Invoice Cover Letter - Do’s and Don’ts
So you’re getting ready to send an invoice. Don’t forget to create an invoice cover letter too. What’s that, you ask? An invoicing letter is a really important part of your relationship with customers. It acts as an introduction to the invoice, explaining to the client who the invoice is for, what it’s all about, and what they can expect. It’s really an invoice letter for payment, softening the request for money and building a context around the invoice.
The cover letter for an invoice is also a great opportunity to strengthen your connection with the customer, and even throw in a nice personal message, if you like.
Still, there are some protocols to follow when creating an invoice cover letter, and an invoice overdue letter has its own set of rules. Let’s dive in and explore the do’s and don’ts of an effective cover letter.
Invoicing Letter Basics
There are a few basics that you’ll need to include in every invoicing letter. This is what sets the appropriate context for the invoice itself and creates a positive environment in which the customer can prepare to send the payment. Here are the main items you should not leave out of your invoice payment letter:
Your business details
When the customer sets eyes on the cover letter, they should instantly recognize who it’s from. You don’t want to create a scenario where they are wondering if the invoice was sent to the wrong person! Make sure to have your business logo, business name, and contact details appear clearly at the top of the letter.
For any type of letter, it is far better to address the recipient personally by name. Rather than relying on a boring, generic “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern”, take the time to include the name of the person who will be responsible for paying the invoice. This sets a human tone and will create a more positive feeling and response from the client.
If you don’t have the right email address, your invoice and cover letter won’t end up in the right hands. Make sure to have the correct email address of the relevant person (ie. the one who will be arranging the payment). This is a surefire way to speed up the process of getting paid.
You may need to send the invoice to multiple recipients, such as the client’s finance manager or secretary. That means you will need to send to more than one address. Communicate with the client to find out exactly who should be receiving your invoice cover letter and invoice.
Every invoicing letter sample must include the reference details of the invoice itself, so it will be instantly clear which payment you are talking about. This will certainly include the invoice number, the invoice date, and may also include a description of the invoice. The description can be very short, just a few words, or it could go into more detail that explains the different items in the invoice. How much detail you choose to include will depend on the client and the circumstances surrounding the specific invoice.
You may also need to include supporting documents in your invoice cover letter that explain or provide proof for various billing items. For example, if you are billing for third-party services, you can attach the receipts you already paid. Or if the invoicing letter is a request for the remainder of a partially paid invoice, you can include the previous invoice receipt to show how much they still owe. You might also attach the original price quote to demonstrate the accuracy of the invoice.
How to Write Your Invoicing Letter
Now that you know what you need to include in your invoice payment letter, the next question is: what is the correct tone to use? Should you be strictly professional (after all, you are asking them to pay a bill)? Or should you keep it friendly and light? This will really depend on the character of your business, the relationship with the customer, and the kind of impression you want to make. With regard to the tone of an invoicing letter sample, there’s really no right or wrong. There are however some do’s and don’t that you should adhere to.
Do address the client directly by name
Everyone prefers to be called by their name, and no one wants to be an anonymous someone on a list. Take care to use the recipient’s name. Whether you go for their first name or a more formal Mr/Ms format is up to you – this will depend on how casual you want to be in your cover letter for an invoice.
Do make it personal and not template-y
Even if you decide to go for a more formal tone, you should still make it personal. You might be using a template, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like one. Decorate with your logo, brand colors, and inject some warm and friendly sentences. There’s no rule that says you have to stick to the generic text provided in an invoice cover letter sample.
Do be friendly but firm
While it’s nice to be friendly to customers, don’t forget you are also asking for payment, and an invoice is not a request but a legal transaction. So make sure to use a warm tone, but don’t fudge around – make your payment terms clear. And don’t forget, you can be firm while also showing gratitude for the customer for choosing your freelance services.
Don’t have incomplete or inaccurate information
Your invoicing letter is an opportunity to set the stage for your invoice and encourage fast payment from the customer. Don’t jeopardize it by including wrong or incomplete information on your invoice cover letter. Make sure the cover letter accurately reflects the invoice itself. Otherwise, the customer will be confused and will need to clarify the matter with you. It also looks unprofessional and leaves a poor impression. In a cover letter for an invoice, accuracy is paramount!
Don’t sound like a robot
Many invoice cover letter samples sound robotic, like they were churned out by a computerized system. Don’t rely on the cover letter supplied by generic software. You can use it to help structure your cover letter if you need to, but make sure to inject your own messages and lose that robot sound. Or even better, write a letter from scratch. Then it will sound truly authentic and personal.
Don’t send reminders too close together
If the customer is overdue with payment, you’ll need to send reminder invoices, and these should come with cover letters of their own. But make sure not to send reminders too close together. Space your invoice outstanding letters to a minimum of a few days to a week, so you don’t come across as desperate or aggressive.
Invoice Letter Sample For Payment
Here are some important points to consider when crafting an effective invoicing letter:
Clear subject line
Having a short, clear subject line will help set the tone and context of the invoice while also allowing the customer the luxury of just quickly scanning the cover letter. Your customers are busy people too, so a strong subject line is helpful and appreciated.
Compose your invoicing letter with the words and phrases that will support the tone you want to create. If you are going for casual and friendly, you can use sentences like this: “It was great working with you on the X project!”. If you want to keep it more formal, perhaps you prefer to go with something like this: “I appreciate your custom and look forward to serving you again in the future.” The tone is completely up to you, but make sure it accurately reflects your business character.
Send copy to:
This is a really helpful and important feature to maintain organized accounts. You can send a copy to your accountant, assistant or anyone else you work with who might need to be in the loop. You can also send a copy to other parties on behalf of the customer if they request it. Instead of wasting time sending numerous invoicing letters, just add the email addresses in the invoicing software and it will automatically send a copy of the cover letter and invoice to any person you specify.
Inserting the correct date is really important as it acts as a record of when you sent the invoice and invoice cover letter. This becomes even more important when you are dealing with late payments and reminder letters for outstanding invoices.
The look and feel of a cover letter for an invoice can make the difference between “professional” and “rush job”. Make sure to include your logo and brand colors, and space the content evenly and attractively. Avoid making your cover letter look like a stern demand or payment warning – try to inject some fun and friendliness.
Invoice Outstanding Letter
So there’s an invoicing cover letter, and then there’s a cover letter when an invoice is outstanding. We are now entering new and different territory.
When payment is late, the customer needs to be reminded of this fact. Sometimes just once is enough, but sometimes a repeat performance is necessary. Each time, as the payment gets later and later, the invoicing cover letter must change the tone to reflect the situation. This can be done with the use of subject lines that point out the increasingly overdue payment. It can also be reflected in the invoice payment letter by a more assertive tone. Specify how overdue the payment is, and how many times you have already requested payment. You might need to get aggressive if the payment is overdue by a very long time. Make sure to remind the customer that they are in breach of your payment terms.
You can also specify a list of dates for each time a reminder invoice letter was sent, so they have a clear record of how many times you have reached out for payment.
Cover letter for an invoice - More important than you might think
An invoicing letter is not just a letter – it actually sets the stage for the customer to receive the invoice itself, so it plays an important role. Make sure to invest the necessary time and effort to make your invoice cover letter and invoice overdue letter stand out. And remember to follow the essential do’s and don’ts. That way, you’ll be setting up your invoicing in the best possible position to get paid on time, every time.