The Polite Way To Ask For Payment: 12 Steps

the polite way to ask for payment: 12 steps

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

Although I’ve worked in this field my whole career (don’t ask!), I’ve never used the term ‘debt collection’. To me, it conjures up dark nights and baseball bats, and that’s definitely not a polite way to ask customers for payment. 

But invoices do have to be paid; otherwise, your business will fail. 

The Key Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail:

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

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 

My business was in a very competitive industry. To compete, we needed to be better and faster than our competitors, and that included getting our invoices paid promptly so that we were always cash flow-positive and profitable. People like to do business with profitable businesses, and people like to work for profitable businesses too.

‘Debt collection’ to me didn’t have a customer service-centric ring to it, and we wanted to build a strong business relationship with all our customers, so we called the whole process of asking for payment either: 

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

The Polite Way To Ask For Payment?

Customer service. We found that by providing great customer service all through the sales process, our customers valued our service. Consequently, they liked us and paid us on time and often before they paid other suppliers. We never lost a profitable customer and we had  loads of repeat business.

The #1 skill you need to get invoices paid on time is customer service:

#2. Know how to ask the right questions 

#3. Know how to avoid asking the wrong questions 

#4. Know how to use your voice to its very best effect 

#5. Choose the right words to use 

#6. A service attitude. Provide a service to help 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. Being able to set up a receivables account correctly. Get your admin right. 

#9. Having confidence (and knowing that confidence just comes from knowledge) 

#10. Perseverance and tenacity. Sometimes people are busy. Their focus probably isn’t paying your invoice, it’s getting more sales. 

#11. Knowing how to be persuasive without being irritating. Explaining all the reasons why your customer should pay on time. 

#12. Administration skills. Sound like a professional by keeping notes of conversations (anyone can do that). 

Go focus. Make the job fun and exciting.  

To your business success!