speak the good news, write the bad news

Home/techniques/speak the good news, write the bad news

speak the good news, write the bad news

chasing slow debtors? life's far too short for this, so - WRITE the bad newsWhen you’re chasing slow payers it’s always good policy to “Speak the Good News, Write the Bad News”. That way, you’re always the Good Guy because you never get to say anything unpleasant!
When a person calls you saying things like “I didn’t like the tone of your letter”, you can blame someone or something else for having had to write it.

  • It’s our policy– (whether you have one or not. Do the clients know anyway?)
  • The computer generates the letters automatically(whether it does or does not it doesn’t matter!!).
  • The Board– anything or anyone will do actually,
  • Jonathan Fortesque– quite so! Who is this Jonathan Fortesque indeed? Does he exist? Does he have to exist to be blamed?

If you have to ‘get heavy’ when you’re chasing up an account it’s best to do it in writing. Why? Because:

  1. you give debtors a chance to work out what they’re going to do when they get your ‘heavy’ letter rather than surprising the hell out of them if you do it by phone, and
  2. you’d only get into an argument if you phoned them with the bad news anyway.


To explain.

If you want them to Pay-Up-Or-Else, how can you say that nicely over the phone and avoid an argument?  You can’t, can you?  So … don’t. Write to them. Then you can phone them a little later, once they’ve got your letter, and decided what they’re going to do about it.  (Incidentally, if they’ve done nothing about it, they HAVE actually done something about it, haven’t they?  They’ve done … absolutely NOTHING.

And THAT tells us quite a bit about their intent or their attitude about the account doesn’t it?).  So, once you’ve written the Bad News you can phone them later to follow it up with an “Is there anything I can do to help?” attitude.


And what exactly can you say then?
If you do have to write a Pay-Up-Or-Else letter to some debtors and then follow them up by phone, try saying something along these lines. (Most creditors send a ‘heavy’ letter and then just wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. But, guess what? So does the Debtor! That’s called going nowhere very quickly!)

So, try this, you could say

Is there any way that we can stop this happening?

See what’s happened here? You’ve written to them saying something ‘heavy’ or that you’re going to sue them and now you’re phoning them up as their ally. With a “How can we sort this out together?” attitude. A phone call saying that, on the other hand, cannot be a happy call!  You wrote to them with the Bad News (We’re going to sue you) and spoke the Good News (How can I help you to avoid all this happening?) So, like we said before … Speak the Good News, Write the Bad News.

AND, if you already know what they’re going to say before you even pick up the phone, why phone? DON’T! Write to them instead. Say what you want to say and send your letter by Registered Post. This will make sure that THEY get YOUR letter and then THEY will know that YOU know that THEY have got YOUR letter! Got it? They will.

more telephone skills


By | 2017-07-13T08:51:43+00:00 February 19th, 2009|techniques|1 Comment

About the Author:

Have you ever wondered why a client does business with you and then ignores your invoice like they had no intention of paying it in the first place or they treat you like their own personal line of credit, leaving YOU dangling, waiting months for their payment? Unfortunately this situation is all too common and can even be puzzling for the most experienced business owner. If you’ve ever had to handle outstanding accounts or you are just so over non-payers, then we can help. Real-world skills, solutions, tips & strategies to get more accounts paid on time, and, most importantly, how to maintain customer goodwill while keeping YOUR cash flow in the positive. You will find the blog posts helpful but to get real results, contact us by using any of the forms on this site, by email or by phone. I’ve been involved in the management of accounts for over 30 years, heard every excuse in the book, can spot a non-payer at 20 paces. Finance Companies in the 70s (systematic, tough), professional firms in the 80s (no systems, too gentle) and, since then, just about every other sort of business you can think of. I’ve written books on the topic, spoken all over the place about it and the blog in this website is my way of “giving back”. I hope you find it helpful.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous November 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Great tips!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.