By Steve Norell
US Merchant Services Inc.
Every day, I meet merchants who tell me or my sales agents that a competitor called on them in an effort to make them switch their processing from our company to the competitor.
Because I like to know who my competition is and what they are saying, I always ask the client the name of the merchant level salesperson (MLS) and his or her company name, as well as what they offered. Nine times out of 10, the merchant cannot remember the names - only that the MLS promised to save the merchant money.
For those who know me, I am hard to forget, although I am sure some would like to forget me. Regardless, my No. 1 goal is to be remembered by my merchants. The questions we all need to ask are, how are we remembered and for what reasons? Did we make a positive impression that merchants will remember a week or a month from now? Or was it just one more pitch that they've heard time and again?
I am sure most of us feel that we excel in our chosen profession and that merchants should fully appreciate the products and services we provide, as well as the expertise and knowledge we share when teaching them how the credit card world works. We all inform them of rates, fees, terminals, options and other factors.
But before you leave sales calls, do you leave your mark? What do you do differently that makes merchants unable to forget you, your name and your company name?
My method has always been to use humor, since everybody likes to laugh. If humor is not your strong point, pick something else and hone that skill. I remember a salesman who wanted to leave his mark. He did so by putting on roller skates and rolling in through every customer's door. I am sure he was not soon forgotten.
My favorite moment of leaving my mark was when I was given the task of making a Saturday presentation to the sales force of a customer at the company's warehouse. I don't know about you, but not many people want to be in a warehouse on a Saturday listening to a vendor drone on about how great his product is.
As I was coming to the end of the presentation, I could sense boredom was kicking in. At this point, I knew I had to come up with something fast, or they would never remember me. So I dug deep into my joke bag and told what I thought was one of my top five jokes.
Without repeating the joke here, I can tell you the punch line: Harry Truman, 1945. The joke was so good that I brought down the house, and away I went.
For years after that Saturday, I ran into sales reps who were at that meeting. When they saw me, they would immediately say "Harry Truman, 1945." A lot of them were by then working for different companies, but they always remembered me and my punch line.
So, did I leave my mark? You bet I did, and that is what it is all about. There is an old saying in Hollywood: Good news or bad news, just spell my name right, and keep writing or talking about me. As long as you're on their minds, the phone will keep ringing.
Being the smartest or most complete MLS in today's market is not always enough. But if you leave merchants with just one thing they can't forget, you will succeed where others fail. Whenever you leave a merchant, ask yourself, Did I leave my mark? If the answer is no, get back in there and correct that shortcoming.
Steve Norell is Director of Sales at US Merchant Services Inc. Based in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he oversees the USMS sales force and maintains the company's bank and processor relationships. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 772-220-7515.
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