By Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.
Selling merchant services takes stamina. Navigating through rejection, pending applications and insincere merchants (who play us to get better deals) can have a debilitating effect on our psyches. And, despite our best intentions, this can negatively affect our sales performance if we don't take steps to ensure we can continue to actively pursue our goals.
"Sociologists and psychologists have discovered a phenomenon in both humans and other animals that they call learned helplessness,"contributor Peiter "Mudge" Zatko wrote in "Psychological Security Traps," the first chapter of Beautiful Security: Leading Security Experts Explain How They Think by Andy Oram and John Viega.
"Learned helplessness springs from repeated frustration when trying to achieve one's goals or rescue oneself from a bad situation," Zatko stated. "Ultimately, the animal subjected to this extremely destructive treatment stops trying. Even when chances to do well or escape come along, the animal remains passive and fails to take advantage of them."
So how can we stay buoyant and productive through the ups and downs of selling merchant services? Following are highlights from a discussion thread in GS Online's MLS Forum in which seasoned professionals shared their thoughts on how they've learned to deal with rejection.
Many high-performance athletes, celebrities and sales professionals share an uncanny ability to block out negativity, noise and distraction in order to stay focused on achieving their goals. Clearent wrote, "I have a personal goal binder. In it there are visual reminders of why I do this. When rejections pile up, I pull it out to remind me why I keep chasing those rejections."
MBruno set out to earn trust and build long-term relationships, as opposed to just signing up new accounts. This perspective has helped him persist through lengthy sales cycles.
"I've boarded many clients who have said no multiple times," he wrote. "I kept emailing or calling them every so often with a friendly hello or industry information I thought they should know – over time, that effort built enough trust so when they were ready to dump their partner, I was there to swoop in on the rebound."
Studies have shown the health benefits of being happy. Dan Baker, Ph.D., wrote in What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better, "During active appreciation, your brain, heart, and endocrine system work in synchrony and heal in harmony. It is a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive."
Numerous ancient and modern philosophers have extolled the virtues of gratitude. For example, 14th century German philosopher and mystic Eckhart von Hochheim stated, "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." Another Eckhart from Germany, Eckhart Tolle, a 21st century educator and philosopher, said, "Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."
Maketelinc is in accord with their focus on gratitude. He wrote, "I have learned to feel that as long as my bills are getting paid, I have a little extra for others friends and family in need, and another drop to put away for old age, I must feel happy, because unfortunately most people in the world, and even in the United States, are not so lucky.
"Although I don't have all the accounts I once had, or all the accounts I try to get, or all the money and real estate etc. [that] I wish I had, … I am still making a comfortable, modest, and … honest living." He added that he is grateful for all that he has and counts his blessings daily.
Dee Malik appreciates his numerous and varied relationships with merchants. "I like bananas," he wrote. "You can buy them green at the store and wait for them to ripen. I don't care much for green bananas, but have enjoyed even the green ones, occasionally. If they ripen to the point that they are mushy and bruised, you may use them in cookies or banana bread. … You can't lose with bananas. If I am on top of my game, sales are a lot like bananas."
1Slick67 put it succinctly, stating, "Every time I am overwhelmed with rejection, I just take a look at my residual income and the world looks great once again!!!"
There can be many possible reasons why a sale falls through. It is imperative to learn from each example, do our best to improve and move on. As Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates said, "It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."
By focusing on his prospects, Ber stays attuned to their motivations and why they sometimes aren't ready to take the next step. "I don't ever feel rejected; I put myself in their shoes," he wrote, adding that sometimes it's just "not a good time," or the merchant is not open to new solutions or "loves" the current setup; sometimes a prospect is just "off" on a particular day.
"I don't just give up, but I don't try to 'win'," Ber added. Instead, he accepts the response and seeks to discover if an opportunity associated with his offering still exists. If not, he moves on to explore other options, while gaining a better understanding of why certain products or services may not be the right fit for the merchant.
Oldpro reminded us that when prospects say no, they are saying no to our services, not to us personally. "I have known great people that have gone into sales and have quit before they get started because they cannot stand the rejection and got angry when told no," he wrote. "[The] first thing I was told is to not take it personally; they are not rejecting you but the offer.
"Like anything else, sales is a profession, and those that know how to do it are some of the most highly paid."
Another tip from the pros is to remember that there's more to life than selling merchant services. It's important to take some time away from selling and maintain a work-life balance.
AdamVetter encouraged forum members to compartmentalize. "This is our work, and there are going to be negatives and bad days in any [career]," he wrote. "The key is, after a long day of repeated nos, that you know that you've already gotten a bushel basket full of yeses in your [career], and that you will get more. And that we get to go home at the end of the day.
"Also, [remember that for] every time you get kicked out of a business, there's another time to remember back on where you did right by a client and they threw you a referral for it. It's all about dynamics, and if there's no down, there really isn't an up either. Maybe that's too philosophical, but it's true everywhere, not just in processing."
Anticipating common hurdles in interpersonal communication will make us better at selling and communicating. Renowned negotiator and mediator William Ury identified five barriers to cooperation in his book, Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations. "Getting past no requires breaking through each of these five barriers … your reaction, their emotion, their position, their dissatisfaction and their power," he wrote. "It is easy to believe that stonewalling, attacks and tricks are just part of the other side's basic nature, and that there is little you can do to change such difficult behavior. But you can affect this behavior if you can deal successfully with its underlying motivations."
1Slick67 wrote that it helps to have a hard head and thick skin to be successful in this business. If you accept the fact that you won't win every deal, this can be a great way to make a living. CCGuy reminded us, "For every yes there are always a lot of nos." He noted that when he is cold calling, he sometimes gets one yes out of 50 or 100 attempts. But he added, "When you get a yes it is awesome."
Dale S. Laszig is a writer and payments industry executive specializing in business development and sales performance improvement. She manages channel sales at Castles Technology and sales effectiveness programs through IMPAX Corp. and C3ET Credit Card Consortia for Education & Training Inc. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or email@example.com.
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