By Jeff Fortney
You return to your car after a disappointing sales presentation and wonder what just happened. The application was complete. You asked all the right questions and knew your offering was perfect for this merchant. You'd had a number of productive conversations, and it looked like it was a done deal.
But when the time came to put pen to paper, the merchant said no and decided not to proceed. This caused you to spend another 30 minutes backtracking, going over all the positives you previously mentioned - like the savings and that there would be no surprise expenses. After all that, the merchant still said no.
Sound familiar? Chances are this has happened to you at one time or another. And it's easy to understand why depression may set in and negatively affect your future sales performance. Because this could lead to further lost sales, you must recover quickly and move on. The key to a speedy recovery is to perform a post-mortem examination, which is done by asking key questions about the process you just completed.
Now I'll discuss each of these questions so you'll have an idea why they are important and how to approach them.
This is a clear sign of someone who is afraid to say no. Many people are uncomfortable saying no. They may ask for something to review; they may even sound interested in everything you've said. Yet, in fact, they are giving you signals that they are not going to sign. They may even go so far as give you the information for the application, but when commitment time arrives, they finally tell you no.
A timely no is not a bad result. Remember, time is your most important and valuable asset. It cannot be replenished. Chasing a maybe that you perceive as a yes eats up time that could be used to follow real opportunities.
When prospective merchant customers reschedule or delay appointments, top merchant level salespeople (MLSs) give them the opportunity to say they aren't interested - to say no if that's truly what they want to do.
These savvy MLSs make it clear that their feelings won't be hurt if the merchants are not interested or if they're postponing merely because they are afraid to say no. The true sales professional tells merchants that saying no now will save them time in the long run.
Sometimes a postponement is just that - a postponement. But by giving merchants a chance to say no early on, you'll be able to find out the reason why a merchant isn't interested in what you have to offer.
Did you really listen, or did you primarily sell?
Merchants will tell you their needs and desires, their pains and complaints - if you just listen. However, all too often MLSs will hear a few key words and instead of continuing to listen, they tune out and start thinking about how they will handle the merchant's objections.
When it's time to sign, the merchant balks because his or her issues have not been addressed. The merchant may even feel like the MLS wasn't listening to what he or she had to say. Sadly, that's probably the case.
Top salespeople know the first thing a merchant says may not be the real problem. It could simply be a symptom of a problem. They listen further and ask questions. They encourage the merchant to explain further and give examples while they determine how important the issue is to the merchant. They know the key to the sale is not addressing the symptom; it's addressing the root problem.
Did you explain the application process clearly before you started?
The merchant boarding process can be intimidating because it involves an application. If merchants don't understand the risk factors of payment processing, they may not understand why you need a Social Security number, a personal guarantor and other personal information.
Many merchants will feel they are being asked to provide confidential information for no purpose. They will resist providing certain data and either refuse to sign or refuse to provide the information. Either way, you end up with an unsigned or incomplete application.
Before beginning to fill out the application, top salespeople walk the merchant through the process, explain what will be asked and why it's needed. After all, they know it's better to have the merchant refuse and not complete the application than to submit an incomplete application with the hopes that the underwriter will just ignore the information gaps.
Did you say or do anything that cost you the sale?
We all want to build affinity with merchants, and it's our hope that they will become long-time partners. Good rapport is key to successful long-term relationships. Without it, there is a great chance you will lose the merchant's business.
However, top salespeople also understand the critical need to mirror merchants. Mirroring means using the same terms, the same approach and the same words the merchants use.
This doesn't mean becoming a yes person or agreeing with everything a merchant says. What it means is that you must recognize how he or she communicates and then mirror that form of communication.
For example, if a merchant uses words like frustrated, upset or angry, don't concentrate on numbers. Focus on what's causing the frustration or anger. Mirror the merchant, and you will build rapport.
Completing this post-mortem exercise will help you learn from lost sales. You can then incorporate what you learn into future sales efforts. In essence, even though you lost the sale, you gained valuable lessons.
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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