By Daniel Wadleigh
Each of us is unique. This is true of merchants, ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs). Keeping this in mind as you plan your marketing strategies and sales programs will help you create the right presentation for each prospect.
Take a good look at your staff. Some people might be adept at setting appointments, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be good at closing.
Good management means recognizing the skills and talents of your people and getting the most out of each individual. If you manage a sales force, identify each person's strengths, including your own, and use them complementarily so your team can overachieve.
And match MLSs to the specific challenges at hand. For example, if you want to increase your business in a Korean neighborhood, send in someone who is familiar with the Korean language and culture to knock on doors. If you want to break into the medical sphere, hire someone who is comfortable with medical professionals.
When it's your turn to be in the field, sharpen your powers of observation. All aspects of marketing and sales are based upon being able to put yourself in the place of the decision makers you want to impress. The better you see things from their distinct points of view, the more your efforts will pay off.
Base your conclusions on what people tell you and what you observe. For example, if a prospect has a picture of her family by her computer and says she cannot meet with you on Thursday afternoon because she coaches her son's soccer team, you can conclude your prospect is an involved parent.
You might also surmise that physical fitness, the life lessons a person can learn from playing team sports and community involvement are important to this particular prospect.
These issues can stir strong emotions in your potential clients. And tapping those emotions in a meaningful way can be the catalyst that spurs someone to buy what you are offering.
The point is to observe, draw tentative conclusions and tailor your presentations based on those conclusions. While sex, ethnic identity and religion shape a person's life experience, it is best to avoid drawing conclusions based on these characteristics alone. Otherwise, you will be basing your communications on stereotypes, which is akin to trying to shave with a butter knife.
Part of adapting presentations to individual needs is brainstorming about what you think a particular prospect's objections to your offerings are likely to be.
There are two kinds of presentations: One sets out to cover all major objections as a matter of course; the other is highly flexible and responds to objections as prospects voice them, turning the objections into advantages.
Until we become expert at closing, the majority of us need to create presentations that cover all the perceived potential points of resistance, based on our knowledge of individual prospects at the time.
But don't try to cover every conceivable objection. Doing so would make for long, unwieldy, boring presentations. Overprepare, but don't go overboard.
And ask questions; listen to the answers; be interactive. You will learn exactly what your prospects want, as well as what they don't want. This will also demonstrate that you care about their desires and concerns.
In addition, incorporate interaction into your marketing materials. Asking visitors to your Web site to fill out a survey gives you an opportunity to collect useful information, including e-mail addresses.
And enlisting potential customers' assistance in this manner also fosters a bond between you and them, which can neutralize resistance and suspicion.
So, why have I talked about this? It's to drive home the point that people are different, and if you only have one way to prospect for business or do presentations, you will miss a percentage of potential customers. And why would you ever want to do that?
Daniel Wadleigh is a veteran marketing consultant in the payments industry. He offers an educational program that is available on a PowerPoint presentation and designed to help ISOs elevate themselves above the competition. For more information, please visit www.morenewcustomers.net.
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