Billing is one of the most important activities for B2B companies. You can't get paid if you don't send your clients an invoice summarizing the services rendered and what they owe you.
While there are numerous different ways to send an invoice – through snail mail, email or a third-party online portal – you have to find the billing methods and practices that work best for both your clients and your business operations. Business News Daily asked industry experts for their advice on setting up a smart billing strategy.
Automate and digitize wherever possible
Raj Narayanaswamy, co-founder and co-CEO of employee time tracking solution Replicon noted that you should automate billing whenever possible.
"The quickest and easiest billing is done online," Narayanaswamy said. "Invest in an invoice/billing generation engine to automate the process and remove human error. Manual billing that relies on tracking down and collating paper timesheets, entering information in Excel, and manually checking for accuracy wastes valuable administrative time."
This also leaves room for errors and delays. Automating billing means getting rid of the vast majority of the potential for error and also saves money by eliminating extra administrative costs.
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Mitch Rose, SVP and general manager of payment solutions company Billtrust, adds that incorporating electronic methods that help automate the invoice-to-cash process can prove beneficial in the long-run for both accounts receivable and payable.
"Moving to digitization allows customers to pay whenever and wherever they are – which encourages faster payments and increases efficiency for your customers and your A/R team," Rose told Business News Daily.
He added that digitizing payments and invoicing saves on costs. Paper delivery costs double the amount of electronic delivery and slows down the entire process. Moving these processes online saves postage, paper and printing costs, and not to mention, time.
It's important to find an accounting solution that gives you and your team the ability to stay organized and keep an eye on all your outstanding invoices.
"Without access to a centralized view of invoices and bills, companies lack the ability to quickly determine what average payment time is, how much money is outstanding, how many invoices and follow-ups have been sent, which companies are frequently delinquent, and so on," Narayanaswamy told Business News Daily.
Make sure you're PCI compliant
If you accept electronic payments from your clients, it's critical to make sure your payment processor is compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standards. These globally recognized standards were created to protect consumers and keep their payment data secure. Rose noted that compliance with these standards is mandatory for any company accepting credit card payments.
"Not only is PCI compliance crucial for legal reasons, it also engenders trust with your customers," he said. "Businesses that have been breached see a loss of customers, damaged reputations and drops in stock price – not to mention the exorbitant costs to remedy the breach and then handle post-breach fraud claims and loss of revenue from feeling customer."
Rose added that being compliant is more important as businesses face the growing use of credit cards in B2B. Most companies turn to third parties that provide the payment portals and processes that allow them to accept electronic payments and be PCI compliant.
Clear communication during each phase of a project keeps clients and businesses on the same page in terms of payment expectations.
"Understanding the level of invoice detail a client needs from the beginning, creating proactive plans in case of scope creep, and keeping clients updated each step of the way can save considerable time and effort during the actual invoicing process post-project completion," Narayanaswamy said.
For more information on finding the right payment processing solution for you, visit Business News Daily's guide.