The Complete Guide For Payment Reminders For Your B2B Business
Apr 1, 2022
We all know the thrill of chasing a late invoice: trying to contact the client, finding the right words, and even wondering what would happen if your company ran out of cash… It’s definitely not the best part of the job. But it is an important part of it since about 70% of invoices are paid late in the US.
With invoices paid on time comes good cash flow management for your business - i.e. being able to grow at a fast speed. It also means you and your team’s time can be used for strategic actions instead of having to chase a late payment.
To be paid on time, the key is to be proactive. You know that - that’s why you’re here! In this guide, you’ll learn everything about payment reminders for your B2B business:
What strategy should you set up for your company specifically?
When to send reminders and what to put in them?
How to formulate payment reminder emails and letters that are friendly, yet assertive?
We’re also giving you free templates for you to use, straight from our A/R collection software. You can find these email templates (and more) on Upflow, as well as personalizable workflows to automate your payment reminders.
Determining the Right Payment Reminder Strategy For Your Business.
Your strategy to tackle late payments depends on various criteria:
What payment terms and payment methods you use,
What type of customers you have,
What market your business is in.
If you have a subscription-based SaaS with your customers paying monthly via direct debit, your strategy will be different than a company that requires yearly upfront payments via bank transfer.
Taking a moment to investigate which payment method your customers most use, and your late payment rate is a smart first step.
You might actually notice a few patterns there, like your clients who pay by bank transfer, are 10% more late than the ones who pay via direct debit. You might also find you have a few recurring late payers.
That’s all good data, as you’ll be able to create some sub-clients groups with a specific workflow for each. That alone increases your chances of being paid on time or at least knowing where exactly to focus your efforts.
At Upflow, we currently use 3 workflows for our payment reminders:
One for new users,
One for users who pay via credit card/direct debit (automated),
One for users who pay through bank transfer (manually).
To sum up, the right strategy for you is the one that matches with how you do business and who you do business with.
When to Send Payment Reminders?
Once you’ve mapped out which payment reminder strategy you need, you’ll be able to identify when to start sending reminders: it seems obvious, but it has to be after sending your invoice.
At Upflow for example, our payment due date is on the day they are issued. This means we cannot send a payment reminder before they’re due, as the invoice hasn’t been created yet.
If you issue invoices with a 30 days payment due date, then sending a payment reminder (or several) before the due date makes sense - and is even encouraged!
Here is what we recommend:
1st notification: original invoice,
1st follow-up: 7-10 days before the payment due date (if applicable),
2nd follow up: on the due date (if applicable),
3rd follow up: a week past due date,
4th follow up and thereafter: an action every week.
It might seem like a lot, but once more, being proactive is what makes all the difference. By doing this, you also show your clients that you mean business. Being assertive is key! Then, of course, it all depends on the kind of relationship you have with them.
What Medium to Use For Payment Reminders?
While the typical payment reminder comes via email, we recommend adding some variety to your process to make it more efficient.
Emails are great for informing and might be enough for some clients who are most reactive.
Sometimes - if you want an immediate answer for instance, or all your follow-up emails have been unanswered - it might be quicker to (gasp) pick up the phone. After all, you might have the wrong email address registered, or they might have a problem with their payment system.
Our CFO, Claire Somer, is a big advocate of this. In her experience, some sticky situations can be solved swiftly with a phone call.
Lastly, when all else fails, issuing a payment reminder letter and posting it to them is a way to escalate things officially. Nowadays, receiving a letter is so rare that they should take notice of its content. Plus, it adds a sense of urgency and seriousness to the matter.
That’s why you have the option to send a letter to your client directly through Upflow.
What to Include in a Payment Reminder Email?
Making sure your client has all the correct and relevant information in their payment reminders is essential for timely payments. Here are some elements we recommend including in all of your communications:
Original invoice (linked to or attached to email) with invoice number, amount due, and due date.
Balance of outstanding payment: it’s useful for your client to summarize their current balance and mention which of them are due today.
Late fees: if you have interest charges on your outstanding invoices, it is good to remind your client of them in your communications.
Payment options: a link and/or your bank account number (IBAN), with specific instructions so they can pay you straight away.
Personal touch: use your client's name and/or their company name as a minimum. You can also open up your email by referring to the last time you spoke. The more personal, the better.
Your contact information: make sure your name and eventually your phone number are clearly listed so they can contact you easily.
Include these elements in all your written communications - and preferably in your invoices, too, as both can be separated on their way to the accounting department.
If you have a phone conversation with them, make sure to have this info in front of you before you pick up the phone. Send it to them by email right after your chat too: it serves as a summary of your conversation and a prompt to follow through right away.
Since we’re only humans (and to be gentler) we also like to include a caveat like “unless we’re mistaken” so they can ignore our message if they’ve already paid.
As for the payment reminder subject line, you can use the invoice number with the due date. As you follow up, you can add things like “3rd reminder” in the subject line so they can notice the gradual escalation even without opening your email.
As for the tone of your emails, we like to aim at gentle reminders. Business is about relationships and you don’t want to ruin the efforts your company put into fostering it. As you send your follow-up emails, remain civil while conveying the increasing seriousness of the matter.
Using the words “legal” usually does the trick - and we’ll see more about which other words to use specifically in the next part!
5 Payment Reminder Email Templates.
Payment Reminder for Credit Card Failure.
Depending on your business model, you might have clients paying you directly via credit card. That usually limits the number of unpaid invoices, as it is done automatically on the due date.
In a few cases, however, payment can fall through. If that happens, it can be for one of two reasons:
Credit card problem (it expired, reached its spending limit, or something else),
Bank account problem (i.e. the money isn’t in your client bank’s account).
When that happens, we like to send a first email that mentions the former reason, as it is more likely to be the cause of the overdue invoice.
If it is the latter, your client will check with their bank anyway, so it’s a good friendly reminder that you know their online payment didn’t go through.
Here is a template you can use:
Follow-up email template for credit card failure:
Hello (Client name),
We’re reaching out regarding the payment of your invoice (invoice number) for a total of (invoice amount) due on the (due date).
We would appreciate a swift payment upon receipt of this email. You can do so by updating your payment method by clicking on this link.
You will find a copy of the invoice in question attached to this email. Please let us know if you have any questions or problems.
Please also note that your account balance currently stands at (XXX). If you have already paid, please ignore this notice.
(Your contact info)
Payment Reminder for Bank Transfer.
Clients who pay you via bank transfer can have higher late payment rates, as their invoice payment may not be automated. Owners of small businesses especially can be endangered while waiting for invoice payments as their cash flow is vital. These business owners often have to issue more than one payment reminder to get paid.
It makes sense, in this case, to not only send a payment reminder after the due date, but also before.
Where it is possible, you could ask your clients to switch to credit card or automated payments. It makes sense, especially if you have a subscription-based business.
Meanwhile, here is an email reminder template:
Second follow-up email:
Hello (Client Name),
We are reaching out again regarding your overdue invoice awaiting payment: invoice number (XXX) of (XXX) was due on (due date).
FYI, your account balance currently stands at (XXX), of which (XXX) are overdue.
Unless mistaken, we still haven’t received payment for the above. You will find the relevant invoices attached to this email.
We would appreciate a swift payment to settle this matter. To pay this invoice, you can (payment instructions).
We are also available to discuss any issue you may have.
(Your contact info)
Payment Reminder for Sales Executives.
It is a good business practice to involve your sales team or account managers team in your A/R collection process. That’s why Upflow can be used by different users in your company, as we know it increases collaboration and efficiency.
For one, they are the ones who have an already established relationship with your client. They know them personally, and have possibly met face-to-face. It makes matters easier, especially if your client experiences a problem with your product or service.
It’s also a good way to focus your sales strategy around getting paid, instead of just signing deals. At Upflow, it is our Account Executives’ job to collect payment of the first invoice with a new client. It helps crystallize the deal and to make sure the transition to the accounting department is swift.
All this contributes to making sure everyone knows that revenue matters a lot in a company.
To help you and your sales team, here is a template you can use:
Follow-up email invoice reminder for account executive:
Hello (Client Name),
(Personal touch: refer to a project they’re working on or a recent holidays for instance)
I’m coming back to you regarding our invoice (invoice number) of (XXX) due on (invoice due date). Unless I’m mistaken, we haven’t received a payment for it yet.
Can you confirm that this invoice has been recorded by your accounting department and give us an estimated payment date?
As a reminder, you can pay by (payment instructions).
I’m happy to answer any questions or problems you have about our (service/product), by email or phone call.
(Your contact info)
Payment Reminder for Late Payers.
We all have late payers. While it is a reality of being in business, it can be managed with 2 steps:
Know your clients: knowing who your late payers are, and if they have some common elements, can help tremendously in your A/R collection process. For example, they might have different business or cultural practices.
Set up relevant workflows: with the insights collected in step one, you can now decide what proactive strategy makes sense to you.
One straightforward way to tackle this is to send more invoice reminders, before and after the due date. Another option is to prompt them to switch to automated payment. You can also make sure to carve out some time to give them phone calls.
We’re giving you templates with a more assertive and specific wording for late payers:
Email template for late payers - a week before invoice due date:
Hello (Client Name),
This is a reminder that your invoice (invoice number) of (XXX) is due next week. We trust you will take the necessary actions for a timely payment.
You can pay by (payment instruction).
(Your contact info)
P.S: to stop receiving reminders, you can switch to automated payment by (payment instruction).
Email template for late payers - a week after invoice due date:
Hello (Client Name),
Following up on my previous email, I am contacting you about the outstanding invoice: (invoice number) for (XXX)
As this invoice was due last week, could you update me on its current payment status?
You will find a copy of the invoice attached to this email. As a reminder, you can pay us by (payment instructions).
(Your contact info)
Payment Reminders for CFO:
Some situations call for more drastic actions, like getting the CFO or even the CEO involved in your invoice collection process.
Of course, not every late invoice deserves this kind of escalation. At this level of the company, it doesn’t make sense for a CEO/CFO to be spending their time tracking each and every late invoice.
But occasionally, it can unblock a situation - especially if it is sent directly to the CFO/CEO of your client’s company.
Before escalating the matter, however, make sure you have already taken the necessary steps to remind them of the invoices and have the correct information available.
Email template for non-payment CFO escalated:
Dear (Sir or Madam),
Despite several reminders, your company has not paid yet the following invoices that are past due:
(List of invoices with reference numbers, amount and due date)
You will find a copy of the aforementioned invoices attached to this email.
We, therefore, demand that you proceed to the payment of (XXX) within (timeframe).
Otherwise, we would have to take the matter in front of (the proper jurisdiction / a collection agency) and ask for compensation for our financial loss.
We look forward to hearing from you,
(Your contact info)
How to Avoid Overdue Payments In the First Place.
Payment reminder email templates are good, but not as good as having them automated. Sounds like a dream? Not if you use an Accounts Receivable software that automates payment collection for you! It's one of the many ways to improve your Accounts Receivables process.
Upflow allows you to automate and personalize your payment reminders, so you don’t have to keep writing the same email. Plus, we send you a reminder when it’s time to send your client a reminder (very meta, we know).
Concretely, automating your collection and payment reminder process means
Fewer manual tasks and fewer errors: no more spreadsheets, and no more chasing the latest or most accurate information. Upflow integrates with your billing, accounting, subscription management apps, and even your CRM - everything is connected for maximum efficiency.
More time to dedicate to the clients who need specific attention: you can’t automate phone calls and personal attention - nor should you aim to! A software like Upflow allows you to create different client groups depending on how late their payment is overdue. You can also leave internal notes for your team.
More time for strategic actions: your whole business benefits from being paid on time, and no doubt they have higher-value tasks to complete than to track late payments.
Software like Upflow usually offer other features that help you manage your Accounts Receivables and make your life easier. For example, we offer comprehensive dashboards with real-time data as well as a dedicated payment portal for each customer.
Being proactive about overdue payments is essential! We recommend setting up specific, clear and rigorous processes for payment collection and to stick to them.
Attributing each task to a specific person (including a sales or account executive) assures there is a clear course of action.
We advise one payment reminder action every week. Picking up the phone often resolves sticky situations quickly.
Make sure to include relevant and up-to-date information in your communications, as well as instruction for payment. The easier you make it for them to pay you, the quicker it’ll be done!
You can set up different workflows for different scenarios or clients. Having specific email templates speeds up your process.
Using an A/R automation tool like Upflow makes your collection process more efficient, so you get paid on time. Over time, it can help you decrease your overdue payment rates