The Green Sheet Online Edition
March 24, 2008 • Issue 08:03:02
Changing lanes on the merchant expressway
How many times has this happened to you? You overcome all the objections that arise during a sales presentation, get a merchant to sign your application, and then your new client just doesn't want to change POS equipment. You can't even give a new machine away.
What do you do? Obviously, you take the path of least resistance and reprogram the old terminal. Who wants to lose a sale? In reality, you may lose that merchant sooner than you think.
The reprogrammed older terminal on your merchant's countertop will look like low-hanging fruit to your competitors. It will be easy for the next agent to point out the limitations of that old piece of hardware. Why let someone else build on your momentum?
We all know it's tempting to cut and run when you have a signed application in hand. But protect your sale and take a few extra minutes to educate your new merchant customers on the benefits of newer technology.
Even if they don't immediately agree to upgrade their credit card machines, they'll be better informed and less likely to be influenced by other acquirers who constantly try to earn their business.
The merchant view
Before we even get to the reasons for changing equipment, it helps to look at this from the merchants' perspective.
Many merchants spent considerable sums on their old machines. We need to exercise tact when addressing this issue. As tempting as it may be to say, "wow, you really got hosed," it might be more prudent to explain that you are helping them leverage their investment when they trade in legacy equipment for newer models.
The customers we serve are competing in a fast-paced, constantly changing industry. They are frequently short-staffed and overextended, and they manage their businesses according to priorities.
You've made the case for partnering with your company, and they've taken the time to sign your paperwork. When you suggest a hardware upgrade - before you even get to features and benefits - you need to overcome fear of the unknown.
The trusty POS terminal on the counter has worked the same way for years. Why would a merchant want the risk and uncertainty of installing a new system? How difficult will it be to learn the new machine? How will the merchant's business be affected if the new equipment fails?
The revenue factor
Once you've covered how well your company handles training, installation and support, as well as impressed upon your client how easy the new equipment or system is to use, it's time to introduce the value proposition of the equipment sale.
Certain words are so overused in our industry that we don't even hear them anymore. One example is "value added solution." Before you roll your eyes and say, that concept is so "last year," remember, it may still pack some punch with merchants.
The value added paradigm shift that rocked our industry a few years back can be summarized succinctly: This technology will not just save you money; it will make you money.
When you deliver the message that your product will make them money, how can merchants not listen? Forget sticker shock. Forget reluctance to change. Forget fear of the unknown. The attraction of recurring revenue will overcome objections.
All you have to do is demonstrate it. Pull a gift card from your wallet and ask your merchants if they'd like to have an electronic gift card program. Ask if they've ever considered offering a loyalty program to preferred customers.
These are proven ways merchants can attract more customers and keep them coming back. And most of these programs work best with today's enhanced hardware offerings.
The right fit
It's also important that the hardware you're presenting be compatible with a given merchant's business and industry. Pay-at-the-table solutions enable restaurants to accept PIN-based debit and cut down on fraud by keeping credit cards within view of cardholders.
Wireless devices help delivery businesses expedite payment and reduce fees by accepting swiped transactions at the point of purchase. MO/TO and e-commerce stores qualify for the best nonswiped rates when they have current software that includes address verification and meets industry regulations.
Small hotels process payments at checkout with lodging software on a stand-alone device. Internet protocol- (IP-) enabled credit card machines help high-volume businesses meet the relentless pace of commerce. Contactless technology is even faster than IP, and more contactless cards are being issued.
If your merchants accept checks, have you shown them the new check imagers that put check acceptance on par with credit cards - processed and guaranteed as automated clearing house transactions and in their bank just as fast?
When you've asked enough questions, you may find that some customers are annoyed that their current POS terminals occupy counter space. And the idea of getting another one isn't attractive to them either, even one sporting advanced features and benefits.
This may be an opportune time to introduce the virtual terminal concept. A virtual interface offers the same advantages of newer technology while freeing up valuable counter space.
The best route
When we empathize with the needs of our merchants, we can help them make informed decisions on the most compatible hardware for their businesses. There has never been more choice when it comes to countertop, wireless, contactless and check processing devices.
Manufacturers have downloadable brochures that can be used to present different options to discerning customers. A demonstration that showcases a high-end credit card machine will go a step further in demystifying newer technology, making it easier for a merchant to take the next step and order a new device.
Your service is only as good as the hardware that supports it. Each piece of hardware that you place represents you and your partnership with a customer.
So why not start each relationship with technology that puts you both in the fast lane on the merchant expressway?
Dale S. Laszig has a varied background in sales for First Data Corp., Hypercom Corp. and VeriFone. Her dedication to technology, writing and graphic design led to the formation of DSL Direct LLC, a marketing services company geared toward payment professionals. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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