By Jeff Fortney
One of my favorite stories involves a comparison between an optimist and a pessimist. A test was created to see if researchers could change a pessimist into an optimist, and vice versa. After months of searching, they located the most optimistic child and the most pessimistic child in the United States. Then they brought them together to run the test.
They placed the pessimistic child in a room filled with brand new toys. They said he could play with anything and do anything he liked. In turn, they led the optimistic child to a room half filled with horse manure. They handed the child a bucket and a shovel and said, "Have fun."
After two hours they checked on each child. In the pessimist's room, they viewed toys strewn about; most were broken in some fashion. In the midst of the mess sat the child whining, saying, "There isn't anything to do." In the optimist's room, they saw that the child was busy moving manure from one side of the room to the other. Surprised, they asked what he was doing. The child responded, "With this much horse manure in here there has to be a pony somewhere."
There are parallels between this story and the payments business. It goes without saying that it is difficult for people with pessimistic inclinations to be successful in this industry unless they make a concerted effort to change. On the other hand, it is equally challenging for people who are true optimists because they will often find that their untamed enthusiasm gets in the way of success.
This is an important concept as we move forward into 2014. We all start each year with hopes of being successful. This raises the question, How can we convert those hopes into true success?
To answer this question and achieve our ultimate goal of success, each of us must look inward and honestly decide if we are optimistic or pessimistic. Doing so will help us gauge what we need to do to be successful in the coming year and beyond.
Very few people will admit to being pessimists. It's not a badge worn proudly. And the sales profession can easily amplify pessimism. Just think of how often you hear the word "no." It assaults your confidence every day. Yet it is extremely rare to hear any salespeople admit that they are true pessimists. Indeed, those who do quickly gravitate toward other lines of work.
Perhaps you consider yourself to be a realist. Have you ever said, "I wouldn't sign with me. I don't see why this merchant would even consider my proposal." Or have you spent excessive time examining a statement to make sure you haven't missed anything?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, you at the very least have pessimistic tendencies. Yes, there are those who have pessimistic tendencies that are successful in payments. This is because they have identified when these traits get in the way, and have developed techniques to overcome them.
Here are a few examples:
It is said that an optimist sees the rose, but not the thorns. As a result, his or her optimism can be the primary roadblock to success.
It's easy to see how an optimist can succeed in the payments arena. Optimists have no fear and will talk to any merchant, regardless of size. They see opportunity in every merchant, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, the roadblock occurs when optimism overrides common sense.
For example, say a merchant calls you and asks about processing. He says he saw your website and felt you would be perfect. He completes the application over the phone, gives you an email address to send it to, and promptly returns the signed application along with several statements.
The optimist might say this is a great opportunity. However, common sense would say this might be a risky merchant because this is an approach commonly used to set up fraudulent accounts. This is why it's critical that the optimist tempers a positive outlook in certain situations.
There is one caveat that I would like to mention. An optimist can be driven out of payments by the fact that this is a "no" business. The optimist will be under constant attack. Optimists should temper their optimism slightly so they can withstand the "no" assault that they will hear from merchants far too often.
Be careful not to quickly label yourself as either an optimist or a pessimist. Take the time to answer the basic questions mentioned herein, and ask your mentor or ISO partner for an honest opinion. Then, take the answer to heart, so you can alter your sales process as needed. This will help ensure you are fully leveraging your most important sales tool: you.
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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