The Parallels Between Debt Collection and Another Maligned Profession

For the past week or so, I have had a tab open on my browser (don’t get me started on how many tabs I have open) that I have been wanting to write about, because I think the topic is fascinating and because I think there is an interesting tie-in between the subject matter of the article and the accounts receivable management industry. The article, published in The New Yorker, is about door-to-door sales, its resurgence in the wake of the Do Not Call registry, and the huge success that some people can have if they possess the right mentality and skills.

To me, I think there are a lot of parallels between door-to-door sales and debt collection. Neither are really viewed positively by the people who are being contacted, collectors and door-to-door salesmen must deal with a ton of rejection, and each only have a few seconds to try and establish a connection with an individual before a door gets slammed or a phone gets hung up. Take this description of door-to-door sales: “You’re working for free every day until you make a sale. The job is repetitive and mundane. And you get rejected over and over and over — you’ll probably only sell two out of a hundred knocks.” Doesn’t a lot of that sound familiar to collectors?

It might be hard to believe, but good door-to-door salepeople can make more than a million dollars a year selling pest control services, home alarms, or the current en vogue product, solar panels.

The article talks about the tone of voice needed to establish a connection and labeling individuals to identify the proper sales techniques. To one salesman, every rejection is “an appeal for further information,” according to the article. “He heard ‘I can’t afford it’ as ‘Show me how I can afford it,’ and ‘I already have a gun and a mean dog’ as ‘What else do I need to fully protect my family?’ ”

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