12 Polite Ways to Ask for Payment

Jan Reeves - Polite ways to ask for Payment

Debt collection: How can you find polite ways to ask for payment of a debt? The very term ‘debt collection’ sends shivers down many spines.

Although I’ve worked around ‘collecting money’ in one way or another for my whole career (don’t ask how long!), I’ve never used the term ‘debt collection.’ To me, debt collection is a bit of a negative term. It seems to conjure dark nights and baseball bats! That’s not a polite way to ask valuable customers for payment.

But, regardless if we call it debt collection, accounts receivable, collections or credit control, invoices do have to be paid. If too many invoices aren’t paid the business will eventually fail. It’s essential to find the polite way to ask for payment because no business can survive without cash.

Cash Flow Is 2 Out of The 5 Top Reasons Small Businesses Fail:

  • 82% experience cash flow problems
  • 42% no market need for products & services
  • 29% run out of cash
  • 23% don’t have the right team
  • 19% are outcompeted

Not knowing the polite way to ask for payment can be a disaster because…

“9/10 businesses fail because they run out of cash” – Neil Patel

I was a small business owner in a very competitive industry. To compete in our market, we needed to supply and service our customers better and faster than our competitors. We also had to be better and faster at getting our invoices paid promptly so that we were always cash flow-positive and profitable.

Because the term ‘debt collection’ didn’t have a positive customer service feel to it, and because we wanted to be on good terms with all our customers, we referred to asking for payment as either:

  • Accounts receivable
  • ‘Receivables’
  • Credit control
  • Collections

What are the Polite Ways to Ask for Payment?

  1. Customer service. We found that by providing great customer service our customers got to like us and paid us on time (and gave us repeat business). We never lost a profitable customer. Customer service was our #1 polite way to ask for payment.
  2. Know how to ask the right questions
  3. Know how to avoid asking the wrong questions
  4. Use the tone and inflection of your voice to its very best effect
  5. Choose the right words to politely ask for payment
  6. A service attitude. Provide a service that helps your customer to pay on time (yes!)
  7. Know how to make sure an invoice is correct (so many are wrong and will never be paid).
  8. Set up a customer’s receivables account correctly. That’s just good admin.
  9. Having confidence (and knowing that confidence just comes from knowledge)
  10. Polite perseverance and tenacity. Sometimes people are busy. Their focus probably isn’t paying your invoice at this moment.
  11. Know how to be persuasive and how to explain all the reasons why your customer should pay you on time.
  12. Administration skills. Sound like a professional by keeping notes of conversations (anyone can do that).

What can you start doing and stop doing so you use all the polite ways to ask your customer for payment, get your invoices paid on time and improve your cash flow?

To your business success!

Jan Reeves - Polite ways to ask for Payment