Collector - October 2017 - 39
be improved. The sales process I teach
my clients sells confidence and trust, not
features, and is based on truly listening and
then working with the prospect to develop
outstanding solutions according to the client.
Sometimes clients don't complain if they
are unhappy with your service-they just go
away. The process of stroking ourselves with
our own convictions and ignoring or failing
to uncover a lack of enthusiasm in your
client relationship can spiral into disaster.
Think of the sales process as "client service
before the sale." This is an approach that
actively involves the new client in the process
well before the first accounts are placed. It
works so well that one of my agency clients
in New Jersey got a referral from a new client
that had not even placed accounts yet-they
were just so impressed with the agency's
To solidify your position in the client's
mind, and to be in sync with who your client
wants you to be, you must be committed to
a buyer-based process designed to build true
quality partnerships with your clients (as
defined by them).
For most agencies, this approach requires
a fundamental change. Going up the ladder
to achieve a stronger share of market-mind
requires a well-conceived, well-executed
plan. Coming down is what happens when
you are not going up.
In the military, positioning involves
occupying a key strongpoint in the terrain.
In business, and especially in collection sales,
positioning involves occupying a key strong
point in the market or the buyer's mind.
You own a position in the mind either
because you are a leader or because
of significant differentiation. Because
operationally, all good agencies have access
to the same resources and technology, and
have to play by the same rules, claims of
your special "features" are empty. They are
a minimum requirement, not a differentiator.
The only place you can establish
significant differentiation is through
client service and sales. But you can't just
try to copy someone else or bring in a
generalist. You need real-world expertise
to restructure, implement, train, coach and
drive the entire process.
Competing on fee is the lowest common
denominator, and the refuge of the
salesperson who does not know how to sell
value. As an agency deploying the Insight
Selling process moves up, it erodes the
competitors' base. That lack-of-competitiveedge dysfunction forces the displaced agency
to compete on fee for positions that deliver
QUESTIONS TO DETERMINE YOUR
* What position do we own?
* What position do we want?
* Who do we have to outmaneuver?
* How much resource expense and
time will it take?
* Can we stick it out?
* Will the results justify the expense?
QUESTIONS TO DETERMINE YOUR
* Where are we?
* Where do we need to be?
* What do we have?
* What do we need?
Our bias toward what we know can lead
to misconceptions about the world around
us, and a deeply flawed imbalance in
Often, the more you know about
operations management, the less you know
about sales management. Why? Because it
takes so much focus to achieve in collection
management. This drives the inability to
take advantage of the most powerful tools
and methodology that will differentiate
your agency from your competitors. This
is what drives the failed feature-selling
approach, because features are what
management knows best.
Collection growth leaders are those who
understand and embrace why that approach
will continue to fail; giving away revenue
to agencies who truly engage their clients,
properly train salespeople to collaborate
with prospects and devote the necessary
resources to drive success.
Those leaders will recognize the
imbalance and get the expertise they need
to reposition their sales efforts, even if the
best option is to bring that expertise in on
an interim basis. You can't wing it. Relying
on this type of expertise is the fastest
and least expensive way to powerfully
strengthen the four critical pillars of
management balance that will enable you
to outsell your competitors and protect the
agency's financial future:
The four pillars are:
* Client Service
Most agencies expend an exceptional
effort to "be all that they can be"
operationally, leaving managers little or no
bandwidth to develop real-world expertise in
sales. This failure leads to lost opportunities.