By Bill Pirtle
In the first article of this two-part series, I discussed the advantages to creating a list of family and friends in business to use for "practice" appointments, not to land accounts but to learn in a receptive environment. I also discussed how to set up the list and prepare for your first practice appointment. This article details how make the best impression and learn the most during these meetings.
Now, let's say you've arrived for an appointment with Uncle Bob. Imagine you greet him as follows: "Uncle Bob, thanks for letting me come in. I know you don't want to change your credit card processor. I just have a few questions about the relationship. Is there anything that frustrates you about your current processor?"
The most common responses will pertain to overall cost, unknown fees, customer service and timing of deposit. Do not go into sales mode. Just write the issues down and ask additional, probing questions, such as:
As a general rule, if you develop a solution to relieve three to five areas causing real pain each month, you will be in a much better position to close. Remember, people often fear change. If you cannot relieve enough pain for the merchant, you may not move the owner to change a system that is functional.
When doing your practice appointments with family and friends who like you, don't be shy about going bold with ideas in presentations. Back at Uncle Bob's, you've addressed questions uncovering pain related to credit card processing. Why not also ask how he tracks inventory, how he orders from his vendors or how he tracks labor or customers?
You are in a practice appointment with Uncle Bob. It's your chance to practice bold solutions. Why not cover relevant solutions, including merchant cash advance, cash discounting and POS systems? Also remember this quote from Hall of Fame Hockey player Wayne Gretzky. "You miss 100 percent of the shots that you don't take."
After you present a solution, give Uncle Bob time to respond. You have given him something to think about. Give him a moment. You might receive a pleasant surprise. Your uncle might say, "Sounds good. How do we proceed?" So anytime you are meeting a merchant ‒ whether practice, real appointment or cold calling ‒ make sure you have at least one blank application for any product or service you offer.
The "practice" appointment is a chance to cut your teeth in front of a live merchant. If you present a solution that meets the genuine needs of the merchant, there is no reason you cannot close that deal. Practice just means you will not push your prospect to sign. But then, you never want to push a merchant to sign.
When it's time in the presentation to complete the family member or friend's application for practice purposes, tell the individual you'll skip the requests for the Social Security, driver's license and employer tax ID numbers, but explain why the application requests that information. If the person volunteers the information, that might be a sign you're about to close the deal, but act as though you're still practicing until the family member either tells you he or she wants to switch or you reach the signature and guarantee area and the person wants to sign. If you hear, "That sounds great. I'd sign today if …" Get the answers the person seeks from your mentor or ISO resource person. Your primary goal is to prepare for an appointment with a tougher crowd, but if a friend or family member is seeking substantive answers to real issues, getting the answers may bring a sale.
If the appointment goes well and you present the solution, but it is not enough to close a deal at this time, use the "practice" experience to its full benefit. Ask what was missing from your presentation or what Uncle Bob thought of it overall. Then, before you close the meeting, ask if he knows anyone who might benefit from your product or service.
Whatever happens during a practice appointment, real appointment or cold call; always, always thank the merchant for his or her time. Being respectful of people from merchants to gatekeepers can only benefit you.
Once you conclude a practice appointment, return to your car and go over the details in your mind. If a mentor is with you, discuss the appointment. Jot down feedback you receive. If you received leads, check to make sure you have contact names and permission to use the name of your friend or family member. Note whether your friend or family member offered to call the referral or whether you asked the person to do so.
Use each call to learn something new. Expect that even on practice appointments, you may have surprises. Be ready for them. If someone is ready to sign, don't seem surprised. Have materials on hand for anything you offer.
Is it possible you will turn a yes into a maybe? Absolutely. If you share a bold idea with Uncle Bob, he might request a demo before he offers a check. But consider this: by being bold you showed that you were placing his needs for a total solution over your need for a quick sale. That will carry weight ‒ both in this opportunity and for any connections he might offer you.
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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