Making collection calls is not something that most people relish. It is never easy chasing someone for money, and chasing debt can take up a lot of time. However, if a business does not keep a tight rein on its accounts receivable, it could find itself in a cash flow crisis. So, if you find chasing payment of overdue invoices a challenge, read on. Here are ten tips to help you make effective collection calls.

1. Actively Manage Receivables

You can reduce the number of collection calls you have to make if you actively manage your receivables. Indeed, you may even be able to get some customers to pay your invoices early. Start by making a courtesy call to ensure that the customer was happy with the products or services they bought from you, and make sure that you send all your customers a periodic statement of account.

2. Don’t Jump to Conclusions

If you have overdue invoices outstanding on your accounts receivable report, don’t assume that the customer is at fault. There may be a legitimate reason why the invoice has not been paid. The customer may not have received your invoice, or there may be a dispute over the amount payable. So, your first collections call should be to inquire if there is an issue with the outstanding invoice–plus, of course, to give a gentle reminder that the invoice is now overdue.

3. Gather All the Facts

If a sales invoice remains unpaid after your first call, it will be time to escalate the proceedings. Your second call is the beginning of the more official collection process. So, before you pick up the phone, make sure that you have the facts in hand. Have a copy of the invoice in front of you, along with any supporting documents such as delivery notes. When you are chasing someone for money, you don’t want to be hunting around for paperwork while you have them on the phone.

4. Be Firm, But Polite                                  

When you are making collection calls, it is always best to be firm, but polite. You want to ensure that your customer realizes that you are taking collections seriously. Still, you don’t want to lose a customer merely because they paid an invoice a few days late. The best way to broach the subject of late payment is to ask the customer if there is anything further they need from you. If the answer is no, then you can proceed to ask when you can expect payment.

5. Keep Your Cool

It is crucial not to lose your temper when you are chasing customers for payment. In some regions, there are laws against aggressive collection tactics, so be sure that you don’t overstep the mark. If you fail to stay calm and appear detached, the customer will think that you are desperate for the money. That could lead to damaging rumors about the stability of your company, and it will give the customer the upper hand if you must reach a negotiated settlement of the debt.

6. Stay in Control

Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated, and don’t fall for the usual excuses like, “the cheque is in the mail.” If the payment is allegedly in the post, then ask for the cheque number. If you are promised that the invoice will be paid on Wednesday, phone the finance department to confirm that is indeed the case.

7. Keep Notes

Always keep notes of what is said during your collection calls. Your notes will be useful to refer to should follow-up phone calls become necessary. You will need to know when and how much the customer promised to pay so that you can chase them if the promised payment does not materialize. You will also need your notes if there is a dispute later. Also, diarize your follow up calls so that you can stay on top of the collection process.

8. Offer Options

In the most challenging cases, you may need to offer extended payment terms to a supplier, or you may need to consider accepting an installment plan to settle the debt. Alternatively, you might be able to provide an alternative payment method, such as payment by credit card. Your goal is to get your invoices paid in full. However, if you suspect that the customer is facing financial difficulties, accepting a lower settlement value of an invoice would be better than receiving nothing at all.

9. Summarize What has Been Agreed

At the end of each collection call, you should summarize what has been agreed and promised. Your summary will include when payment is to be made and by what payment method. If the customer is vague about dates, try to tie them down to a specific date. As mentioned before, you want to stay in control of the process and not allow yourselves to be manipulated. So, it would be best if you tried to extract a firm commitment.

10. Follow Up Promises Not Met

Whenever a customer promises to pay and payment does not arrive, you should make a follow-up call as soon as possible. You may need to escalate the process from a reminder, through warnings, to legal action. How quickly you escalate your collection methods will depend on your relationship with your customer and the nature of the debt. However, the crucial thing is not to let up on the pressure, or your invoices will go back to the bottom of the pile. If you do not follow up on unmet promises, your supplier will take any threats of further action that you make less seriously.


Chasing debts is never easy, but hopefully the above tips will help you make your collection calls more fruitful. The crucial points to remember are to stay calm, make notes, and get a commitment from your customer.  Always make follow-up calls if the customer does not pay as promised.