What you Need to Include on a B2B Invoice
Sales invoices may appear to be relatively straightforward documents. However, if you omit certain crucial pieces of information, it could cause payment delays.
A sales invoice is not usually considered to be a marketing document. However, business to business (B2B) invoices will usually land on someone’s desk with purchasing power for approval. So, a smart-looking, accurate invoice will form a part of the overall impression that a customer gets of your business.
In some countries, there are also statutory requirements regarding the information that must appear on invoices. So, it would be wise to check your region’s regulations to ensure that you do not fall foul of any local requirements. If you are exporting products, you will also need to check the destination country’s invoicing requirements.
Local requirements aside, what are the essential pieces of information that you need on a sales invoice? Here are ten items that would be best to include on all your sales invoices.
1. Your Business Details
At the top of every invoice, you will, of course, need your company details. Company information includes the name and address of the business and contact details like telephone numbers and relevant email addresses. Ideally, the contact details will be those of the people who will answer any queries about the invoice. You will also need to include statutory information in some countries, like company and tax registration numbers. As mentioned above, your invoices create an impression of your business. So, it would be advisable to brand your invoices with your company logo.
2. The Word Invoice
The word invoice should be printed big and bold at the top of your sales invoices. Making it clear what the document is will ensure that your sales invoices are treated as such and passed to the finance department for payment.
3. The Date of the Invoice
Your payment terms will likely be so many days from the date of invoice. So, the date you raised a sales invoice should also feature prominently because that date will determine how quickly you are paid. Larger organizations that impose their own payment terms will also likely pay a set number of days from the invoice date.
4. A Unique Invoice Number
Every sales invoice you issue should have a unique reference number. The invoice number will help you identify the invoice when you need to find it or discuss it with your customer. There is no set numbering format for invoices, and you don’t have to begin at number one. Many companies start their invoice numbering sequence at a higher number to make it appear that they are a more well-established business.
5. Your Customer’s Contact Details
Your invoices must have the name and address of your customer displayed prominently at the top of the document. Even if you send your invoices electronically, it is best to show the full customer address in case the invoice goes astray. Invoices sent to a large company will likely go to the finance department first. Still, it is best to include the name of your contact in the company to ensure that your invoice gets routed to the right person for approval.
6. List of Services or Products Supplied
You will need to list all the products or services supplied in the body or table section of an invoice. It is best to keep the descriptions in this section relatively short. However, product or service descriptions need to be clear enough for your customer to verify that they have received the items on the invoice.
7. Unit Prices, Weights, and Quantities
The table area of a sales invoice should also include the number of units supplied, the unit price, the date of supply, and a total for each line. You don’t want to overcrowd a sales invoice with too much unnecessary information. However, you do want to provide enough information so that your customer can quickly check your invoice against their records.
8. Purchase Order Numbers and Other References
Large companies may insist that you have a valid purchase order number on your sales invoices. So, it is best practice to include this information on each line of your invoices. If you issued a quotation in advance of shipping goods or providing a service, it would be a good idea to refer to these documents as well. If the invoice represents part-fulfillment of a contract, the contract reference number will help get your invoice processed faster.
9. Payment Terms
It is best to clearly state your payment terms on the face of every sales invoice. If you offer early settlement discounts, this too should be noted. And, of course, the total amount of the invoice should be in no doubt, either. So, make sure that the invoice total is another big and bold piece of information on all your sales invoices. It doesn’t do any harm to appeal to people’s better nature, too. Including a message along the lines of “prompt payment would be very much appreciated” might get your invoice paid a little faster.
10. Payment Methods
Finally, you will need to tell your customers how they can pay your invoices. Include your bank details if you expect payment straight to your bank, and provide details of other means of payment if you offer them. Large companies will generally always pay by check or bank transfer. Small businesses, though, may prefer to pay by credit card or PayPal. So, the more payment methods you offer, the better. Remember to amend the payment instructions if you are using a factoring company.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, sales invoices need to be brief and relatively formal documents. They need to contain all the reference numbers and detail that your customer will need to verify the purchase and process payment according to your payment terms. Most crucially, you don’t want to leave the door open for any excuses for late payments by omitting important information. Make your customer’s life easier, and they will pay your sales invoices faster.
About Universal Funding
Universal Funding is a private funding source that has funded thousands of businesses and more than $2 billion since 1998. We turn your accounts receivable into the funding you need through invoice factoring and can have capital in your hands in a matter of days.