I’ve spoken a lot about the difficulty and value behind having hard conversations but the one I get asked about most often is how to ask for your money. Talking about money is generally a difficult thing for people to do but I speak with many business owners who are afraid to reach out and ask their clients for their money. They say things like “I’ve known them for a very long time,” “I’m sure they’ll pay, they always pay a little late” and the best one, “but they’re a really good customer.”
This is the one that KILLS me, because are they really a good customer? If they’re not paying you, they’re taking advantage of you. If you are doing work for someone for free, that’s not revenue, that’s a donation or a favor. When I push business owners to really think about WHY they don’t want to ask for their money, it really helps them frame up the conversation. It doesn’t have to be adversarial or with raised voices, it’s simply a quick call to say, I noticed that invoice #1234 is a little (A LOT) overdue and wanted to check on it. You’re really only going to hear a couple of answers:
1. What invoice? RESPONSE: #1234, it was due 90 days ago, I sent it to Mary on such & such date, is there someone else I should be sending it to? I’ll re-send it now & CC you and if you could let me know when we can accept payment, I’ll tell my accounting department.
2. I’m so sorry, let me get on that RESPONSE: great, I figured it was just an error, when can I tell my accountant to expect payment?
3. I’m in a really bad place and I just don’t have the money. RESPONSE: let’s talk about what you can do. I’ll let you put it on a credit card as an exception this time or what about a payment plan? (*if you’re still doing work for that client, you probably want to stop.)
All this is to say that the conversation will give you some piece of information that will help guide you so that you can take the next steps. Whether that’s continuing doing favors for a friend or realizing that customer’s not so great after all. And if you need help crafting that conversation or would prefer to have someone else do the dirty work, schedule a time here to discuss how we can help.