Successful Debt Collectors: Born or Trained?


Debt collectors operate in a very sensitive environment. Those that make collections calls must know how to talk to people who may be at one of the toughest points of their lives. People who are in significant debt may suffer from related social issues such as unemployment, failed marriage or foreclosure on their home or property as well as mental and emotional repercussions, including depression.

While placing and returning phone calls to consumers, debt collectors must strike a balance between being compassionate about the debtor’s financial situations while also being firm in the execution of their duties to ultimately find ways to collect the debt. Collectors often find themselves on the receiving end of anger, screaming and cursing, during which they must be patient and maintain control of their own emotions.

Because of these conditions, not everyone is cut out to be in the collections business. Collections firms must be intentional and specific when hiring by seeking out those who will make the best collectors.

A recent debate on LinkedIn discussed whether or not personality or proper training techniques were responsible for the success of a debt collector. In his article on Collection Advisor, Dean Kaplan compiled a list of debt collector job descriptions from different firms, and it was no surprise that many of the desired qualities overlapped.

  1. Perseverance/Tenacity
  2. Thick-skinned/Doesn’t take things personally
  3. Cool-headed
  4. Self-motivated/Independent
  5. Patient

Don’t misunderstand us, possessing all of the right qualities does not negate the need for comprehensive training in negotiations, salesmanship, customer service and the firm’s policies. However, without these five attributes, collectors could cause more harm than good for the firm and the consumers.

What do you think? Are successful collectors born or trained? Feel free to weigh in in our comments section.

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