By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
Moviegoers know the expression "be right back" is code for you'll never see me again. In a similar way, certain triggers in merchant services can foreshadow a lost sale. For me, it was being offered a free drink. After a few of these incidents, I began to notice that merchants who encouraged me to drink "on the house" had gotten their banks to meet or beat my proposal.
Most merchant level salespeople (MLSs) have similar stories to share around the campfire. But let's recognize the real losers in these transactions. Merchants who play us lose more than they gain. Their processors could have proactively upgraded services instead of reacting to a competitive offer. These merchants chose to stay with their existing providers instead of partnering with an MLS with deep knowledge, analytical skills and tailored processing solutions.
Veteran MLSs will tell you that selling is a numbers game. Keep a full pipeline of prospects to improve your odds and keep your eye on your long game, they advise. This will improve your closing ratios and disperse your focus from someone who turns you down to a broader field of qualified, deserving customers who would appreciate the value you can bring to their companies.
Most entrepreneurs and salespeople enjoy controlling their own destinies and paychecks, but not everyone has this luxury. Imagine having no direct control over your performance. Sales trainers, for example, do their best to influence salespeople and may even ride along on sales calls. But ultimately, it's the trainees, not the trainers, who are responsible for a training program's success.
Considering how much a sales trainer has invested in your success, it might make sense to listen to his or her message. I've been exposed to all kinds of programs, some better than others. The best ones allowed me to be myself and the worst ones tried to remake me into a chat bot who looked and sounded like everyone else in the company. You don't have to be a robot to tow the company line, especially in this age of personalization. I know it may sound disingenuous to say, "be yourself," but there are ways in which sales trainers can cultivate authentic, one-of-a-kind MLSs. Recognizing that salespeople are independent by nature would be a good place to start.
My favorite advice from a sales trainer is, "Don't get mad, get fascinated." As service industry professionals, we have endless opportunities to get fascinated out there. In selling and in writing, I've learned to balance the good with the bad by not jumping to conclusions when things go wrong. Keep an open mind, because stuff happens; there may be reasons why someone turned you down or didn't show up to an interview or sales call. Getting fascinated also keeps the focus on other people instead of yourself and makes things less transactional, a critical skill for MLSs and journalists alike. When you care about the facts, you can deliver a targeted solution or get to the heart of a story. People tend to tell you what they think you want to hear. Reading the room and watching body language can help you capture the subtext of what they're saying.
Author and keynote speaker Susan Roane believes that people who pay attention to others increase their own opportunities. In How to Create Your Own Luck, Roane wrote that things happen because we: are open; observe a situation; take action; lend a hand both literally and figuratively; determine that our agenda was not as important as helping a stranger or friend; pay attention; listen to others; and talk to strangers.
It's worth remembering that selling is not just a numbers game; it's a probability game. If you're jumping through a lot of hoops to win new business, you may want to rethink your strategy. Spend more time with merchants who appreciate you and understand your value proposition. This will improve your odds of developing long-term, profitable relationships based on integrity, trust and mutual respect.
Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and managing director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content provider. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.
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