By Jeff Fortney
People buy for personal, compelling and emotional reasons. The key to successful sales is identifying that emotion – that pain – and addressing it. This makes price less of a concern and builds long-term relationships.
This philosophy has served me well. However, when I explain this approach to a group of salespeople, invariably someone will mention a situation that has happened to all of us.
A merchant level salesperson (MLS) walks into a potential merchant customer, introduces himself and, before the MLS can say more, the merchant unleashes a wave of verbal abuse.
The merchant rants about the unethical approach of "you guys" selling payment services, how you all are crooks, and the merchant never wants to talk to another one of "you thieves" again. The merchant typically attaches adjectives I cannot repeat here, then orders the agent out.
For the telemarketer, it's primarily the same – except the exchange is entirely verbal and ends with the merchant slamming down the phone.
The result is you leave with a packed bag that (if not addressed) you carry the rest of the day. For face-to-face salespeople, this baggage either leads them to become defensive, just waiting for the merchant to blow up so they can leave, or they become aggressive, looking for an opportunity to argue. In either case, they have no chance in gaining the account.
Carrying this bag is worse for the telesales rep. No matter how great the script, the agent's tone of voice will change, and negativity will infuse the call and subsequent calls, making the chance of success close to zero.
In both instances, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to concentrate on the emotions of the merchant, because the MLS's emotions are in the way. Everyone voices platitudes, such as:
Such comments do not address the key issue: baggage that results from these situations. It can affect your next few calls or become like Jacob Marley's chains if you ignore the impact and plug along. It won't go away soon unless you stop and unpack before your next call.
Take the following steps to empty that bag so it doesn't affect your future success:
If you're doing in-person sales, recognize how you feel and what you want to do. If you are angry, yell. If you are defensive, tell yourself the merchant just lost a potential customer, and mean it. Take five or 10 minutes to vent. But always finish with, "Nothing the merchant said is about me. He (or she) does not control my success. I do." Next, take five slow, deep breaths; repeat that line; and prepare for your next sale.
For reps doing telesales, this is much harder. In a typical telemarketing environment, it's not possible to vent or release emotions orally. Therefore, breathing is the first step – five deep breaths at minimum. Remind yourself the merchant has never seen you and likely won't. Take a minute to mentally replay a recent call that was successful and concentrate on the emotions you felt after that call. Relish those emotions. Let them replace the negative. Pick up the phone and make your next call with those thoughts fresh in your mind.
Once you complete these steps, you are ready to leave that baggage behind and make your next call. Remember, whenever you encounter verbally abusive merchants in the future, repeat these steps, and leave that bag at the door. Then "climb back up on that horse."
Jeff Fortney is senior vice president of business development and partnerships for TouchSuite LLC, a fintech company providing POS systems, payment processing, SEO solutions, working capital and marketing services to small and midsize businesses. A long-time payments industry professional and mentor, Jeff focuses on strengthening and developing corporate partnerships and evaluating new business to drive strategic growth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Self-ordering kiosks – a game-changing technology.
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