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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 10, 2008 • Issue 08:11:01

Street SmartsSM

A closer you'll become

By Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services

Wouldn't you love to learn how to close deals quickly, easily and efficiently? Think about it. Closing is one of the most powerful skills you could ever learn in sales. Why? Because it's never the selling that puts money in your bank account - it's closing the deal.

And the secret to closing is you. You need to be closed - to sell yourself as a closer - before you can effectively close merchants.

When I was new to the industry and struggling in the field, I had a few weaknesses. First of all, I was not closing deals. In other words, I wasn't asking for sales and bringing the merchants to a decision.

Secondly, I was thinking more about myself than the merchant. Then I came to realize that a closer's goal is to help people make decisions that are good for them.

A solid foundation

The first step in your sales career starts with a self-interview. To achieve sales greatness and enter the upper echelon of earners, first be passionate about who and what you're representing - from the company you work for to the product you're selling.

For example, if you sell cars, you should love automobiles. If you sell houses, you should have a genuine, passionate interest in real estate. As ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) our niche falls within the payments industry.

What we do is facilitate credit and debit card, gift card, and check transactions and other unique forms of payment at the POS. Do you love being part of it?

Now, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it I'm selling? This is not just a list of products and services. What are the underlying benefits associated with them?

  • How does or how could my product or service help end-users?

  • What specific value am I bringing to merchants?

  • Are my merchants better off before or after I make the sale? Why?

  • Am I, or can I become, truly passionate about what I'm doing?

The vision thing

Answers to these questions must be positive and detailed for you to become truly successful in your field. You must answer the tough questions forthrightly, have clarity about your own value as an MLS and understand how the product you're selling positively affects the marketplace. You need to offer solutions that merchants want to buy, not sell services just to receive a commission. What I believe or what anyone around you believes is not nearly as important as what you believe. A top achiever is a visionary. Visionaries believe in order to see, they do not see to believe.

To achieve optimum results and become a top producer, you need to see yourself as such. Perhaps your goal is to become a one-call closer.

If that's the case, you need to become, in your mind's eye, that seller who overcomes a merchant's initial sales resistance, gives a powerful presentation, surmounts all objections and closes the sale on the spot.

When you commit to pushing past your insecurities and seeing yourself as a closer, a closer you will become.

Remember this

I started my very first business-to-business, direct sales position in the spring. In February of the next year, I attended my company's annual conference. In addition to featuring many inspiring speakers, it included an awards ceremony celebrating the success of top achievers.

To my surprise, I was given the "rookie rep of the year" award; I had no idea such recognition was coming. But confirmation of a job well done through public acknowledgement was very motivating.

Approximately 800 sales agents were there. I distinctly remember that an attractive young lady from Richmond, Va., was named salesperson of the year.

The next morning I was speaking with her and the regional manager of her office. I asked her how she accomplished such a goal. She was rather modest and attributed her success to hard work and focused aggression.

Her manager added that, at the previous year's award ceremony, all 800 attendees probably thought about being introduced as the salesperson of the year. Many likely set this achievement as a goal, he said. However, only one person thought about it every day and did what it took to make that goal a reality.

The focus, drive, commitment and, more importantly, the vision never left her mind. It was crystal clear to me why she achieved the high honors that night.

The rush leads to riches

I love sales. It is among the greatest professions on the planet. True sales professionals can earn astonishing wages, take wonderful vacations, budget time for their childrens' tee ball games and create a multitude of rewarding relationships.

Additionally, for those of us who really love the profession, there's still a rush associated with leading a prospect to a decision.

Most people have a sincere desire to succeed. The question is often not desire, but rather willingness to pay the price for success. That's right, top producers in any field are top producers because they do things the average person is unwilling to do.

You may say, "Jason, are you kidding me? It cannot possibly be that simple." You need to understand what I'm saying. Significant achievement requires more than a simple desire to succeed. It requires a commitment to follow the time-tested, proven plan that works in your industry.

It may necessitate putting in a few additional hours of planning and preparation before the average MLSs show up in the morning for work. It will require working longer, harder and smarter than the MLS beside you.

Throughout years of training thousands of sales professionals, I have always said I would much rather have a committed person with an unshakable work ethic and average talent than a person with exceptional talent and a merely average work ethic.

Keep emotions in check

How many of you know that selling involves transference of emotions? If the emotions you are transferring to merchants are selfish (my light bill, phone bill, car payment and rent are all due this week, so I sure hope this poor sucker signs), obviously, you are not truly considering what's best for merchants.

Has anyone ever been there? Come on. If you're breathing and have been in sales for more than two days, you know what I'm talking about. First, do what Zig Ziglar says and "change your stinking thinking" and "give yourself a checkup from the neck up."

Do that by copying the following statement onto an index card and reading it to yourself before every sales call:

    I am here to serve my clients well. If I can find their needs and meet their needs, then I fully expect them to do business with me today. If I determine my offering is not what's best for them, I am committed to walking away.

    I will not think of my personal gain, as my increase will be a direct result of the value I bring to my clients. I am building a million dollar portfolio, and I will bring my clients to a decision.

When you put your merchants' needs above your own, a bond of trust will form. Then, you'll receive the increase you desire - guaranteed. When you can imagine the outcome, you can imagine the income.

The closing process

Remember, the close is not an act, but a process. From the moment you walk in as a closer, you're closing. Remember the distinction between selling and closing. Salesmen often struggle; closers get rich.

Imagine walking into a merchant's business and, after a few seconds of getting acquainted, you start your presentation like this:

    Well Joe, as you know, I'm here to see if we can add enough value to your credit card processing program, including saving you some money and providing you better service at the same time.

    What I want to promise you, Joe, is that I am going to review your statement, ask you some questions and truly determine if you would be better off with me. If so, I'm going to ask for and expect your business.

    However, if I cannot truly help you, I want you to know, upfront, that I will be honest enough to let you know that. Sound fair?

Bang. Right from the inception of your meeting, you're closing. How many people would say, "No, that doesn't sound fair"? Not one.

And you can adapt this approach for a variety of offerings - check processing, free equipment placement, gift card program, Internet protocol service and so forth.

The next step: Do what you say. Review Joe's statements and ask enough questions to find a way to help him. You and he are now committed to finding a valid reason for him to do business with you.

Give Joe the presentation of his life, full of excitement and enthusiasm. If you aren't excited to be there, he won't be excited to have you there.

Let's take a moment to define what closing means. Closing is:

  • Being able to dramatically elevate who you are as a person at that moment so your confidence and closings soar.

  • Being so passionate about what your client wants, needs, and dreams that you and your needs disappear. This is where the magic of the close begins.

  • Capturing your clients in the excitement of the moment so that what you are selling is what they need and can't do business without.

  • Listening to what your client is saying and not just trying to tell them what you think they want to hear. This is the number one reason most salespeople do not close deals. You must learn to listen with an intent to understand what your merchants are looking for.

  • Concluding your presentation logically and forcefully. Your prospects should expect you to invite them to become your merchants.

  • Understanding prospects are not responding to you when a close fails but, rather, they are weighing their own needs and concerns and concluding you're product or service does not meet their needs.

  • Bringing a solution to the marketplace that fills a genuine need.

  • Leading merchants to make decisions. You'll make millions if you can get them to say yes or no. Maybes are the death of salespeople.

  • Knowing that closing isn't selling, and selling isn't closing.

    In closing

    In my next article, I will provide examples and techniques for actual closes used in the payments industry. Until then, take a word of advice from selling guru Tom Hopkins.

    He said, "I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed; and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying." The Green Sheet, Inc.

    Jason A. Felts is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida-based Advanced Merchant Services Inc., a registered ISO/MSP with HSBC Bank. From its onset, AMS has placed top priority on supporting and servicing its sales partners. The company launched ISOPro Motion, its private-label training program, to provide state-of-the-art sales tools and actively promote the success and long-term development of its partners. For more information, visit www.amspartner.com, call 888-355-VISA (8472), ext. 211, or e-mail Felts at jasonf@gotoams.com.

    Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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