Negotiating is a common task for A/R Specialists, and the interviewer is trying to learn what amount of experience you have. Begin by telling the interviewer if you have negotiated payment terms or an invoice in general, with a customer. Discuss what types of deals you have settled as well as how often you have conducted negotiations.
Next, mention what you liked about the negotiation process, and finish up by discussing one specific example of a negotiation which worked out well for you. If you do not have experience in negotiations, that is okay too. You could mention that you are open to training when it comes to collections, or discuss any sales training you may have.
"Back in 2011, when many companies were starting to pull out of the economic slowdown, I was given many faulty customer accounts on which to follow up. One by one, I called these customers who had defaulted, and asked for a payment of some type, to re-establish our business relationships. Most of the clients paid at least 50% upfront, with negotiated terms for the remainder of their balances. At first, the idea of performing collections and naming terms made me very nervous, but I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish. In the first week alone, I was able to recover over $359K for our company."
"My current employer gives our clients the opportunity to be flexible with payments more often that I would like to see. This flex is normally given to customers that have an established credit history, and have run into slow times. I have learned it's best to re-establish normal payment terms with the client as soon as possible so that extensions do not become the norm. Although I am newer to my career as an A/R specialist, I am quickly learning the ins and outs of payment defaults and the fast impact they have on a company."
"Back in 2011, when many companies were just starting to pull out of the economic slowdown, a turnkey customer had been taking advantage of the company, and I was given this customer account to start managing. Both the Accounting Manager and A/R Team lead left within 2 weeks of each other, leaving a big void in the A/R Department. I was the most senior member in the department, and the President asked me to handle this account which happened to be nearly 50% of the companies business, and he did not want to call customer himself, he avoided any type of confrontation. I thought was very unusual, but I called the owner of the business myself and explained to him that there would not be any further business, until some type of goodwill payment was made. I let him know that nearly 60% of his balance was over aged and payment was needed. The customer called the owner of the my company, and he called me in to have a conference call with the customer. The owner let me do most of the talking and supported my negotiated terms that I had communicated to the customer. Eventually, an ACH payment was made, but not without the customer threatening to leave or find another business. I did not reply, just said that we can always move them to Prepaid terms, instead of granting them credit. The customer asked to keep the current terms. This situation made me very nervous, because I did not know how either business owner was going to react, but I stayed calm and professional."