By Michael Gavin
Years ago, buyers had to seek out a salesperson when they wanted information on products and services. Today, the sales process has changed; consumers are more informed than ever before. The ease of researching companies online, reading reviews and obtaining product information enables today's buyers to do the majority of their research without speaking to a salesperson.
If you're an independent sales agent, you must adjust to the changed buyer and think strategically. Your prospects are informed and highly intelligent; they know about your competitors and the available options.
As a sales professional working with informed buyers, I offer the following tips that have helped me.
Understanding who your prospects are and what their businesses do will lead to more productive, meaningful conversations. Before a meeting, research your prospect's business, website, location, products, owner, etc., and try to learn as much as you can. Being familiar with a business shows that you care and have done your research in advance.
While making a good impression may seem like common sense, it's critical in the world of sales. First, consider the time of day you visit local businesses. If you're courting a sandwich shop, don't arrive at noon and assume the owner will be available to speak with you. Be respectful of the prospect's time and try to avoid the busiest times when you visit.
When you meet with a prospect, be professional, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude. Prospects choose to buy from people they like, so making a good first impression will go a long way.
As previously mentioned, researching the business beforehand can help you win the deal. It's courteous to express interest in a prospect's business and shows that you care about the person's success. If you can, purchase something to show your respect for the business, demonstrate your sincere interest and establish a personal relationship.
When speaking with your prospects, dive into their business goals and get a better understanding of what they want to accomplish. Figure out what their major pain points are, and consider the potential solutions you can offer. Putting yourself in their shoes can help you understand where they're coming from and may even help you think of new ways to help them.
Some salespeople focus too heavily on their products' features and services rather than on what really matters to the customer: the benefits. What's in it for the customer? Your prospects aren't interested in features. They want to know what you can do to help their business. As the payments industry becomes more saturated and your competitors can offer the same service, focus on the true value you can bring to their businesses. Be prepared to answer, "Why should I work with you?"
Selling your primary business product or service is great, but what if your prospect is already committed to payment processing with another company and is stuck in a contract? This is when you need to be prepared to think about the value-added services you can offer. From gift and loyalty programs to check processing to working capital, there are several value-added services that businesses could benefit from. Be prepared to speak about these; you never know what can come from it. Some of your prospects may not even be aware that you provide any services beyond payment processing.
Buyers want a salesperson they can trust. They want someone who will be there to offer advice and provide the best solutions to improve their businesses. New technologies constantly enter the payments industry, such as mobile payments, EMV, and new POS systems. With these developments, your prospects and customers will look to you for help in making an informed decision on what the best solutions are for them.
Taking notes is extremely important for sales professionals. You speak with many different people every day, and it can be difficult to keep track of your conversations. While you're in the field, track what you've been up to, who you spoke with and when you should follow up with them. Taking notes will make your life much easier.
Incorporate these sales tips into your next sales pitch, and you'll be on your way to closing more deals.
As Cayan's Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales efforts including organizational structure, sales forecasts and overall strategies. He also oversees all sales activities within the company's agent channel, a growing network of more than 400 independent representatives throughout the United States. Michael has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. An individual who has made numerous key contributions, Michael was the architect behind the design and development of the agent channel. Michael is a graduate of Merrimack College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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