Chasing overdue payments – when is the best time to phone your client?
Nobody I’ve spoken to likes chasing overdue payments. It’s one of those things we tend to put off because we’re so British. We probably worry more about upsetting the client than getting the money we’re owed.
Does this sound about right to you?
Avoiding calling about overdue payments
Let me take another guess.
You are inclined to do every other task on your to-do list (or even make up new ones) rather than make that call. This is called task avoidance and happens when we’re at our least confident.
What makes matters worse is we know perfectly well how putting off that call will only cause more stress and impact your cash flow.
The best time to phone your client is when you are at your best
When picking up the phone to chase overdue invoices, it comes down to when is YOUR best time, not the best time for the client.
Begin with the end in mind. Focus on the outcome which is getting paid.
Eat that Frog Method
If making the call makes you nervous, just say to yourself, “Let’s eat that frog and let’s get paid today”.
What do I mean by eating frogs?
It’s where you do the worst thing you need to do first. Get it over and done with. If you make the task you most dread the first thing you do, then you won’t have to think about it again all day, thus releasing stress and making you more productive.
“Eat a live frog every morning,
and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”.
Feel good, Do Great Method
Even if you’re not too worried about chasing payment by phone but you’re putting it off because you’re too busy with too many other things to do.
Choose a time when your energy levels are at their highest, when you feel energetic and confident. Avoid times when life events could get in the way or interrupt your flow; school runs, swimming lessons, VAT Returns, making dinner.
If you go to the gym in the morning, why not make that call when you get back? When you’re energised with lots of nice endorphins running around your body.
Just remember not to use these things as an excuse not to make the call, otherwise we’re back to purely task avoidance.
When chasing overdue payments, how do you come across to the client?
When you call your client, your conversation will leave a much better impression if you are confident and your voice has energy, clarity and a bit of authority.
Stand up and smile
Without reading on, try this experiment:
Use your phone to record these words in the three stances below:
“Good morning, this is [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR COMPANY].”
- Lie down on the sofa, put your feet up, perhaps lay your head on a cushion.
- Sit at your desk, hunch your shoulders as lean forward towards your computer and tuck your feet under your chair
- Stand up, smile
Play back the recordings. What difference did you notice?
Keep the end in mind
Before you make that call, be ready, be prepared, focus on the outcome. No matter how much the client my try to divert the conversation, the outcome is about getting paid.
There may be a few reasons why clients pay late ranging between feeble excuses and legitimate reasons. Take a moment to consider what the reason could be and be ready with your answer or solution.
- Did you have all the right information on your invoice? You’d be surprised how many people forget to put the simple things on, like their BACS information.
- Did your invoice say when the money was due?
- What if your customer now says there’s a problem with the service you provided? Can you be ready with a solution – i.e. stage payments or a payment plan?
- What if your customer has cash flow issues and wants to pay by credit card – have you got the means to take a credit card?
- Can you take a debit or credit payment now, over the phone?
Scripts to use when chasing invoices
In the Cash Flow College this month, I’ll be covering everything you need for successful credit control, including telephone scripts for chasing late invoices and what you can do if you haven’t been paid.
Join the Cashflow College today to access to these scripts and so much more information about getting you paid.
What activities do you do instead of making that overdue payment call?
Drop your suggestions in the comments box below.
If you want to know more about eating frogs