The Zen Room

Your Customers Want to Pay You

I come bearing news that’s good, weird, and perhaps even a little bit shocking: Your customers want to pay you.

Take a minute and let that sink in. Let it rewire your brain a bit. They want to pay you. Not all of them, of course, but most of them. Probably 90+ percent. Understanding this simple truth can help you reorient your entire accounts receivable strategy so it’s not only friendlier, but also more effective.

When you realize that your customers want to pay you, it changes your entire vendor-customer relationship. You’re suddenly on the same team.

So, why do they want to pay you? Because it’s easier on them and it’s in their best interest. Realizing four months after the fact that they forgot to pay an invoice not only makes them look bad, but it also messes up their books. Any accountant using GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles)—and that’s pretty much all of them—wants to match each month’s costs with the activities that took place during that same time period. So getting a bill that goes against this month’s books for services received last month (or last quarter or even last year) is a tremendous pain.

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Your clients want to pay you, so it’s up to you to make it easy for them to do so and to keep it top of mind. In fact, if an invoice goes past due and you haven’t followed up, a customer will probably be frustrated with you. That’s right—the person who owes you money will be frustrated that you didn’t remind him or her to pay. So make sure you remind your clients and keep your invoice top of mind.

In order to feel comfortable doing this, you have to believe that you aren’t bugging them; you’re helping them. You’re making their lives easier by project-managing this one little task (paying you). Your clients are most likely overwhelmed, which means they’ll appreciate your being persistent and keeping them on task. After all, you’re on the same team now. You even have that secret handshake, remember? It’s weird, but you do it. You’re friends!

And here’s the beautiful part about knowing that your client really does want to pay you: Most vendors haven’t realized it yet. Do a Google search for “clients want to pay,” and you’ll find pages and pages of posts about why clients DON’T want to pay. This attitude is ubiquitous—and dead wrong. It creates unnecessary friction that will only make getting paid a more painful and inconsistent process. But when you treat your customers as though they want to pay, you’re differentiating yourself from 50 other vendors and invoices. Being on your client’s team isn’t just good for invoicing; it’s great for business.

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