3 Modes for Persuasion in Collections

| Mary Shores

Every consumer’s decision to pay ultimately comes down to one key component. Every client’s decision to hire your agency, every vendor you’ve ever hired, all those decisions came down to one important thing.

This is something you have to master if you want to succeed as a collector, and it’s something you definitely need to get on top of to win new clients for your agency too.

You ready to hear what it is?

It’s persuasion.

Consumers have to be motivated to pay. Prospective clients have to be convinced to sign on with your agency.

There are three key factors to be aware of when it comes to persuasion. These techniques, developed by Aristotle, are commonly applied to advertising and public speaking situations, but they’re relevant to just about any industry where you need to encourage people to align with you.

The three factors of persuasion are ethos, pathos, and logos.

Let’s start with ethos…

Ethos – Credibility and Ethics 

Ethos is all about credibility and ethics. Mastering ethos is critical to becoming a successful collector.

Consumers have to know they can trust you. They need to believe that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re considering their situation and challenges too.

Consider this:

  • Do consumers hear certainty and confidence in your voice?

  • Are you making them feel heard and understood?

  • Are you talking in terms of solutions or are only telling consumers what you can’t do for them?

Also: Are your responses consistent with the rest of the collectors at your agency? Or is there a chance that if the consumer talks to another collector, he’ll receive a different response? Consistency is important because mismatched communication erodes trust and credibility.

Trust can make or break a collection call. If consumers don’t trust you, they’re not going to want to engage with you. Do they understand your personal character?

In terms of attracting new clients, here are some examples of ethos in action:

Has someone ever hired your agency because of a referral? Ethos.

Has a client ever made a snap decision to go with you instead of another agency because you had a ton of testimonials and case studies? Ethos.

They trust your company’s credibility.

Pathos – Emotions and Feelings

Emotions stick with us. As poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou famously said:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Connection – or disconnection – is created through feeling.

The words collectors use with consumers will trigger certain feelings.

For example, validating phrases like “I appreciate you sharing that with me,” “I can see how important this is to you,” and “That sounds really challenging” build rapport and trust.

That’s because by acknowledging consumers’ experiences, you help them feel seen and heard. This is important because consumers who don’t feel heard or understood are going to have a hard time moving on in the conversation and being receptive to a solution from you.

Additionally, positive language like “I have great news for you,” or “I am more than happy to help you with this,” and “I can definitely look into this” can give consumers a sigh-of-relief and help them feel unburdened. These phrases also build their confidence in you.

On the other hand, negative language like “You should have done this” or “by law” can make consumers anxious and uneasy and feel the need to defend themselves, which causes the call to get stuck in the negative part of the conversation.

As a collector, one of the most important things to be aware of is the feeling your words evoke. People really do make decisions based on how they feel.

If you’re trying to win new clients for your agency, you can also try to connect with them through feeling.

For instance, does your company mission align with theirs? People are more receptive to working with companies they can identify with.

Logos – Logic and Reason

It’s all about appealing to logic and people’s sense of reason when it comes to logos.

When you are talking with consumers, make sure you are helping them understand what their options are.

In our office, one of the things we say is, “Would you like to take the opportunity to pay this in full prior to the account being placed on your credit report?

(Note: Do you notice how the above sentence is framed as an opportunity instead of a consequence? Collectors are more successful when they can lift consumers up and motivate them to pay off their debts instead of tearing them down).

Other important information to note is whether consumers are required to clear their account balance before returning to the client or restarting their service with the client, so long as this information is framed as an opportunity rather than a consequence.

Another example of logos in action is explaining to consumers how being on a higher monthly payment arrangement helps them get their debt paid off quicker (and the quicker it's paid off, the less time they'll have hanging over their head -- pathos).

On the sales side, here are some questions to consider:

  • What are the proven results of your service?

  • Can your client trust you to do things cheaper, more effectively, and more efficiently?

Include that info when talking to prospective clients.

Final Thoughts 

All together, these three methods of persuasion are extremely effective.


Because they all contribute to the feeling of trust and security consumers and clients have with you. Check out this list of examples, and then take a look at your messaging to see if you inspire trust in consumers and clients.

To learn more about creating a team of persuasive and high-converting collectors, book a call with me today.

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