How to Gracefully Make the Final Threatening Collection Call
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How to Gracefully Make the Final Threatening Collection Call


When the traditional strategies for making collection calls to clients isn’t working, you need to begin taking the next steps to collect the overdue payment.

Your first collection call was a friendly reminder that the payment was overdue, and you created a plan with your client to get the invoice paid. Next, you followed up to find out why the agreed-upon plan wasn’t followed. You may have even made a call to her superior or someone else on her team to try to get the invoice paid.

What can you do so you don’t keep wasting your time on this client?

Up Your Game

The time for being friendly has passed. At this point, this client is refusing to pay for the goods or services you rendered. This is unacceptable, and you need to let them know.

The next course of action for you will be to send the dispute to a collections agency, small claims court, or another legal measure. Remain professional and emotionless in this phone call, even as you threaten to take further action.

  • “At this point, I feel there is no option but to put this matter in the hands of our collection agency, which will negatively affect your company’s credit rating.”
  • “If we don’t receive the payment in full this week, I am going to need to report this to the IRS as ‘bad-debt loss.’”
  • “How can we work together to solve this problem today?”

Of course, don’t state these consequences with no intention of following through. First make sure you are ready and willing to take the next step if you don’t receive an immediate payment.

One More Reminder

Since you specified the terms of payment in your original contract, this conversation is a good time to mention this fact. You can remind the client of the specific language that was used in the initial contract she signed.

For example:

  • “In the contract we signed on March 3rd, there was a clause that said, ‘Final payment of the balance is payable upon receipt of invoice.’ As we discussed in our last conversation, you received that invoice on May 1st.”
  • “The contract also specified, ‘A 5% late fee will be applied to the balance after 30 days.’ That’s why the amount due right now is X.”

This tactic works well because it reinforces that you are being the professional; you’re simply trying to adhere to the contract. Since the client signed this contract and (hopefully) read it first, this should not be news to her. Appealing to her sense of responsibility to her word may help eke out a payment – or a binding agreement to pay in installments.

No Excuses

At this point in the collections process, you need to get paid. Today.

Don’t accept excuses for the late payment, and don’t let the person off the phone without informing them of the consequences of further delinquency. (If you get the person’s voicemail, leave a message that you need to speak to them and follow up immediately with an ultimate demand email.) Preferably, you should come to the mutual conclusion that the client will wire you the payment, in full, that very day.

But regardless of the agreement you come to, this call needs to let the client know that you will follow through on this debt, rather than letting it fall through the cracks.

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