By Bill Pirtle
Many financial companies that offer a salary to new, untested sales agents have a simple, proven strategy to decide which agents to support. The last step before being hired is an assignment to provide 200 names and contact information for family members and friends. The reason is to create an initial list for the potential hire and assigned mentor to call during training.
In such companies, closest family and friends are considered to be softball sales. Managers of new recruits want to help them succeed and generally are able to invest a little to help them on their way. However, due to overzealous use of these lists, new agents who compile them may find their receptions at Thanksgiving a bit chilly for a while, because no one likes high-pressure sales calls, especially from their own family or friends.
I recommend that new merchant level salespeople compile these lists, too, but with training uppermost in mind, not to make easy sales. Whether you train on the basics first or begin with your list does not matter. What matters is creating a complete list of your family and friends who own businesses, whether they currently accept credit cards or not. Also, note that as an independent (1099), or employed (W2) agent of a processor, your list will never be given to anyone else (as long as you do not enter it into a company-owned database). Only you will have access.
Ask questions of each business owner on your list. Find commonalities among their companies. Are there niches like car repair shops, dry cleaners or pizza places? Whether you come up with five businesses or 500, it is fine. Don't attempt to force anyone to participate. The less pressure you exert, the less likely it is you will cause rifts in your relationships.
Next, learn about the niches you have identified, and master business details such as how to properly complete an application for any service you wish to offer. Keep in mind this exercise is not just for beginning agents. Whenever you find a new product or service offering, complete a list like this. Merchant cash advance, POS systems, mobile processing options, high-risk processing: all can inspire agents to review who in the family can use these services.
OK, so you've gone through everyone you know and found 50 business owners. If you worked with financial companies like those I encountered after college, you'd immediately go through the list and drive for sales. With credit card processing, you may be tempted to do just that. Don't. Maintain your friendships and family relationships by avoiding hard sales mode.
Instead, create "practice" appointments. Say your Uncle Bob owns an auto repair shop, and you call to set up an appointment. Explain that you recently started working with XYZ Credit Card Processing, and you want to make an appointment with him for practice. He'll either tell you sure or say he doesn't want to switch processing.
If he doesn't want to switch, explain that the appointment is for your education and practice. Your primary goal is to understand what people in his position want and what questions they will ask. Tell him your goals in an appointment are to:
When he asks, "So you won't ask me to sign anything?" Reply, "Uncle Bob, I would not expect you to sign anything unless you thought it was something you wanted to sign. There are no expectations whatsoever. I just hope to learn more and maybe get a suggestion on someone who might be interested in this program."
Before the appointment, research your processor's underwriting rules for this business type, and find out what you can about the industry type. This is especially important if you intend to make this niche a target in your portfolio.
If you go alone, bring a pad and a pen to take down all the questions and discussions. If you have a mentor with you, let your family member or friend know the mentor is just an observer unless asked a specific question.
If you are new to sales, relax and treat this as a learning experience. If you are experienced in sales, take extra care to develop the best questions you can. See the sidebar for tips on how to do that. And in the second article of this two-part series, we'll delve into how to take charge of your conversation with Uncle Bob for maximum learning and potential gain.
Many new MLSs believe their job is to sell people on their products; they further believe that to do this, they need to tell people all about their products. Savvy, experienced sales agents will let newbies know that method will keep them poor. People do not want to be sold. Even your closest friends and family members will not sit for an hour meeting to have you talk at them.
Some sales classes will tell you, "You have two ears and one mouth; use them proportionately." The Sandler sales training course goes further. Sandler says that successful sales agents only talk about 20 percent of the time during a sales call. So, how do you keep control of the sales call while having the prospect talk 80 percent of the time? Ask open-ended questions and probe for more information. People buy on emotion and justify it with facts. The emotion to move someone to buy is best when it comes from within.
Sandler training identifies four primary buying motives:
With credit card processing, I'd look most closely at pain –now or future. Sandler training also teaches salespeople to listen for the following eight pain words: mad, frustrated, worried, upset, excited, tired, anxious and concerned.
Bill Pirtle is the author of the training book Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents. He is the District Manager for Clearent in the Detroit/Ann Arbor/Toledo market. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached at 248-444-8009 or on LinkedIn.
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