#4: Making Your Weak Position Strong

— Here’s What I Think

Here’s What I Think #5

Bust through the myths of negotiation. Learn how the art of ‘doing nothing’ can be your strongest strategy, and why honesty trumps all. This isn’t your average advice, but then again, we’re not your average thinkers.” — Chatbot Zon

I think there’s a lot more people who think they know a lot about “negotiation” because they’ve heard a lot about “negotiating” from “negotiators.”

I think there’s far too much mystique associated with the term, that serves only to sell books and courses.

The fact is, I hate the term negotiation, almost never use it, and bristle when I hear it. When someone says “let’s negotiate,” I hear…”let me make you give up something you want.”

I made millions “negotiating.”

I started a business settling debt hardships and disputes in 1993. I had a spare bedroom and 200 bucks why not? I made $250K my first year working the B2B side of the business from that bedroom. Five years later, I added consumer clients, got a proper office, hired a couple of employees, got some sales agents, and pretty quickly rocketed to over $2 million, then $3 million.

We worked out debt problems in various ways. The average consumer client had $30,000 spread among 6 credit cards, and we maintained about 2,000 clients at a time, revolving door. We settled that debt for an average of 35 cents-on-the-dollar of the original principal, and when our fees were added on, the clients got debt-free in 2–3 years making monthly payments that totaled up to about $20,000 all-inclusive. All the accumulated late-fees and interest were dismissed. As I said, all these figures are based on the original card balance at the point we took on the client.

The clients all owed the money dead to rights. Here’s what the client could do to “throw his weight around:”

  • Hide money in various ways, disappear, etc.
  • Issue a “Cease Communication Letter” (legally binding on the creditor or agent)
  • File Bankruptcy

The debtor (or us, as his agent) can do all of these things. Creditors, collectors, and collection lawyers know all of them hands down. (… And no, you can’t “counter-sue,” no matter how much you believe in your heart that you could, and that you would prevail with the blessing of God himself.)

Uttering or threatening these things does nothing.

Doing nothing when pretending to do something is weak. Worse, it pisses the other guy off.

You know what’s strong? Doing nothing, while not pretending you can do something. Honesty is strong, and it prevails.

… In many areas of life, people forget that “do nothing” is always an option, and you would be very surprised how often it’s the best option and your strongest position.

(Filing bankruptcy takes the whole matter off the table. It’s not a settlement, solution, or a deal. It’s game over, as in cancelled. It’s no threat to the collector because they only make money on what they collect, number one, and number 2, BKs do not factor in to their collection performance rates, since they can’t prevent anyone from filing.

Collectors may not love BK, but they don’t hate it, either. It takes it off the table, doesn’t hurt their performance, is objective evidence that the debtor truly doesn’t have the capacity to pay, and saves them wasted time, so they can move onto the files where there might be money to collect.

As the agent, we had one power, and that was implied. That was the power to decide which of the creditors gets the X number of dollars I have available to send out this minute, check-by-phone if you wish. This second.

No?

“Ok, I’ll call Citibank.” (or Capital One, or Chase, or Wells, or… you get the idea)

Them: “Well, we’re just going to take [action xyz] and make [move abc].”

“Yea, I get it. Wouldn’t be the first time. Sounds bad. Wish you wouldn’t. Still, what I can do right this second is get you X bucks if you’ll settle for Y.”

And that’s how deals get done.

No, it’s not some battle where our mastery of mysterious “negotiating skillz” overcame everything they threw at us.

Pretty boring. Pretty anti-climactic. Pretty easy, actually.

Yea, the thing in our business that’s touted as the hard thing and you better let us handle this is actually the easiest.

You know what’s hard? The clients are hard. Insufferable; always, in one way or the other.

  1. Getting the clients is hard and expensive.
  2. Getting the clients to actually save the money we need to do settlements (and get our fees) every month is fucking hard.

The big bad banks and bottom-feeding collectors? Easy as shit.

And you know how I made it even easier? Did I scour around, find, and pay top-dollar to “skilled negotiators?”

Nope.

I hired female collectors. LOL. I used to love listening to the phone conversations.

… Interesting aside about the difference between the men and women here. The guys were either really good, outlier good, or really bad, outlier bad. The women were right in the fat part of the distribution. Always turning in good solid numbers and making money, month after month.

So, mostly, I hired chicks.

So much for my misogyny.

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