The Lesson

A couple of weeks ago my son and I had the opportunity to attend a local youth basketball game. Although my son doesn’t play on the team, several of his friends do, including his best friend who happened to stop by prior to tip off to visit with us in the bleachers. My son asked him if he thought his team would win. Surprisingly, his answer was no, followed by an are-you-kidding type of laugh.

Puzzled by the response, I asked why he was throwing in the towel before the game even started. His response, “We’ve only won one game all year and these kids are undefeated.” Recognizing an opportunity to share a life lesson with him and my son, I proceeded to give the Henry Ford, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re usually right,” spiel.

This dilemma – expecting failure – can be all too real for the everyday collector who often has to hear no upwards of 10 times just to hear yes once. With so much defeat, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of expecting failure on every call, and it can be even easier to allow negative self-talk to unintentionally influence negotiations.

I’ve often seen collectors give up before they’ve even placed the call. Sometimes this is because the previous collector was unsuccessful on the account or because the collector takes the rejection from the last call into the next call.

Self-talk is negative. Attitude is negative. Expectations are negative. None of which are ideal for a collector with hopes of achieving payment.

As Thomas Jefferson so wisely stated, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; and nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

The Challenge

February is International Expect Success Month, which was created by Karla Brandau. And the challenge this week is to honor the mantra: “Expect Success, then work like there is no other option.”

Remember, every collector has had an unsuccessful call that has resulted in non-payment; however, the most successful collectors brush these failures off and move on the next call with the expectation of receiving payment in full, today, with a check over the phone.

It can be difficult to shift perspective from “I can’t do it,” to “I think I can,” to “I know I can!” It certainly was for my son’s friend. However, learning to expect a positive outcome is important for collecting successfully (and winning basketball games).

The Reflection

1. How do you prevent an unsuccessful call from spilling over into future calls?
2. What do you find most difficult about expecting success?
3. Has a customer who you thought would never pay ever surprised you by proving otherwise?

Expect success!

Gary Jensen
Editor | collector mentor

To download companion worksheets to use with The collector mentor Challenge™, please visit

About collector mentor
Published bimonthly, collector mentor is a quick-read publication dedicated entirely to delivering articles and practical advice that teaches credit and collection professionals how to increase collection results, enhance productivity, improve teamwork, and become better stewards of the industry.

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