By Daniel Wadleigh
Underlying every sale (or missed sale) is the value system of a particular customer. As an ISO or merchant level salesperson, it's important to understand what a prospect deems valuable about a product or service - and then appeal to that value system in your sales pitch.
Here are five magical questions for unveiling a customer's hidden value system:
The answers to the first three questions will reveal what merchants want from a processor, the methods they use for choosing a processor and whether assurance of value is the overriding factor in making a selection.
Questions four and five are potential follow-ups that mine a little deeper if a merchant stays on the fence. For example, if your buyer answers no to question three, the next two questions might prompt him or her to reconsider by appealing further to that person's value system and asking more explicitly what would help seal the deal.
Once you've uncovered somebody's value system, it's time to attempt making a sale. Two conditions must be in place to complete a sale:
Either the merchant already has a desire or you need to illustrate one. A good way to go about this is through the use of imagery - using pictures or words to help convey a product or service's value. For example, in selling a processing terminal to a grocery store chain whose owner values efficiency, you might have the buyer imagine the store's checkout lines moving faster, and the smiles on the faces of customers as they move briskly through.
It is unlikely that you will generate significant new business strictly from merchants with a built-in readiness to buy. In many cases, you'll have to goad merchants to buy who are lukewarm, or even cold, toward your initial offer.
Sometimes the final selling point is a special offer that forces a quick decision, lest your prospective customer miss out on a unique opportunity. Usually such an offer takes the form of a discount, but there are better options. Savvy merchants (and consumers) tend to distrust discounts, especially when they don't know what your markup is.
Don't sell yourself short. Learn how to add value rather than subtract it; sell the product, not the price.
And use the answers from the five magical questions to home in on a particular selling point. If a merchant says the most important factor in selecting a processor is the availability of technical help, a good offer might be: "Sign today and we'll help you design a new Web page for your company."
Effective selling often involves moving from the general to the specific. First, figure out what a client generally looks for as a buyer, and then move to the value of a specific product or service that fits the person's professed interests - relating the benefits of that product to his or her values whenever possible.
Understand your prospects, and you'll understand what will drive them to rely on you and you alone for their merchant services. By acquainting yourself with their individual attitudes and preferences, you can steer them to the right products or services and sell them in the most compelling way.
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 call him at 512-803-0956
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