By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
As salespeople, we tend to reward others who are good at selling and punish those who break the rules. But some people are in a class of their own, like the merchant level salesperson (MLS) who informed me that I'd soon be out of business unless I accepted his offer.
Never mind that most of my clients pay by ACH or check or that I've managed to prevail at a time when millions of other small businesses have closed. He could have praised my resilience but chose instead to traffic in fear by exploiting COVID-19 and its economic impacts. He then proceeded to do the exact opposite of everything we're taught in Sales 101.
Just for fun, I'll share his recipe for killing a deal:
Ask me what I like about my current payments acceptance methods so you can tell me why I'm wrong. Educate me about how you can fix things, then embed your proposal in a DocuSign agreement that prompts me to sign on every page. Invite me to participate in new recurring revenue streams while explaining how you will fully control my payment flows because you know what's best.
Not a good look. I suspect the MLS could improve his closing ratio by hiring someone else to sell for him, someone who doesn't begin a sales call with insults. Like my favorite Joe Diffie song, I sometimes want to ask, "Is it cold in here, or is it just you?"
While the MLS wasn't a shining example of diplomacy, he was indeed a terrible warning of what we look like when we put ourselves ahead of our customers. In a way, I'm grateful to hold up that worst case scenario as a reminder that payment processing is a relationship business, and relationships are not once-and-done events. They take work, constant tweaking and active listening.
It's common knowledge that salespeople are the easiest people to sell, because they know the playbook. When a salesperson does everything by the book, salespeople just have to say yes. My husband saw this in action when we were car shopping. The salesperson nailed it by making the sale all about me. He listened to my preferences and concerns and tailored his presentation accordingly. He played a fitting counterpoint to my other example, whom I will call Mr. Wrong.
Mr. Wrong's most egregious failure was bigger than any of the small mistakes he made in the presentation; it was the simple fact that he didn't care enough about me to consider things from my perspective. This is a common pitfall for salespeople and journalists alike. In both cases, mastering our profession requires us to examine people and issues from multiple points of view.
I do agree with him about one thing, however: trying to sell me processing was a waste of time.
Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and managing director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content strategist. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.
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