By Jeff Fortney
In sales, as in life, we find two kinds of people: optimists and pessimists. An optimist sees the glass half full, while the pessimist sees it half empty. Because people's attitudes are generally quite obvious, we can determine through a series of verbal and nonverbal cues what types of people they are.
A prime example can be seen in a merchant level salesperson's (MLSs) attitude. The pessimistic MLS often says, "Why would merchants buy from me?" while the optimistic MLS says, "Why wouldn't they buy from me?" The differences in their attitudes are something prospective customers can see and feel.
The negative approach, although not verbalized, is evident in the MLS's attitude and approach during the initial sales attempt. Because of this, is it any wonder why the end result - no sale - is exactly what the pessimistic MLS thought it would be?
However, even the most optimistic people have to consciously push away negative thoughts. This is especially important in sales, because it can hinder success before the sales process even starts. Unless you find a way to plow through these negative roadblocks, your natural optimism will begin to fade, as will your success in sales.
I raise this issue as we approach another new year, because now is the time to reexamine sales plans and set new goals. But before a plan can be implemented for 2012, we should do a little "housecleaning" to identify negative thoughts that may have grown over the past year.
Once we have identified these pitfalls, we can take the appropriate steps to overcome them.
I spend a lot of time talking with ISOs and MLSs. That's why readers might be interested in the results of my informal research. From these discussions, I created a list of three common roadblocks salespeople find when they reflect on their efforts.
This roadblock has both short- and long-term ramifications on your success. A merchant may sign under false pretenses and at a price far below your minimum. Not only will you lose revenue, but your reputation could be damaged because of your inability to set the merchant's expectations at the appropriate level.
Also, the merchant still may not sign with you, even with all of your commitments to him or her. If this situation catches you at a weak moment, you might see this as a personal failure, which could affect your attitude and hinder future sales opportunities. That leads you to feel you must sign the next merchant, and so on.
That's why you must understand that no one sale will break you. Sure, certain sales are big wins. But a merchant you signed because you believed you had to sign him or her is not a big win. Before you even start the sales process, remind yourself that merchants need you just as much as you need them. Stay in control of the sale and be prepared to walk away so this roadblock won't negatively impact your success.
2. "If I can meet the merchant's perceived needs, all the rest will fall into place." This may not seem like a negative, but it has huge consequences. Consider this example: A merchant agrees to sign with you as long as you fix a specific problem.
Excited at the prospect of yet another win, you quickly start looking for a solution or a workaround. After spending hours on what appears to be a wild goose chase, you begin to wish you had probed deeper to learn the merchant's real needs.
Of course, enthusiasm is not a bad thing. It just needs to be tempered to avoid jumping too fast into problem-solving mode. Remember, you - not the merchant - are the expert. To avoid falling into this trap, simply say to a merchant, "Tell me more about your question or concern."
Chances are, you will be able to identify the merchant's true problems in less than five minutes and be given a chance to address them effectively. If you continually jump right to solutions without digging deeper, this process will become ingrained, and you will miss out on valuable sales opportunities.
3. "Signing this merchant will help me get a lot of referrals" or "Signing this merchant will help my reputation." We've all heard, "I know a lot of people. If you give me a really good rate, I'll send them your way." This statement feeds the perpetual optimist who, instead of addressing the situation correctly, jumps at the perceived opportunity.
Once signed, these types of merchants become hard to get in touch with, won't let you use their references for myriad reasons, or they just give you names you could have generated yourself. MLSs are left with merchants who generate low returns with no anticipated ancillary benefit.
You can eliminate this roadblock by anticipating this comment and practicing your response. It's simple. All you have to say is, "I will gladly reward you for any and all referrals you provide." Then explain the rewards you will provide in return for referred merchants who sign with you. Remember, only reward your customers when their referrals actually sign. Don't reward merchants on the promise of additional signings.
By determining the best ways to eliminate these roadblocks, you'll have a plan in place for tackling them the next time they arise. You'll also be able to look at your glass for the year and find that it is overflowing, instead of perpetually half full.
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management, with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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