by Jim Finucan © 2001 Tiare Publications
Business-to-business debt collecting is a different ball game compared to collecting from an individual debtor. Once a business debtor has owed you for quite awhile it’s perfectly OK to take the gloves off and go all in an effort to get the Money. After all, things have reached the point where you wouldn’t do business with that outfit again anyway so you have nothing more to lose! But first, be clear about what your objective is: getting the balance owed to you paid in full. Don’t be willing to accept anything short of that. .
It’s OK to threaten legal action (if carried out, this would create a public record showing that this firm is stealing from you). Essentially you are going to be calling this person a thief to try and make him see himself as you see him and thus make him change his mind about paying you. You simply cannot be timid about it, nor can you approach the campaign half-heartedly. The debtor already has you figured as a pushover. He already has a catalog of excuses set-aside just for you, so it’s up to you to convince him otherwise. You have to have a mindset ready to sweep excuses aside and convince him you mean business.
First, be sure you’ve reached the right person. Don’t mess around with underlings or gatekeepers – they don’t cut the checks. You want the owner or the guy who authorized the purchase and is now telling someone else to ignore your invoices. Seek him out. Call him as often as you need to, even at home in the evenings if necessary. Let him know in words or tone of voice that you are angry, and don’t be overly concerned with business etiquette; it doesn’t apply here. In fact, the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not cover commercial transactions so you are pretty much free to try anything, although common sense suggests you avoid doing anything that would reflect badly on you or your firm.
Here are some examples you might want to use:
You received the product, now I want my money, and you’re going to pay it whether you want to or not
I have personal knowledge (if you do) of the assets you hold. Now how are we going to settle this?
Are you a man of your word?
What kind of operation are you running there?
Are you ripping off other people as well?
Would you say your conduct here is honorable? (With this one, be ready for the debtor to try some self- justification. This will reveal how he justifies his conduct. When you spot the excuse, point it out to him)
It’s imperative that you stamp out any objection or stall tactics he may try until you have him on the ropes. Then you can try to reason with him; just don’t waver in your insistence on full and complete payment.