By Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang
Merchant Services Inc., Fort Worth, Texas
This article is for all the merchant level salespeople (MLSs) in it for the long haul. We say the long haul because some people enter merchant services, make lucrative quick hits, pay the bills and leave the industry in the dark of night. These are the MLSs selling $100 per month leases for terminals that have a market value of $400. These are the folks that give our industry a bad name.
But this article is for MLSs committed to building businesses, systematically, over time.
Often, when people start new endeavors, they mimic what others are doing. That is how babies traditionally learn: they observe the behavior and actions of others and mirror them. While this is fine for the short run, as a new MLS, you quickly need to determine what differentiates you from others.
You might know a particular vertical inside out or be so technically gifted that you are the best POS troubleshooter on the planet, so identify your unique gifts and exploit them.
Also, as a new MLS, if you don't have a business plan, you will always be navigating through your rearview mirror - wondering what the competition is doing, rather than what you should be doing. So building that initial plan is a combination of knowing where your skills lie and what your personal limitations are.
A participant posted the following question on GS Online's MLS Forum: "What types of marketing are you using? I don't want to know how much you spend or how you implement, just what kind you are using." A perceptive response from thecreditcardman was, "No one answer fits all. They all have positives and negatives. What works for us, our personalities, our abilities, or lack of abilities in a particular marketing genre, dictates what combination and concentration ... we accentuate."
The mnemonic device C-A-R-E stands for confidence, attitude, respect and enthusiasm. It also emphasizes truly caring for yourself, your family and your community. As business owners in the Fort Worth, Texas, community, we have great compassion for those who live in poverty, and we are deeply concerned about the growing issue of homelessness. This is something we truly care about.
In September 2009, Jon spoke at an annual convention on poverty. The topic was how organizations can use social media to aid those in need. He spoke to a large group comprising those working with the over 433,000 people in Fort Worth and the surrounding 13-county area who live in extreme poverty.
When Jon addressed the audience, he didn't speak about credit card processing, low rates or free terminals. He spoke about the compassion he has for those in need in the community and his commitment to helping them, in a language the audience understood.
As a new MLS, find your passion. Give before you receive. When people see you working hard for a chamber volunteer committee or helping to build a porch for Habitat for Humanity Intl. on a Saturday afternoon, they see you in a different light. They see you for the incredible person you are, not for the products or services you offer.
Giving will give back to you because people will be drawn to you. If your integrity stands out in community projects, they will make the natural leap of faith that your integrity stands out in business as well.
In private industry, or building your own company, self-confidence is a cornerstone to success. If you don't believe in yourself or the products and services you are selling, it will show.
Dr. Wayne Dyer eloquently said, "Don't sell the product. Sell your love for the product or the services you can offer the customer." Whether you realize it or not, you mirror to the customer through your body language what you really believe, not what you are saying. To boost your confidence here are some tips to consider before your next sales call.
1. Have industry knowledge. More and more merchants understand interchange, but some are misinformed about the topic. Can you clear up their confusion? Is your knowledge adequate enough to educate customers so they can make informed decisions? Or are you hyping your service to overcompensate for weaknesses?
2. Be honest. A salesperson told one of our customers the terminal we had provided wasn't Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliant. Our customer called us. When we arrived at the business, we turned over the merchant's Ingenico 5100, and there was a large sticker that read, "PCI Compliant." Lying to customers and prospects in this way serves no one.
3. Keep your personal life in check. We all experience duress. It could be a divorce or making the next car payment. When we go into a sales call our objective is service. We listen to the client and offer solutions that meet or exceed their needs. If we were to go into the meeting thinking about our mortgage payment due last Thursday, we wouldn't be focused on the sale. This would show, and we would appear needy, perhaps even desperate.
4. Only you hold yourself back. When we started our company, family and friends thought we were crazy. They wondered why we would start a business with no guaranteed income over the cushy salary and perks we previously enjoyed. Listen to what people have to offer, but at the end of the day, you are the one who forges the road ahead. Once you make the decision, make the commitment.
There is no bigger drag on your emotions and energy than a person who has a negative attitude. Yes, we all have issues, but they should not be on display for anyone who is willing to pay attention.
On a bad day, good day or mediocre day, walk into a room to work the room. Be there to serve people, not have them serve your needs and make you feel better.
To help with your attitude, ask yourself, What is the worst that could happen? Follow up that question with, If the worst happened, would that be the end of my life? Even through the most severe tribulations, we can endure if we persist. If you can't get through them alone, seek guidance from a trusted adviser or professional.
We live in a melting pot, with people of different races, religions and ethnic backgrounds. Knowing this means we stay flexible and are not offended if some people want to haggle over price; it's part of their culture.
We don't get wrapped around the axle when we are referred to a customer who processes $2,000 a month but wants the lowest price. We take the time to explain the service, how we can help the merchant and provide the best price. If we display caring and respect, even if this merchant doesn't use us today, we leave the door open for when the merchant is processing $20,000 a month and is looking for better service.
Additionally, we have always counseled sales representatives never to gossip or participate in gossip. No matter how juicy the gossip, if you are willing to speak ill of another person to me, I have to assume you will speak ill of me when I am not present.
Each culture has its traditions and methods for doing business. If you are trying to get more customers from the Hispanic community, go to Hispanic events.
Ask people you know for tips and ideas that will help you better understand this rich culture. Learn the language - at least enough to get by. This shows you are willing to go the extra mile. Respect should be demonstrated inside and outside your company. We value our employees and customers equally. After all, 100 percent of us get paid by our customers.
A fresh coat of paint can spruce up an aging home and give it curb appeal. Likewise, enthusiasm is our paint. It is contagious. Vince Lombardi said, "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm."
And Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your objective. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
Before your next sales call, get pumped up. Listen to a motivational CD or talk to another MLS who displays a positive attitude. Do whatever it takes to get your adrenaline going. If you are committed to the industry, drive and enthusiasm will follow. If not, you might as well start figuring out your next gig.
Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang are the owners of Merchant Services Inc., an ISO based in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information, tweet them at http://twitter.com/dfwcard, comment on their blog at http://merchantservices.cc or visit their profile at http://linkedin.com/in/jonperry or http://linkedin.com/in/vanessalang. Alternatively, you can contact Jon and Vanessa by phone at 817-857-3557 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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