The art of the invoice follow-up.

How to politely — but firmly — request your invoice payment.

Chances are, if you’ve emailed an invoice to your client and they haven’t paid, it’s an honest mistake that slipped their mind. In that case, a polite reminder email might be all you need to do. Yet other times, customers may just simply stop responding and you’re left wondering where they went and how you’ll get paid. Try these steps for following up if you don’t know where to start.

Politely request your invoice payment.

The way you request your invoice payment is different depending on your situation.

  1. Has your client seen the invoice? Your first step should be an email confirming they’ve received the invoice. Gently note that the invoice is past due, ask if they received the email, and check to see if they have any questions about what was included in the invoice. Make sure you re-attach the PDF.
  2. Firmly request payment. Follow up with one more firm email. This is a great opportunity to point out any late fees you outlined in your initial invoice. Make sure you re-attach the invoice again, so that there’s no excuse for your customer to miss it.
  3. Call your client. If you’re still not hearing anything, pick up the phone and get in touch the old-fashioned way. Remain polite and understanding, yet firm in your terms of payment. Try to secure payment over the phone, or, if that’s not possible, try to get a commitment on the date and method of payment.
  4. Pause sales or cut off work. If you don’t receive any follow-up after that call and you’re in the middle of a project, let your client know that you’ll be pausing sales or stopping further work until invoice payment. If the project has concluded, you can cut future work with this client or decline to provide any future sales. If this still doesn’t work, you might consider taking legal action — especially if you wrote a legally binding contract.

Create high-powered documents.

Moving forward, make sure that your work contracts have legally binding payment clauses so that any gentle reminders of enforcement have more teeth. Create legally binding contracts and enforceable invoices with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with e-sign.