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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 26, 2012 • Issue 12:11:02

How to propel merchants to shed comfortable habits

By Rick Berry
ABC MobilePay Inc.

There is no doubt that mobile POS solutions, particularly when they involve neither a major outlay of upfront capital nor a high monthly fee, have advantages that can increase sales and efficiency and reduce costs for retail and restaurant operations.

The case for this is easy to make. I know. I make it all the time. And those to whom I'm making the case "get it" without much difficulty. But do they "buy it"? Meaning, do they actually take the plunge? The answer is no, many of them don't. They love the concept; they "get" the advantages. But they stand at the water's edge and hesitate. Why? My sense is that it's psychological.

Does this sound familiar?

I'm reminded of how I felt way back in the dim, dark past when I was communicating by fax, and there was this new thing called email. It sounded exciting, but did I immediately jump on the email bandwagon? No, I clung to my trusty fax for a while longer even though I knew email was the future. I believe this is a similar moment. Merchants and restaurateurs can see that to "go mobile" is not only a good thing, it's inevitable. At some point in the future it will be the norm.

The idea of a waiter disappearing with your credit card while you sit at the table is going to go the way of the fax machine. Increasingly, it will become the norm in many restaurants - particularly quick service restaurant (QSR) and casual dining businesses - to place your order over a touch screen.

What's behind the resistance?

So what is preventing a massive, rapid uptake? How can those of us who have good solutions to provide get customers to stop thinking about using our solutions and "just do it"? There has to be a way.

I go back to my former hesitation to use email. What held me back? Psychologically, I was comfortable doing what I was doing. I knew exactly how to do every step of what I needed to do, and it was working OK for me.

When I thought of switching to email, there were uncertainties. What was going to be the gain for me by using it?

I understood in principle how it worked, but there was that hesitation, that inability to easily visualize the steps I would need to go through first of all to set it up, then to use it. How much value would I really get out of using it?

Something like that is in play here. When we talk to a prospective customer over the phone, the merchant gets the concept, but it doesn't break down that wall of not being able to visualize it.

What will help with visualization?

So what is the best way to get someone to visualize how the solution works and how it provides value? On the web, we can put up short videos that give a flavor; we can even put up tutorials and a demo if we can get users to take the time to sit down and check them out. But increasingly, I see this is as a situation in which we need to provide something new. What could that new element be? We need to create personalized demos.

For example, let's say we've found a retail merchant in need of inventory control or noticed a QSR or casual dining eatery in our area that has all the elements that should make it a good choice for converting to an mPOS solution. What should we do? Make a phone call? What are the odds this will bear fruit?

We could do an in-person presentation with generic demo materials. That's better than no demo, but it isn't quite enough.

Why not customize your demo?

What's stopping us from having a customized demo that shows prospects how the solution would work in their distinct retail or restaurant environments? After all, chances are excellent that their products or menu items are all online (at least they should be). So we have access to that information long before the presentation.

From a product list or menu, how hard is it to extrapolate at least the basic best-selling products or menu items for a given business?

And how much staff time would be involved in creating a streamlined, customized presentation that uses a simplified version of the prospect's product catalog or actual menu, as well as a simplified version of the inventory, and then shows the merchant or restaurateur how the system brings it all together and integrates with QuickBooks or other accounting solutions, as well?

Is customization too much trouble?

Now, the argument against this is that it would just take too much staff time to create custom demos. But would it? In the beginning, each presentation would be individualized, but templates would emerge, and streamlining would occur as a result.

The amount of staff time required to prepare custom demos would begin to shrink, and I'm certain the closing percentage would grow by more than enough to make up for the time spent creating them. Am I nuts? I don't think so.

What steps are involved?

I see it breaking down like this:

  • A sales rep approaches a business owner in person and says, "Do you have five to 10 minutes for a demonstration of how this works in your store using your menu, inventory etc.? It's all prepared. I've already set it up for you. Have a look."

  • Right away, the business owner is at least 50 percent more likely to say, "OK, I have five or 10 minutes for that," than if the rep used the same approach but offered only a generic demo. Psychologically, the offer of a customized demo that has been set up using the prospect's own product stock or menu and extrapolated inventory is simply much more of a hook than a generic demo.

  • Next, in a few quick minutes, the prospect sees just how simple, efficient and affordable the solution is. By visually showcasing the company's own products or menu "in action" and then showing all that follows, the demonstration literally lifts the customer and carries him or her past the psychological barrier of, "I'm not sure about learning something new."

    The prospect sees first-hand that what has to be learned is simple and intuitive, and that it streamlines so many other aspects of business operations that it's an opportunity the prospect can't miss.

Are you fired up yet?

We're using this method at my company now with dramatic success. We're not the only ones doing this either; we modeled the idea after our valued partner Al Delarosa, of Pragmatek Consulting Group, who shared his presentation method with us.

He uses his iPad and a mobile projector that displays the prospect's preloaded product inventory or menu items on the wall. This makes it very real for potential customers, it gets them emotionally involved and it increases Al's sign-up rate.

I'm experiencing similar results with this method, which is why I'm so excited about sharing it. What can I say? I'm fired up about this. We're going to continue to use this method. I'll report back on the results. Stay tuned. end of article

Rick Berry is the President of ABC Mobile Pay Inc., a Valencia, California based company specializing in providing affordable, software-as-a-service POS solutions. Rick can be reached at rick@abcmobilepay.com.

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