The Green Sheet Online Edition
February 28, 2011 • Issue 11:02:02
The fine art - and science - of selling
||Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.|
- John Updike
Selling to merchants is both an art and a science, requiring insights into human nature, as well as technical knowledge of products and services. During sales calls, we must connect with a human being, not just a business entity, to make our case.
The most successful merchant level salespeople (MLSs)know how to combine people skills with industry expertise to create a truly effective presentation. Fortunately, MLSs are by nature resourceful and results-driven, so becoming well-rounded to secure more sales makes perfect sense. After all, we routinely set goals for ourselves, not boundaries, while seeking to perfect the sales process.
Keeping tabs on the industry, as well as acquiring insights into human behavior, is a dynamic, never-ending process. Technology changes rapidly, and we are constantly discovering more about how people communicate, what motivates them and why they make certain choices.
Industry expertise comes from reading trade publications like The Green Sheet, attending tradeshows, networking with peers, taking relevant classes and so on. It's important to read and share this type of information so you can credibly represent a range of payment solutions - the "science" side of selling - to merchants.
On the "art" side of selling, there is the need to listen carefully, ask probing questions and empathize with the challenges the merchant faces before jumping into a one-size-fits-all sales pitch. The information-gathering portion of your meeting demonstrates to the merchant facets of your character that are key to relationship-building.
It's a joy to watch salespeople who can create rapport and then wield their deep industry expertise to fashion a solution that truly matches a merchant's goals and circumstances. It's like witnessing a masterpiece in the works.
Broadening your horizons
So how do you become a better listener, more attuned to customer needs, more innovative when suggesting solutions? Perhaps it's time to move beyond your accustomed educational resources to achieve a fresh perspective. Here are some suggestions:
- Practice asking open-ended, evocative questions with family and friends.
- Find a coach outside of your usual circle of colleagues. Choose someone who can offer an unbiased appraisal of your presentation skills.
- Read a biography about a person renowned for his or her ability to engage and inspire people.
- Attend a workshop on humor (there's a reason many public speakers start their presentations with jokes).
The more you seek to understand the people you are selling to, the greater your chance of building a connection and thus creating a sale. Facts and figures alone will not convince a potential customer that you recognize their needs and are worthy of their trust. You must creatively combine both the art and science of selling to excel.
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