When you place a call to collect on an overdue invoice, remember that being as pleasant as possible is the fastest route to getting paid as soon as possible. If necessary, you can be firm. But being too aggressive, let alone rude, is highly unlikely to get you paid any faster and much more likely to send your invoice to the bottom of the pile. Voice tone, voice speed, and the emotion you convey over the phone can be just as important as what you actually say.

In this following scenario, I have just been connected by phone to the accounts payable manager of the firm that owes me money.

Susie: Susie Smith here.
Bob: Susie, this is Bob Adams calling from Bob’s Rent-A-Bike. How are you today?
Susie: Fine, thank you.
Bob: Susie, are you the person responsible for paying bills?
Susie: Yes, I am.
Bob: Great! I bet you can help me out. We have an invoice outstanding that is almost a month overdue. I wonder if you can tell me when it will be paid?
Susie: Oh yes, I’m familiar with that invoice and I can assure you that we will pay it as soon as we can.
Bob: Well, Susie, I really need to get paid now because that invoice is a month overdue. How about sending a check today?
Susie: Well, I’d like to send a check today, Bob, but we are in the middle of a cash flow crunch. Don’t worry, though, I’ll pay it as soon as we can.
Bob: Well, how about then just giving me a credit card number I can charge it to?
Susie: Sorry, Bob, we never do that.
Bob: Susie, I certainly appreciate the fact that you are being candid with me. But I do need something. How about sending a partial payment—half today and half within a couple of weeks?
Susie: Okay, I’ll tell you what, I will send half today and the remainder of the payment by the end of the month.
Bob: That would be great, Susie. I really appreciate it. Half mailed today and half by the 31st of this month. Let me note that on my calendar. Okay, got it. Thanks, and have a nice day.