Should I use email or phone calls to chase my invoices efficiently?
What’s the most efficient way to get paid on time? People ask that question often and I think it depends on how you term efficiency.
Is efficiency the amount of time you spend chasing invoices, the percentage of invoices that get paid on time, the quality of the relationship with your customer? Is efficiency the length of time you spend on the phone or drafting an email?
These are all things you need to consider. Start by asking the question: What is it you want to do to get your invoice paid?
Do you prefer to send multiple email, without any other contact with the customer? Or, do you want to build up a relationship with the customer?
If you quantify efficiency in terms of time then automatic emails are the way to do it. You write them once and the software system sends them out at specified times.
Read this blog to learn how you can get better engagement from emailed invoices.
Personally, I don’t like sending automatic emails. I think automatic emails can come across as rude, pushy and they do nothing to build my relationship with my supplier. I would much rather receive a phone call.
I train everyone I deal with to make phone calls. Why?
You’re building up a relationship and once you get to know the customer they’ll tell you about problems, of any sort, they’re having within the business. The chances are you can then do an introduction to someone who can help them.
The person you’ve introduced them to will remember you, your customer will remember you because you were helpful and gave them advice on something that isn’t your area and you put them in contact with someone who can help.
You’re building up that relationship with them and you’re getting to know them.
Also, by doing two friendly phone calls. By phone calls I don’t mean just a contact, it’s building a relationship with the accounts department if it’s a bigger company. Make sure you build that relationship with the accounts department.
One of the most successful stories I’ve heard from one of my coaching clients is how they were struggling to get paid by a big firm. The client’s contact was a person in London but the Accounts section was in The Netherlands and the payments authoriser is in the UK. Invoices were never paid on time. They either lost or not authorised. The client picked up the phone and started to build a relationship with UK accounts; they sent emails to the contact in the Netherlands and built up a relationship there. Each time they emailed the Dutch person, they would also copy in the contact in the UK who needed to authorise. The next time the client went to visit his customer in London he asked if the accounts department is in the same building.
It turned out the accounts department was and on the floor below. After the meeting, he went to Accounts and asked to meet Denise, his accounts contact.
Denise was by the photocopier and when he introduced himself, Denise threw her arms around him and said, “I’d recognise that voice anywhere; you’re that friendly chap who gives me a call each week to see how I’m doing, aren’t you? You’re Sam from XYZ Company and it’s lovely to put a face to a name; it’s awesome to meet you and I love our chats. And you’ve come at just the right time.”
Denise then said, “I’m going on holiday for a fortnight and here’s Beverley. She’s going to be covering your account. Beverley, have you got a minute? This is Sam, the supplier from up north. He’ll give you a ring in the next couple of weeks, have a chat with you and just solve any issues we’ve got on the invoices. He’s a great lad and we always pay him on time.”
I think that case study shows that picking up the phone, building a relationship, having a phone call with your customer every week is definitely the best way and the most efficient way to getting you paid on time.
Until next time, stay healthy, keep well and don’t forget, without payment, you’ve got no business.