By Jeff Fortney
When I was in first grade my family moved to a small town in California's Central Valley. It had no shopping malls or major department stores. There were grocery stores and a pharmacy, but the closest big-box store was 90 miles away.
This was before Amazon, the Internet, and even before the Walmarts of the world. There were, however, catalogs aplenty. Twice yearly, the mailman would deliver catalogs from major stores labeled Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. In November, the Christmas toy catalog would arrive. I'd use it for my Christmas list, circling items I liked and starring those I really wanted.
Today catalogs are rare. However, once a year I receive a tool catalog, and feelings from my youth return. I read it like a book, looking for that one tool I "definitely "need. I discovered there are tools to make every job easier. Often this has led me to purchase new tools to complete pending projects.
The merchant level salesperson's (MLS's) toolbox should contain tools required for success in today's payments world. However, it's easy to keep adding tools – even if used only once. I tend to do that with my home tools, and my toolbox becomes filled with items I don't need, adding weight that makes it cumbersome.
An MLS's toolbox risks comparable problems. Many contain solutions that were used once, but now have little use. They occupy mental space at a time when it's imperative to have the best tools at the ready. To ensure your toolbox is in tiptop shape, it's time to examine it. First, determine what you need. Ask what your market is. Identify this by what is sold (food, widgets, etc.) and how it's sold. Ask who your target audience is, including targeted generation(s).
Then examine what you have in your toolbox and how each solution addresses your market and target audience's needs. Think in terms of knowledge more than solutions. Previously, you could become an expert on one terminal and sell that to all. Today's merchants don't want your one-size-fits-all solution, or terminal.
To succeed today, you need working knowledge on many topics. You needn't be a subject matter expert, but you must be able to answer basic questions. Those who can do this will enjoy a simpler, more profitable sales process. Following are three industry toolbox essentials:
The last (perhaps most important) tool is a trusted adviser: someone you trust who has the requisite knowledge to answer your questions. Logically, it should be your processing partner. If your partner won't or can't offer this support, it may be worth reexamining the relationship – for growing to the next step requires a healthy toolbox. And a healthy toolbox requires knowledge most of all.
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.
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