how to ask for an account payment

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how to ask for an account payment

how to ask for an account paymentDon’t ask “Would you?” – ask “How?”  

People don’t like confrontation. Human Nature. & the best non-confrontational way to ask about an overdue account is not to say “Would you like to pay the fees today?”. If you do, you’re asking them a Closed Question. You’re asking them for a “Yes” or “No” reply. And, that gives them the chance to say … roll of drums … “No”!

Far better to say,
How would you like to pay today – cash, cheque or credit card?” Don’t give them the option of a yes or no answer. 
Give them the option of how to pay – today. Put them on the spot. It’s not rude. They still have choices, but not paying is simply not one of them! 
(Remember, we want to make it easy for them to pay and hard for them not to. They didn’t expect to be asked “How?”; that’s what’s so beautifully simple about asking in this way. It’s easy for the “asker”.)

Some will say they can’t pay today. 
That’s ok. All we need to know now is when they do intend to pay. Say “No problem. When do you feel you’ll be able to?” Please note the language. The word ‘feel’ is used this time. It’s friendlier way of asking. Less confrontational. But it’s also very direct. They don’t have the option of just wandering off without saying anything concrete. 

Note down what they say and let them see. 
Last thing. If the clients are with you in person, let them see you noting down their reply somewhere. On a piece of paper will do but do it while they’re still with you. If on the phone, let them know that you’re making a note of when they’ll be paying. That way you’ll have a here by date. It’s little things like that that make the big difference.
Everyone hates confrontation. Embarrassment is one of the keys you can use. (Get your receptionist to use this wording as well. Note how more comfortable she is when asking for payment like this.)

By | 2017-09-20T10:41:10+00:00 August 16th, 2011|telephone|4 Comments

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.


  1. Claire Sandbrook August 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Liked your approach!

  2. Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    This is a good approach if payment is due (or overdue). However, I have had this approach used on me in shops when I am still deciding and clearly have no obligation to purchase. In this context it is inappropriate and overly pushy. In other situations where it is more important to maintain the relationship or where there are extraneous circumstances preenting people/companies from paying it may also be considered overly pushy. So, the approach is good but it needs to fit the occasion.

  3. michael todd August 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Hi Anonymous! Couldn’t agree more. You’re quite right. Horses for courses. My post is addressing the issue of overdue accounts and where the creditor simply isn’t aware of any special circumstances. It’s a way to ask for payment in those situations or in a “Reception Desk” situation. Thanks for your comment. Appreciated. 🙂

  4. Joe Bryant January 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Good article. My best collectors always assume that a person wants to be honorable. People avoid arguments but they do enjoy being right. For example, it’s human nature to correct one another on wrong assumptions. Say you love accounting and I make the wrong assumption that you dislike working with numbers, you will likely correct me right away. Now apply that to being honorable and respectable. If I say to you: you’re probably not concerned with what others think of you, and you are, you’ll likely correct me. At which I’ll continue to reject your claim until you convince me otherwise. How can we use this human trait in our communication?

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