The 6 Best Ways To End Awkward Invoicing Conversations
Every year, 13% of all invoices don’t get paid.
And of all the invoices that get sent out, 39% won’t get paid on time. All these late or unpaid bills can be frustrating enough on their own. But the conversations that often follow often make the situation even more uncomfortable.
Having to ask your client to pay you yet again after a number of follow-up emails is nobody’s idea of fun—and very seldom does this practice give way to productive results.
Fortunately, there are other ways to get you paid.
By following this list of tips, you can avoid awkward payment conversations with clients and make sure every invoice is followed by a prompt, punctual, and professional deposit.
Read on to make sure you get your money!
- Be understanding
I know, I know. Being understanding is the last thing you want to be when your rent is due and your bills are unpaid. But taking a calmer stance can help people empathize with your situation and take your requests for payment more seriously.
Instead of sending an angry all-caps email listing their various faults and flaws, take a deep breath and compose yourself so that you maintain a professional image. This kind of approach can encourage clients to take you seriously and see the sense in your request.
Inflammatory behavior is often met with more of the same, or worse. So, do what you can to remain calm, neutral, and firm in your requests for owed payment.
- Communicate payment terms early
Prevention is better than cure.
By clarifying payment terms before you even start working on a client’s project, you can avoid late payments and the conversations that come with them well in advance. Setting up a clear contract with specific payment terms is one way to do that.
- Net days– this term refers to the number of days within which a client must pay their bill after an invoice is For example, adding “Net 7” means that the client must pay you within seven days of receiving your invoice.
- End of Month (EOM) – adding this term to your payment contract tells clients that they’re required to pay you before the end of the month.
- Late payment fee– a little incentivisation can go a long way. With a pre-established late payment fee, you can motivate clients to be 100% prompt about paying you on time, because they won’t want to pay that extra cost.
- Early payment discount– once again, incentivisation to the rescue. You can inspire early payments (even better) with a small discount.
Adding these kinds of payment terms to your contract as a small business or even an independent contractor is one of the best ways to avoid uncomfortable late payment conversations.
When you make your payment terms ultra clear and spelt out, you prevent misunderstandings from occurring and make it much easier for clients to gauge when they’re expected to pay you. Communication is always key!
- Be consistently responsive
If a client is taking too long to pay you, don’t keep quiet about it and expect the situation to resolve itself—because it won’t.
Make sure you’re quick to respond to clients so that they understand you’re present and willing to communicate as often as it takes to resolve issues like an unpaid invoice.
If they try to contact you about the outstanding bill and you ignore them, they have a right to feel equally frustrated. The best approach is to be ready and available for dialogue within all professional hours. That way, they can’t make any excuses about your lack of availability.
- Automate your billing system
If all this sounds overwhelming, here’s some good news—you don’t have to do it alone.
We are fortunate enough to live in an age where digital tools make running a business so much simpler. Automation options are not only available, but they’re also becoming more accessible and cost-effective every day.
You can use billing software to handle incoming and outgoing invoices so that every process is prompt, professional, and primed to get you paid on time.
- Make it easy for clients to pay you
The easier you make it for clients to pay you on time, the more likely it is that they will. By giving them ample options to pay and plenty of time to do so, you can encourage ideal payment behavior. This makes you appear more professional and accommodating.
Some of the most popular payment channels in use today include:
- Google Pay
- Apple Pay
Not only does adding a variety of payment options make it easier to pay you, but it also helps establish you as a serious professional in your field. Accommodating, helpful, and professional!
- Share info about how other customers pay
Sometimes, clients just need a bit of guidance.
By sharing information about how other clients typically pay you or how they integrate your billing into their invoice processing, you can encourage them to feel more comfortable with the process you’ve chosen. It’s a sort of “if they’ve done it that way, I can too!” mentality.
This kind of approach gives your clients the structure and stability they may be craving to go ahead and make payment. Of course, you shouldn’t necessarily need to spoon-feed clients your payment method, but if that’s what gets you paid on time, it’s worth it.
The Bottom Line On Getting Paid
Everyone deserves to get paid on time for their hard-earned work. But in reality, it’s just not that simple. Inflation rises, finances fluctuate, and people overestimate their ability to issue payments on time. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept being treated below your worth.
By adopting some professional yet compassionate communication and billing habits, you can weed out misguided invoice patterns and start tightening up your payment process.
It’s also important to bear in mind that your clients often face the same financial challenges as you, so being understanding and supportive can go a long way. However, never let your understanding damage your business or cause cash flow issues of your own.
Get the balance right, get your invoicing right, and get your clients on the right track. If you do so, you won’t have to face anywhere near as many awkward conversations in the future.