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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 11, 2019 • Issue 19:11:01

Use words to save, not kill deals

By Jeff Fortney
TouchSuite LLC

I've written previously about a phrase that encapsulates the highest negative effect on sales: words kill. Misusing specific words, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and talking instead of listening are all key aspects of using words in a way that kills deals.

Misuse of words has tremendous impact during sales calls. But there is another side to the misuse of words that has just as great, or even greater impact. It is in the communications flowing back and forth between merchant level salespeople, ISOs and their processing partners.

Difficulty in this area has become common. After a long, drawn out, sales process, a merchant finally signs, and the application is submitted. During the process, documentation is needed to proceed (for this example, let's say bank statements are needed). Statements are requested from the agent, but since the sale was difficult, the MLS tries to find a "work around," but is told the statements are still needed.

The agent pleads, argues, screams, and after rounds of back-and-forth communication, finally asks for the bank statements. The merchant provides them and is finally approved. The time from submission to approval is seven days, but now the merchant has changed his mind. As a result, it's a loss for the MLS and their partners.

Where the blame for the failed sale is placed depends on which side of this scenario you are on. The MLS blames the processor for requesting unnecessary, added documents. The processor blames the agent for not just asking for what was needed in a timely manner. The relationship is damaged. Yet if everyone looks at this objectively, and examine both sides, the odds are the problem is not either of these reasons. The cause is the time delay, and that cause was likely all about communications between the processor and the agent.

Three modes of communication are commonly used for communication between processors and agents today: phone, text and email. The preferred form of communication depends on many factors, but the deciding factor is often simplicity. From a processor's perspective, it's simple to just send an email and move on to the next application. From an MLS's perspective, a quick text gives the ability to move on to the next sale.

When used correctly, communication options can move sales along. However, it's all too common to use means of communication as crutches to avoid having conversations. This often leads to delayed responses, confusion, frustration, lost business ‒ and lost relationships.

Choosing the proper form of communication can avert problematic situations. And choosing the right form requires understanding facts about each method, as follows:

  • Emails: Email messages are ideal when sharing documentation, creating a paper trail, and responding to requests. They can also communicate to a number of people at the same time, ensuring the message is given clearly to multiple people.

    Email does not create urgency, because people typically don't read emails upon receipt (especially salespeople who are often in the field). An email exchange is not comparable to a real-time conversation. It's also a simple way to avoid conversations. "I sent an email" is often an explanation when something goes sour.

  • Texts: Texting is the preferred option by a growing number of people. I may be a contrarian, but the primary purpose I see in using texts in business communications is when in front of a client or customer, and a quick response to a basic question is needed.

    I believe texting is overused today as a communication tool. It is expected that when a text is sent the recipient will immediately respond. It's also expected that the person receiving the text will understand the language and symbols used (subtle distinctions between some emoticons, for example). Ultimately, between typos, symbols and abbreviations, a text has great potential for fostering confusion and error. And a text message exchange is not the same as a conversation.

  • Phone: The telephone is a tool for conversation. It facilitates neither a documentation share nor a paper trail. In fact, unless recorded, a phone conversation does not create any trail. You cannot submit a merchant application, nor can you complete any needed added documentation. The phone does create a sense of urgency, though, and is the only form where a person's tone is easy to discern. Emotions can be perceived even when someone doesn't voice them.

    In emails and texts, tonality can be implied as well as inferred (and often the tonality the recipient infers is not what the sender intended). This can create an adverse emotional response, leading to negative consequences. There is typically little confusion once a phone conversation is complete. And a five-minute conversation can save hours, even days.

Although words can kill deals, skilled use of words can build trust, convey urgency and save business relationships. When choosing a form of communication, it should be objectively clear that the best way to eliminate confusion and expedite results is to have a real conversation. And the best way to accomplish that is by a phone call or in-person visit.

A real-time conversation can address the parties' underlying motivations better than any other form of communication. In the example I gave above, if the processor had phoned instead of sending an email, the discussion could have centered on why the added documentation was needed, and the response could have been expedited. Of if the MLS had called to discuss the processor's request after receiving the email, a delay could have been avoided – and the deal could have been saved.

Don't automatically default to whatever form of communication you prefer. If anything, default to the telephone. Remember, the deal you save may be your own. end of article

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 jfortney@touchsuite.com.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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