By Jeff Fortney
A new year typically begins with great promise. In the payments world, we tell ourselves opportunities will abound, exciting new products and services will drive merchants to our door, and the future couldn't look any brighter. In reality, many merchant level salespeople (MLSs), use these words to change the mood, improve the attitude and create hope.
However, these positive statements can often mask a fear that so often accompanies the start of a new year. The unspoken comment may be, "Please don't let there be anything that requires me to change what I do."
The truth is change is a given. Many MLSs are already using the fear of change to market to merchants. A prime example is the use of the October Europay/MasterCard/Visa deadline to sell fear – and terminals. Other changes, like Apple Pay, raise disconcerting questions about future product demands. Nevertheless, you can avoid getting caught in fear mode. Here are three suggestions to help you start 2015 off quickly and effectively.
It's easy to get sidetracked about the future direction of payments. Predictions for the future abound and create buzz on message boards and in the press.
However, most successful MLSs are listening to the conversations but are not allowing themselves to be drawn in. Sure, these big-picture topics relate to the industry, but they are not impacting day-to-day activities in the street. The big picture is at a macro level, but daily conversations with merchants and ongoing efforts to grow merchant portfolios are at a micro level.
Thinking micro means being in the here and now. What may happen six months from now or even a year from now is important, but it shouldn't monopolize your thoughts and interfere with your actions today.
Consider and understand the macro topics, at least enough to answer questions when asked, because merchants tend to hear and worry about the macro, too. But by staying focused on the here and now you will be able to put your merchants' fears at ease and position yourself as their trusted adviser. This will help prevent fear from hindering your sales efforts.
This should be the first consideration on every sales call. By first creating rapport, the call becomes less about product and more about service.
We all talk about selling service first, but it's not easy. Merchants have become suspicious of every MLS; they think we all promise savings that will never materialize.
Overcoming these impressions is challenging. That's why you need to listen first, show empathy and, overall, become someone they ultimately trust.
Sometimes building trust may result in you not signing the merchant. However, that doesn't mean that you can't part as friends. After all, you never know what may happen in the future.
Many athletes have had hot streaks where it seems every play they make succeeds. Yet, as quickly as those streaks began, they can disappear. Batters, for example, can find themselves suddenly missing pitches they easily would have hit before.
That's why players look at videos of their games. Often they find they changed something inadvertently that made them less effective. And after correcting the flaw they may not be as hot as they were before, but they do regain momentum.
Adapting is critical in an industry that changes as often as the payments world. However, this doesn't mean you should completely change what has worked for you previously.
Examine your prior day-to-day efforts, the words you said and the call plan you used. Once you find what is interfering with your success, fix that flaw. Like that athlete, you will be back on your way to a winning streak.
It's important to be optimistic. Just remember to pay attention to the here and now, focus on building rapport with at least one new merchant each day, and mirror your successes. 2015 just might be your best year yet.
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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