Focus on intelligent recruitment

The caliber of employees that you hire will directly impact your collections rate so it’s worth taking time to find the right people.

Identify candidates with strong interpersonal skills, innate empathy, and natural drive. Look for dominant personalities who are driven to overcome any challenges as they are more likely to succeed when faced with contentious callers. The ideal candidate will also display empathy and an aptitude for negotiation – both of which can be identified through profiling during recruitment.

Keep an open mind when looking to hire as this people-facing role requires emotional intelligence over qualifications. Your ideal negotiator may not have an academic background, but they will show potential for growth in the key areas required for collections success.

Hire wisely and back this up with a commitment to sustained, on-going training for the optimum return on your investment in staff.

Develop foundation skills

For recent recruits, foundation training makes a huge difference. It can help employees develop new skills and support them as they seek to strike the right balance between collections success and customer relations.

During basic training, have recruits focus on learning scripts and memorizing scenarios for the most common situations and disputes. Assign a mentor to role-play different eventualities and provide in-situ support as recruits build their confidence and skills.

Once a new team member can handle 90+ calls a day they are ready to develop deeper negotiation skills. Aim to provide insight into the psychology of collections, the various stages of negotiation, and the art of active listening. Ask candidates to come up with their own strategies to convince debtors and engineer a win-win outcome.

Complement real-time skills development with in-depth research and study around the topic of negotiation. Encourage recruits to present what they have learnt in their reading and help them translate this into practice during calls.

With this groundwork in place, employees will be ready to resolve more complex disputes with clients. By actively nurturing recruits from day one, every one of your collections team has the potential to become a Senior Negotiator.

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Commit to continuous training

On average, every negotiator should complete at least 150 hours of training each year, be that working with a mentor, studying, or attending industry events.

Even experienced negotiators will benefit from taking time to improve their technique. Encourage staff to focus on coming up with alternatives during training so they can reliably reach a fair deal for both parties when negotiations have stalled.

To help your collections team improve consistency in engineering win-win outcomes. consider using advanced training practices.

Have negotiators listen to an audio recording of their call to understand how their tone of voice and volume come across. This can help with fluency and clarity.

We also ask our negotiators to concentrate on their body language while they are communicating over the phone.  This keeps your team sharp and allows them to pick up on verbal cues that will paint a picture for what is going on behind the spoken words.

For more ideas on recruiting, training and motivating a skilled negotiation team, download our free guide to Mastering the Art of Collections, or give us a call and speak to one of our experts today.

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