After The Sale: Invoicing and Collecting From Enterprise Clients
Updated: Nov 2
Are your invoices not getting paid? Does it seem like you’re waiting for weeks, or even months, and not knowing if you invoice is in your new client’s system? Do you wish you knew how to accelerate collections without stepping on the A/P Department’s toes?
Your Client Really Does Want to Pay You
It’s not that your enterprise customers don’t want to pay you. The fact is, they’re busy... they have a process in place… and you probably didn’t follow it. But there’s a good chance that it’s not anybody’s fault.
In fact, having a streamlined invoicing/payment process is one of the most important tasks of running a business. Because we have vast expertise in running accounting systems for enterprise clients of all sizes, we can recommend some easy-to-follow, straightforward techniques that can be used to put a process into place to keep the cash flowing into your business.
Collecting Accounts Receivable Is Often Neglected at Startups
Collecting accounts receivable is obviously a high priority, but it most often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There are a variety of reasons for this. Perhaps your company has a huge cash balance from recent funding, or maybe you’re a super lean start-up just getting your initial revenue without a designated role to manage this process.
Regardless of your financial situation, you need a disciplined collection effort, or you’ll likely suffer down the road. In addition to your Board of Directors wondering why A/R is so high, –– customers may run into financial issues, your customer contact may move on, or any of several other scenarios that make delayed collection difficult. More troubling is that means your effective burn rate will be higher and will not look as attractive as you go for your next round of funding. Furthermore, if revenue and booking numbers slide, you’re going to take a valuation hit and that’s not a fun conversation anyone ever wants to have.
How You Can Easily Accelerate Collections
Large enterprises have a lot of transactions to deal with –– often dozens or even hundreds per day –– so they must have firm controls in place before they pay any invoice.
To do this, they use Purchase Orders (POs) or Statements of Work (SOWs). These are simply their agreement to make the purchase of what you sold them. The PO is stored in their system waiting for an invoice so someone in A/P can match it. There could also be another approval of the invoice, but often it is just paid if the details line up.
The majority of enterprise accounting departments have to follow this process so make it easy for them.
Follow The Rules
To get paid in a timely manner, get the information you need and the information they want up-front. Salespeople can do it, though it’s typically someone from Sales Operations or an Accountant.
Remember to ask the following questions:
What is your company’s procurement process?
Do you use Purchase Orders or Statements of Work?
To whom should we send the invoice? Who should we cc?
Do you have an approved vendor form?
What is your typical payment cycle for a vendor like me – 15, 30 or 45 days?
Should I provide a W-9 Form to speed up the process?
Then follow their system:
Become an approved vendor.
Submit the invoice with the correct information to match the PO or SOW.
Send it to the right people or upload it into their system via the procurement software they use.
But Wait… There May Be Even More Steps to Take
These steps may take care of the problem for invoices not getting paid, but for many companies, you may not be done yet. Because if this is a first sale or invoice to a new customer, it can be a good idea to check in prior to the due date and ask if everything is in order.
Be polite of course and, again, make it easy for them by following their system. The enterprise you’re working with is usually sincere in their desire to pay you. There may be a time to get firm, but that should be after the due date and after all reasonable conditions have been met by you.
By following these steps, you will likely accelerate collections and reap the benefits. More importantly, you’ll avoid the common pitfalls of accounting –– having them never receive your invoice, not having the required information on the invoice, and avoiding the circumstance where that invoice is stuck in someone’s inbox while they trek across the globe, or may have even moved to a new company.
If you need help with SaaS focused accounting, financial due diligence, financial projections and more, let’s talk.