How do you place an effective debt collection call?

Debt collection calls can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but they’re a necessary part of doing business. If you’re dealing with a debtor that won’t pay, there are a few important things to remember before you make that call.

1. Stay calm

Receiving collection calls isn’t any more fun than making them. The debtor is likely to get emotional, defensive or angry. Remember to stay calm, professional and proactive. You want what is owed to you, but it’s almost important not to burn bridges. If you show the debtor you’re open to negotiation, you’re much more likely to get what you want, and maybe even save the relationship.

2. Be prepared before placing a debt collection call

Collect your paperwork. Include invoices, promises of payment and any relevant emails. The debtor will probably try to make excuses, so it’s important to have your facts straight. If you can, reference:

  • Terms of the original agreement
  • Exact amount due
  • Any other outstanding invoices
  • Dates on the invoices
  • What goods or services were delivered

This step can serve two purposes. First, seeing everything laid out can help you stay calm. You have made an agreement and, logically, it should be honored. Second, you will be able to address excuses with facts, not feelings. There may be a number of good reasons for lack of payment but remember that you made an agreement. Keep returning to your prepared information.

3. Ask open questions

Asking yes or no questions can shut down conversation. You may not agree with your debtor, but you need more information. Also, wait a moment before you respond to any answers they give. This can help you stay calm and professional and give them more space to talk. When are they planning to pay? Are they planning to pay at all? The more they talk the more information you’ll have when the time comes to negotiate.

4. Make clear agreements

After speaking to your debtor, it may become clear that your original terms aren’t possible anymore. Don’t give up. Negotiation is always an option and there’s a chance you can still get paid. Talk it out. See if you can get them to make clear agreements on payment and terms. Best case scenario: you get paid and salvage a business relationship.

5. Get it in writing

While you’re talking, take notes. Write down any new information you get from your debtor as well as any agreements you and the debtor come to. Afterwards, make a short summary and mail this to your debtor. Include a reply request. See if you can get the debtor to confirm these agreements over email. If the debtor still won’t pay, these emails can be used to strengthen your position.

6. Don’t give up

This is most important! If the calls don’t work, you still have options. Our team of expert lawyers can help and ensure you get paid.