Bridging a collection tip

A few months ago, I was listening to an interview of Peter Mansbridge. For those of you who live outside of Canada, Peter Mansbridge is the seasoned and well-respected anchor for CBC television news. On most occasions it is an unflappable and ‘very cool’ Peter who does the interviewing.

This time was different. He was asked, “What are the questions you favor most when you conduct your interviews?” He said that he enjoys the opportunities to talk with and to interview his peers, newscasters or journalists. He uses a direct approach and isn’t coy with them, asking ‘how did you manage to get good at what you do’ and ‘is there anything you do to get better’?

Peter provided the story of an interview he had conducted not long before with Tom Brokaw. One of Tom’s specialties is providing ‘color commentary’ during national elections. Peter asked him if he did anything in particular to prepare himself. Tom mentioned that one of his techniques is to develop and practice the delivery of his ad-libs. “Some folks may tell you this is impossible,” Tom explained. “It is difficult; no double about it, but it can be done.”

Here is what he would do.

“I’ll get creative,” he said, “and spend a lot of time trying to imagine ALL the possible scenarios that might occur – and some of them will be pretty much off the wall.  Then, I’ll pose the question to myself, ‘what do you think about that’. Some of my first responses are pretty good, but I’ll spend time polishing some others. For some of those, I’ll even practice delivery.”

Tom added that the specific situation may not occur, but if it does – he is ready for it, if something close occurs, he is going to be quicker off the mark than he would have otherwise. If nothing remotely close to his practice occurs, no matter, he’s had the benefit of some good practice for ‘thinking on your feet’ – always being ready.

How can we apply this technique to collections?

Go the extra mile:

The best ‘professionals will do this and sometimes it almost seems no matter what they are doing – they are always working. There are many good collectors who will ask for tips and advice when they have a difficult situation. However, the best of us never miss an opportunity to ask their peers in collections (and sales) about some of their techniques.

What’s the worst that could happen:

We can get jaded in our business and perhaps cynical, but it is best to consider the worst scenarios before we pick up the telephone. What reasons are they going to throw at us for NOT paying their account? Ask yourself what you think about that – and like Brokaw, even practice some of your delivery . A professional is good at thinking on their feet – even when sitting down.

Get a coach:

The producers and their assistants won’t be too far away from those folks who are asking the questions. The interview will be receiving tips and suggestions in a note, during a break or perhaps through their earpiece. You don’t think Barbara Walters thought up all those questions herself, did you? O.K., maybe the one about ‘what kind of tree would you wan to be’, no producer in their right mind will take ownership for that one, but for most of the others, she had help.

How about having your own coach with you – all the time? The typical excuses you hear, the right questions and some added tips & techniques can ‘literally’ be at your fingertips with our product S.A.G.E. You can even develop your own responses (coach yourself, like Tom did). Odds are you won’t have to use it more than once to pay for your investment – after that it’s gravy.

Pithy quote to leave you with:

“Her adlib lines were well rehearsed,” Rod Stewart