If the thought of an uncomfortable meeting with your client makes your stomach hurt, you're probably already shuddering at the title of this post. Invoice disputes usually mean that the client owes you money and is simply unwilling to pay what you're asking. Is it possible to figure out a solution to this situation with an in-person meeting?
Should you handle an invoice dispute in person?
Why Meet in Person?
Research professor and author Brené Brown is quoted as saying, "People are hard to hate close up. Move in."
Consider a situation like an unpaid invoice. It is obviously going to create stress as the missing funds have also impacted your business payments to other vendors and expenses. The first reaction of most people under stress is frustration and anger. It's easy to take it personally - especially with correspondence over email or phone.
Meeting in person may take away some of the space between you and your client. Being in someone's physical space may soften you or your client contact's initial reaction. In fact, it may even alter the situation altogether.
How to Prepare for an In-Person Client Meeting
Gather evidence: Before even scheduling a meeting, be sure of your side of the conflict. Gather all evidence of the client's agreement to the deal. Documents such as a signed contract, notes about correspondence, emails and invoices are all necessary to make your case. Talk to your sales team to see if there was some confusion about what was offered. Provide proof that your team delivered on the client's expectations. You may not have to show this proof but at least you're prepared.
Double check payment terms: Many invoices are disputed because of a confusion about payment terms. Are the payment terms included in your contract with the client or listed clearly on the invoice?
Try a friendly approach: Before choosing to meet your client in person, try contacting them with friendly reminders that their invoice is past due. They may have missed the original invoice or were unaware that the due date has passed.
Come bearing gifts: Bringing donuts or offering lunch to a client who owes you money may seem counterintuitive but a nice gesture goes a long way. During the holidays, it's also a good time to "randomly show up" in the office with a box of cookies. It gives you an excuse to stop by, shows the client that your relationship matters and... oh by the way, remind them of a past due invoice.
Be prepared to meet halfway: An in-person meeting should not intimidate your client. The value of a quality business relationship is at stake and an in-person meeting shows that you're there to resolve your differences. Can you make arrangements with your client to pay off the debt over time? Is there a minimum amount that you'd settle for? Are you prepared to make any concessions to meet your client's wishes to fix the situation?
What to Do If an In-Person Meeting Won't Work
If you know for a fact that no amount of negotiating will convince this client to pay or if your meeting didn't meet your expectations, a professional business-to-business negotiator may be exactly what's needed.
Third-party collections is available to contact and work with the client on your behalf. They'll need all of the evidence that you've already gathered and they'll make the uncomfortable phone calls to get you paid. The best part, you don't owe the collections agency a dime unless they get your client account resolved.
If the thought of handling an invoice dispute in person is too scary or if your client is absolutely unwilling to pay you, let Enterprise Recovery do the work for you.
Contact us to help you get paid!