A Thing
The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 14, 2015 • Issue 15:09:01

The one-man show: Approaches in B2B sales

By John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC

Patricia Fripp is a professional sales, speech and presentation coach. She once said, "You don't close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise." The key point here is the concept of building an enterprise. Are you in this industry to build something great (long-term residuals) or are you in this industry for a quick dollar (activation and conversion bonuses)? Are you here to be a key player or just another statistic on an ISO's high turnover sheet?

My objective for this "one-man show" series of articles in The Green Sheet is to provide a transparent discussion on the various issues that a guy, or a girl, would juggle while operating as a one-man or one-woman show within our industry. For this article's discussion, I want to center in on the topic of business-to-business (B2B) sales approaches.

I believe that our industry has been deploying outdated B2B sales approaches that create delays, increase rejection and decrease the chances of merchant prospects ever converting into active merchant customers. These consequences decrease the probability of a merchant level salesperson (MLS) truly building something great within our industry, and increase the probability of said MLS failing to build any kind of momentum that will lead to true prosperity and independence.

My discovery

Since January 2007, I have operated as a one-man show, dealing with the various struggles of starting out totally green and subsequently growing into a full-fledged sales professional. I struggled a lot in 2007 and 2008, because in addition to the fact that I was a novice, our industry (for the most part) does not offer what would be considered high-quality B2B sales training regimes to help new MLSs truly grow into full-fledged sales professionals.

Most ISOs consider sales training to be little more than flooding agents' mailboxes with brochures, terminal overviews and various canned sales scripts focused on overcoming objections. There's literally no discussion done on market segments, product innovation, profit forecasts, strategic planning, time management, diagnosing a merchant's actual situation, prescribing tailored solutions, networking, integrated technology solutions, valued-added solutions, market trends, emerging markets, etc. But I reckon that the majority of ISOs are aware of the lack of quality training being provided, as they come to the table believing that only 10 to 15 percent of the MLSs they recruit will have some sort of staying power in the industry, while about 85 to 90 percent of them are likely to be gone within 12 months, having produced very little in terms of new account acquisition.

So what makes one agent have staying power and end up building something great within our industry, while another becomes a "stat" on the ISO's high turnover sheet? Obviously, a number of random variables can play a part, but ultimately I believe it rests on the decision to utilize a different approach to B2B sales than the one that's provided (out of the box) by most ISOs.

Two distinct approaches

There is what I call the traditional approach, which focuses on canned or robotic sales scripts that focus on overcoming objections. Coupled with this, is the recommendation to have MLSs calling random lists of standard industrial classification codes, parking their cars down the street and randomly walking into businesses, or just calling random industry listings out of the Yellow Pages. The mantra of this approach is: If you are smooth enough and make good rebuttals, sales will be flying through the roof.

Then there is what I call the New Age approach, which is actually not really new, as I believe that sales professionals with staying power have always used this approach over the traditional one offered by their ISOs.

The New Age approach is championed by the likes of Jeff Thull of the Prime Resource Group (www.primeresource.com). Thull stated that as a sales consultant, you should be a valued source of business advantage for your client, rather than just a person who goes through a series of sales material regurgitation. You should have access to products, platforms, data, knowledge, players, forecasts, trends, etc., that merchants do not have access to, which allows them to see you as a valued extension of their organization. This leads to not just new client acquisition, but also to the real key to making money in our space, and that's client longevity (allowing you to, as Fripp says, build something great).

Taking a new tack

To begin to tailor your sales office around the New Age approach, you should adopt the following mantra, which is much different than the traditional approach: If I haven't researched the prospective client and obtained some information on the merchant that puts him or her in a potential situation to utilize my solution offerings, then I should not spend my time contacting that particular prospect.

This means you would begin your sales prospecting procedures by conducting strong secondary market research and/or primary market research on your generic target group of prospective clients. This will allow you to gain information on an individual merchant's current situation to determine if you have a solution offering that could assist the business in such areas as reducing costs, increasing revenues, managing risks, managing change, managing regulations, financing and reducing fraud. Coupled with this, the solution you offer should be competitive in the marketplace in terms of more efficient pricing, supporting procedures and implementation timelines.

In my opinion, this approach is 90 percent of the sales battle. With this method, you actually win the sale before the sales process has even started. You won't have to sit on the telephone using canned rebuttals as if you were playing tug-of-war with prospects. Instead you will be having conversations, negotiating terms, discussing timelines, setting up call-back and follow-up procedures, etc. Your day will be filled with professional sales calls, rather than random telemarketing.

21st century sales

In my next article, I will provide more in-depth examples of the New Age approach to B2B sales and further discuss how it compares to the traditional approach. I will touch on the differences in sales pipeline delays, high ISO turnover, sales representative longevity and overall value creation on all sides of the equation (the merchant, the ISO and the independent agent).

I will also provide a more in-depth discussion as to why I believe the traditional approach is completely inefficient in this 21st century era of sales. Prospective clients are dealing with an assortment of advanced technical, financing, risk and compliance issues that require the expertise of a professional who can diagnose, innovate and prescribe tailored solutions. They do not need someone who can merely regurgitate a sales script.

This level of expertise requires professional knowledge, professional market research and professional product development, none of which are being provided by the traditional approach to B2B sales.

John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in accounting, business management and journalism. Tucker has nearly nine years of professional experience in commercial finance and business development. You can contact him by email at tucker@1stcapitalloans.com or by telephone at 586-480-2140. end of article

John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in accounting, business management and journalism. Tucker has nearly nine years of professional experience in commercial finance and business development. You can contact him by email at tucker@1stcapitalloans.com or by telephone at 586-480-2140.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

Prev Next
A Thing