By Roger McNamara
Ascending the airstairs of the jet bridge, I felt my heart pounding. I punched in the security code for access, swung open the entry and proceeded to the aircraft's door. A quick turn left, and I raced through the first-class section of this massive L-1011 airliner. Ahead and a step down lay the cockpit.
As I entered, the hum of avionics surrounded me as I searched wildly for the aircraft's manual. Tucked in a panel toward the rear of the cockpit, there it was. I grabbed it and rustled through the pages. Nose gear hookup had to be in there somewhere. At last, I found it, complete with a diagram and instructions on how to hook up the tow bar. A few minutes later I was all set, heading back down to connect the aircraft to the push-back tug where, in about an hour, I would push 250 people and crew from the gate to start their journey to New York.
Years later, I often think about this experience. I had taken an airline job while waiting for a sales training class to start at a future employer. My first task, on my first night working at the airline, was to push a plane loaded with passengers from the gate. I can still hear the supervisor asking, "You know how to push a plane, right?" I answered that of course, I did when I did not have a clue. Not to worry. As a pilot, I knew everything was in the manual. How hard could it be and what was there to fear? I reasoned.
As B2B merchant supplier sellers, we have primal fears of rejection and the dreaded no from our prospects. As a result, we fear failing and not making our goal, and finally, some of us fear not being liked by our customers, which further adds to our sales woes. As B2B salespeople, we will face a no or two along the way, as well as a ton of rejection. It is part of the territory. The sooner we get used to it and accept it, the better off we'll be. Few prospects I've sold to have ever said, "We are so glad you're here; we've been waiting to buy from you."
Most sales situations are loaded with unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes we have the answers to the questions customers ask; other times we do not, and we seek an expert or manual for the correct answer. For the merchant services community, much time and effort have been spent getting B2C knowledge for this mature segment of our portfolios.
As we enter B2B sales, we may lack the requisite knowledge, accelerating the number of nos we get from prospects. Getting a statement, hoping to save a business a penny or two probably aren't words a supplier prospect wants to hear. So, what can we do?
The first step is to be realistic. You and only you are responsible for your destiny: you must be willing to self-evaluate, self-improve and self-educate constantly. Can you articulate the time-value of money and how you, as a merchant seller, can reduce days sales outstanding for a supplier? Are you able to talk the language of B2B, or are you speaking in B2C, a dialect suppliers probably don't recognize and one that will surely mark you as foreign to them?
You may have received excellent product training from a gateway that you will need in B2B. But can you address suppliers' concerns of price perception when they believe they have sufficient, less costly payment alternatives to credit card acceptance?
For today's sales professionals countless resources are available to enhance selling skills, motivation and learning. Using the excuse that you did not receive adequate training from your ISO will only go so far. Personal and professional development that should lead to success and advancement is your responsibility. Selling, as interactive as it is, can be a lonely profession. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people who can add to your success.
B2B selling is a far cry from selling an owner of a restaurant who has little choice but to accept plastic at their restaurant. We cannot avoid nos, but we can reduce them by becoming experts in B2B payments of all types. Separate yourself from your selling competition; make yourself smarter with the right resources. The better you become at your craft the less rejection you will receive, the increased success you will have, and the more trust and respect you will receive from your colleagues and clients. If you do this, you won't have to run for the manual an hour before takeoff to figure out how you will get the B2B job done.
Note: No one was hurt in the process of pushing out the plane. By all accounts, the passengers arrived at their destination and the aircraft flew for many more years. Phew!
Roger McNamara, president of Guide2Interchange LLC is a 25+-year veteran of the payments industry, most recently as the director of business development with American Express Co. in the United States. He has sold more than $200 billion worth of card processing and now leads a B2B merchant sales training organization. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-379-3151.
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