The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 13, 2012 â€¢ Issue 12:08:01
A handshake with that cup of Joe
There is nothing quite like the warmth of a fresh cup of coffee. The first frothy sip has such appeal that millions of Americans stand in line for it as part of their daily ritual. Is it any wonder the longest lines at payments industry tradeshows are at the nearby coffee shops?
Many deals have been sealed over a cup of java at tradeshows. The same strategy can also be applied to merchant alliances as long as your objective is to determine how you can enrich the merchant's business. What would be equivalent to a swirl of caramel in the retailer's cup? Could it be testing a new loyalty program? A POS system that handles Europay/MasterCard/Visa, near-field-communication and mag stripe payments via an affordable lease program? The variations are limitless, but value is core.
Perfecting the coffee meeting
Here are four general coffee-meeting steps that can lead to positive results:
- Common ground: Agree to meet with your merchant at his or her favorite coffee house at a time most convenient for the merchant. Meeting outside of the hustle and bustle of the retailer's business offers a pleasant reprieve that is conducive to open conversation. Offer to pay for the beverage, as well as any side items the merchant might enjoy.
- Fresh pour: Once settled in at a suitable table, maintain an open forum. Allow the merchant to address concerns about business and life. Listen carefully for clues about where the retailer's business is headed, and consider how you might help the merchant connect with customers in more meaningful ways through technology or untapped sales channels - offer to guide the merchant through the process.
- Last drop: Shortly after the merchant has finished his or her beverage, bring the meeting to a close. Coffee meetings tend to be brief, which explains their popularity. If there are unfinished details or paperwork to sign, set an agreeable time to drop by the merchant's store. Close the meeting by outlining the next steps to be taken by both parties.
- More, please: If follow-up to the first coffee meeting has proceeded toward attaining stated goals, offer to meet periodically with the merchant at the same location, keeping in mind that with each cup of Joe, you have an opportunity to strengthen the business relationship. Use subsequent visits to check in and resolve any issues early on - and to set new goals.
The plan is beautifully simple yet, if executed well, the ramifications can result in bonds that last a lifetime.
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