Collecting overdue and unpaid invoices can be challenging and frustrating. But with a few proven collection strategies in place, getting customers to pay their bills on time becomes easier (and, dare I say more enjoyable!).
Here I’m sharing some collection strategies that have always worked well for me (and I’ve collected payments on A LOT of invoices!)
UNPAID INVOICES? COLLECTIONS TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS AND SMES
In a small business, collecting unpaid invoices is generally just part of someone’s job. Someone that hasn’t had specialist collection training.
Getting customers to pay their bills on time, and collecting overdue invoices, is a really important aspect of every business.
Only When Payment Is Received Has the Company Made The Sale
Without payments coming in, it’s just a debt to your company. That’s a step backwards.
Every business needs a few collection techniques and strategies to help it grow and prosper, so knowing how to ask for payment politely is crucial. You can find out more about how to make collection calls in a small business here.
Because it’s such an important part of business, set aside a little time every day to focus on getting your invoices paid. With a couple of easy collection strategies and some consistency, you’ll soon get your invoices paid on time.
When your invoices are paid on time you won’t have to chase overdue invoices. Life will be easier and much less stressful.
5 PROVEN COLLECTION STRATEGIES
#1 CUSTOMER PLAYING ‘HARD TO GET’?
- Call at a different time of day and call every day if possible.
- If your customer is hard to track down in the morning, try them in the afternoon or before/after business hours. Busy people often go to work early and/or stay late
#2 CAN’T GET PAST THE GATEKEEPER?
If you call the customer and ask “can I speak to John Brown” and he’s always “in a meeting”, you could ask the ‘Gatekeeper’ instead (the receptionist for example) “Is John Brown there today please?”
That way, you can find out if he’s there but not taking your call. Ask the Gatekeeper for help… “I really need to speak to him/her…do you know when they might be free?”
If you think the customer or gatekeeper might recognize your voice, ask your colleague to call. They can pass the phone over to you as soon as your customer comes on the line.
#3 PROVIDE AWESOME SERVICE
Everyone loves good service and it’s SO rare these days. It’ll make you immediately popular and well thought of.
- When collecting unpaid invoices, the first thing to do is make sure that there is nothing wrong or outstanding with the goods or service.
- Make sure too that the invoice is correct. Then ask “is there a hold-up somewhere that I can help you with? “or “When is it scheduled for payment?”
#4 AVOID UNPAID INVOICES BY ASKING “IS THERE A PROBLEM?”
- Once you know that the goods, service and invoice are all fine but there’s no scheduled payment date, you can politely ask “Is there a problem?”
- Most people hate to think that there’s a problem in their company! They will pay you just to prove that there isn’t a problem.
#5 Use Open Questions to Get You the Answer You Need:
- Use ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘when?’, ‘where?’ and ‘how?’ to find out what the problems are
- Who needs to authorize this invoice?
- I really need to speak to him. What time will he be back from lunch?
- When is your next scheduled payment run?
- Where is your warehouse located?
- When will you be able to check that with the Warehouse Manager?
- How will I know if those invoices are included in the payment run on Friday?
Asking open questions is one of the most effective ways to improve collections. If you pause after asking an open question, your customer will fill the ‘uncomfortable’ space and give you the answer you want.
Keep asking open questions until you find out exactly what’s happening with your payments. Open questions are a great way to get a customer to commit to paying their bill.
SET UP FOR COLLECTIONS SUCCESS – Your CHECKLIST:
- Call new customers to introduce yourself before you send out their first invoice.
- Find out if the goods / service received exactly as ordered
- Check the address and the person’s name that the invoice is going to
- Make a ‘customer service’ call before the payment due date.
- Record notes of conversations with customers to refer back to later
- Build a friendly but professional relationship with your customer. People who like you pay you.
- Use the ‘phone. You can’t build a relationship by email
- Use email to confirm agreements and conversations
- Put a few easy techniques and strategies in place for collections success
- Follow these collections tips and you won’t need to collect overdue invoices. They’ll be all paid by the due date!
Let me know your #1 problem getting invoices paid on time. I’m waiting to help you Get Paid!
Are Late-Paying Customers Driving You Crazy And Sending You Broke?
Do you want increased cash flow, bigger profits and less stress?
If you do, discover how easy it is to get all your invoices paid just by asking for payment politely - In the Get Paid! eCourse