Despite tremendous changes in the payments industry over the past sixteen years, which have been well documented in this and other publications dedicated to our sphere, basic principles that applied to the business of sales in 2004, when Paul H. Green published Good Selling!SM: Thirteen Weeks to Personal Success, still apply today.
This means that despite the fact that ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) have had to reinvent themselves repeatedly, their basic skills, knowledge and practices remain essential. Reinvention was driven by several factors: the commoditization of payment processing, the appeal of free equipment, technological advancements, consolidation within the industry, and the fact that leading with price became ineffective when compared with providing a full suite of targeted business products and services that complement payment processing.
It is true that the best MLSs today serve as business consultants, offering an array of products and services designed to improve merchants' efficiency and bottom lines. But successful MLSs are still consummate salespeople, just like MLSs of old. And traditional sales skills are the power behind our industry's increasingly sophisticated feet on the street.
According to Green, two enduring tools of the sales trade are: human skills, to understand and relate to people as individuals; and technical skills, to match your products or services to the customer's needs. However, these skills may be easy to state, but using them is far from easy to do. That's because MLSs work in an intensely competitive arena where they are tested daily. Green described four of these tests as follows:
Overcoming these four factors requires personal resilience, a quality inherent to some people more than others. However, resilience can be enhanced with the right support. Of course, not everyone is cut out for sales, but for those who are, resources abound. It's also wise to reinforce the basics, even drawing on wisdom from all-time greats. For example, according to Green, Benjamin Franklin advised that you should take one thing at a time and give a week's attention to that one thing, leaving all the others to their ordinary chance – and then repeat the process every 13 weeks.
What if you applied that advice to your sales skills? What would you emphasize this week?
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