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The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 09, 2010 • Issue 10:08:01

Avoid 'always be closing' and other old traps

By Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

The sales profession is one of the few where rewards are directly tied to an individual's efforts. Good salespeople quickly find that by executing solid sales plans they can increase their earnings. Employees who are paid salaries don't have that potential upside.

The earning potential drives many people to go into sales. It is also one of the key reasons people sell payment services. Like insurance sales, payments is one of the few industries that can reward successful salespeople with ongoing, long-term income without their having to sell ancillary products.

These rewards are also why many continue in a profession that can best be described as difficult or frustrating and as one that generates more negative responses than most other professions. If it were easy, great salespeople would not be in such high demand.

With the challenges inherent in our industry, why do salespeople add to it by being negative? And what can we do to reduce this negativity?

Salespeople of all kinds fall into common traps that add to their stress and frustration and negatively impact their sales. These are all under the salesperson's control. By addressing these pitfalls, salespeople will increase sales.

Don't chase rainbows

We have all been confronted with the merchant request, "Can you leave me something so I can read it over and think about it?" In many cases you comply by leaving literature and schedule a return call.

When you return, you find merchants are either busy or out. You go back again, and this time they are in but haven't looked at what you left, or are still busy. You repeat these same calls. Even though you are talking with no one, you are chasing someone who wants your services - or so you hope.

As poets will attest, you can chase the end of a rainbow but will never find it. The same can be said for chasing "maybes." They both give false hope in finding gold at the end.

Simply put, these situations often destroy a sales effort. And worse, they provide false hope to the salesperson of closing the deal. The majority of these merchants are not likely to sign with you no matter how many calls you make. In fact, the lost time spent chasing them could have been spent chasing merchants who were true prospects.

Take a new approach

To avoid the trap, you must be able to recognize these situations immediately. When you are asked to leave something behind or merchants say they will think it over, don't answer immediately. Follow with a question confirming their interest and solidify a time when you will talk again.

If they don't seem to want to be firm about either, tell them it is okay to say no, explaining how you view their time as equally valuable as your own. Emphasize that you don't want to be that pest who makes them want to hide when they see you come to the door.

You can smile as you explain. But if they refuse to give you a fixed time for further discussion, don't leave anything behind. It is better to make another cold call.

Never rush to judgment

"Always be closing" is a mantra all reps hear. But all too often we are closing before there is a reason to close. As a result, we lose the deal.

Merchants tell you about situations that happened to them; you immediately answer with what you would have done differently and then think you have reason to close. You zero in on this issue - how you would have handled it - and think you've made the sale.

Yet when it comes time to sign the contract, the merchant hesitates, becomes a maybe, or worse, says no immediately. You leave asking yourself: What just happened? Doesn't he know I could have solved his problem?

We tend to jump at the first opportunity to close, even when it isn't a true opportunity. Remember, your perception may be different from the merchant's. Without a full understanding, your move to get the merchant to sign puts up a roadblock that ultimately prevents you from closing the deal.

If you had paused and responded with a question when the merchant first mentioned the situation, you could have discovered the real reasons behind the problem. Those reasons may be different than what you first thought. So what's the question you should ask? It's simple: Please tell me more about that.

Dispense with negative assumptions

You research a merchant and determine who he or she processes with today. You also know the merchant sells a certain type of product and is probably a member of an industry association.

All this information should give you a solid foundation on which to begin your sales efforts.

But instead, you think about the last merchant you talked to with similar information. You remember he didn't sign because you couldn't overcome his relationship ties. So instead of going into a call with confidence, you assume this new merchant has no reason to sign with you and choose not to make the call.

You justify this decision by saying you don't want to waste your time. Even if you make the call, this attitude permeates your discussion and the answer is what you expect it to be: no.

In so doing, you will never know if you talked yourself out of a sale. In fact, until the merchant tells you no, you have no idea what the merchant would have said. You have become a roadblock to your own sales plan.

Adopt a new mantra

No two merchants are exactly alike. Consider using that as your mantra. Treat all merchants as individuals and use the information you have to your benefit in how you structure your sales efforts. You need to get out of your own way.

Be aware of these traps and avoid them at all costs. Don't be your biggest hurdle to a sale. end of article

Jeff Fortney is Director of Business Development with Clearent LLC. He has more than 12 years of experience in the payments industry. Contact him at jeff@clearent.com or 972-618-7340.

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