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The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 22, 2010 • Issue 10:02:02


Curing merchants' sales colds

When you're ill, you call a doctor. Not just any doctor, but one you believe in, a professional with credibility. When retail sales are sick, business owners look to another kind of doctor to cure their ailments. If you have credibility, you'll be the one they call.

How do you establish yourself as a sales healer? By using the same skills physicians use. You must examine, listen closely, get a history, speak simply, offer a solution, work smart and go the extra mile.

Think like a doctor

Here is how to use the physicians' approach in the payments sphere:

  • Examine: Before a doctor can make a reliable diagnosis, he or she must conduct a thorough examination of the patient. For the sales professional, this involves asking your prospects insightful questions to reveal where exactly they hurt.

  • Listen closely: A doctor wants to hear what the patient is saying. If you don't give your prospects an opportunity to describe the symptoms, you won't know how to alleviate them. As you listen, stay focused on the problem, not your products.

  • Get a history: Like a good M.D., a good salesperson researches the patient. Find out all you can about the prospect's business - length of time in operation, last year's annual sales figures, amount of foot traffic, recent changes in daily activities, et cetera before you make a diagnosis.

  • Speak simply: Merch-ants are overwhelmed with information. They are bombarded by television, radio, direct mail, e-mail, text messages, social networking and all that the Internet has to offer.

    They don't need involved, wordy dicussions. They need you to give them a simple, concise explanation of their illness and prognosis.

  • Offer a solution: Smart doctors will be ready with a treatment when they deliver a diagnosis. A smart salesperson is ready to provide a viable solution to the prospect. If you can't readily fix the problem, someone else will.

  • Work smart: It's the 80/20 principle - 80 percent of your revenue is generated by 20 percent of your efforts. Doctors don't go out looking for patients who someday might want their services. They answer calls of those who need their services right away. Use your time wisely. Find the merchants who are ailing.

  • Start small: A doctor builds credibility by first treating a small ailment, then attending to the patient when larger illnesses arise. So, too, the savvy sales professional begins a merchant relationship with one service and builds upon it by adding value as trust is established and future needs arise.

  • Go the extra mile: While the days of doctors making house calls may be gone, that level of personal service is key to credibility when it comes to merchant accounts. Follow up with not just phone calls but also with house (store) calls. This will show you care.

Become educated

Of course, a physician undergoes rigorous academic and practical training, as well as a licensing process, before he or she can hang out a shingle.

While payment professionals do not have to face such a daunting preparation process, it behooves all ISOs and merchant level salespeople to, at a minimum, learn the payments industry basics before attempting to become any merchant's trusted sales healer.

If you are lucky, you work for or with a company that offers a thorough training program. If not, you will need to educate yourself.

In addition to reading The Green Sheet, which has helped inform countless payment professionals since 1983, visit our archives and forums at www.greensheet.com/forums.

I suggest you also attend industry association meetings, find a mentor, and attend seminars, webinars and other educational opportunities offered in person or online.

One training option is the Electronic Transactions Association's ETA University online courses offered via the organization's Web site www.electran.org. Current topics include introduction to electronic payments, introduction to operations, introduction to sales and marketing and sales channel development.

Do these things, and you'll be well on your way to becoming the trusted healer your merchants can rely upon. end of article

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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

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