When someone fails to pay a debt, different explanations may follow. You might have heard every excuse in the book, but do you know how to respond effectively? Following are some of the most common explanations for nonpayment you’ll hear from B2B clients and ways you can respond to encourage prompt payment.
- We Already Sent the Payment
You may hear this explanation when you get in touch with a business’s AP department. In some cases, it might be true. No system — even the United States Postal Service’s — is perfect.
However, if you haven’t received the payment, you need to dig a little deeper. Ask probing questions that have the person on the other end of the phone to flesh out the story:
- On what date did you send it?
- What are the check number and the amount?
- Which invoices does the check cover?
- Is it possible that the check is lost in-house or in the mail?
- How can we resolve this situation to bring your account current?
Focus on proactive questions and suggestions that encourage payment. Work toward a reasonable solution, such as making the payment over the phone or sending a duplicate check. After all, the company can always put a stop payment on the lost original.
- We Don’t Have the Money
It sounds like an excuse, but even stable businesses sometimes run into cash flow problems. What’s most helpful in this situation is to suggest ways to resolve the account by asking probing questions and by demonstrating empathy.
- How many creditors do you owe right now?
- When do you anticipate satisfying the invoice?
- What amount could you pay toward your balance today?
- Is this a one-time event or regular occurrence?
Depending on the company representative’s answers, provide suggestions to help the client pay what they owe including possibly offering a payment plan.
- We Never Received Your Invoice
Another common explanation you might hear from B2B companies about nonpayment concerns the invoice itself. The company might say they never received it, and therefore claim that the AP department can’t process the payment until they get it.
Give the client the benefit of the doubt. Human error can definitely occur whether it is the USPS, someone in the business’s mail room sorted it incorrectly, or perhaps a distracted employee tossed it in the trash. Accidents can happen!
A proactive approach works best in this situation:
- Offer to fax or email the invoice so the client receives it faster.
- Ask the client to forego Net-30 or Net-60 policies to avoid a late payment.
- Suggest that you send invoices via email instead of the postal service for future work.
- Explain that you have to enforce your contract, whether it’s late fees or adding invoices to the owed amount.
It’s frustrating to fulfill your end of a bargain only to receive silence instead of a payment. However, if you know how to handle these common explanations, you can encourage clients to pay faster — and to avoid nonpayment in the future. However, working with an experienced debt collection agency might speed up the collection process even faster. Contact TSI to see how we help clients with their B2B collections. We’re dedicated to helping you get paid quickly, easily, and affordably.