By Natasa Cvijanovic
Over the years, Street SmartsSM has proven to be an invaluable resource for providing us educational information, the latest industry trends and sales advice. Numerous topics have been discussed, and before we go any further, let's talk about the most fundamental need of our industry, which is the same for all of us: more new customers.
Are you finding it increasingly difficult to break through the noise and connect with quality prospects like many sales professionals in our industry? How can we attract new merchants?
It is not always easy to write new business. However, there are several approaches you can take to differentiate your company and yourself from the competition and capture the attention of your prospects. Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and every entrepreneur strives to grow their customer base. When a new salesperson joins our team, we start with the basic strategies of finding and retaining customers.
Are you using social media to build your brand locally and in your community, as well as to promote your services? There is no reason why you shouldn't use social media platforms to market your services and attract new clients, especially with thousands of potential clients available to you at your fingertips. But how you do it is important. Are you providing high-quality content for your prospective clients on those platforms? Also, consider joining industry panels and webinars, as well as speaking at events where your niche merchants are present. When large merchants evaluate processing companies, they look for more than just the lowest rate. They want to do business with people who understand their industry and the latest trends.
"Honesty is the best policy" is a phrase we've all heard before, but unfortunately, many companies and salespeople in our industry still choose to ignore it, and over the years, our industry has become riddled with gimmicks. It's a shame. While things are improving, merchant service salespeople today work in an environment created by a few unethical and dishonest individuals looking to make a quick buck.
These con artists have had no interest in building long-term relationships with their merchants, or should I say victims? Their lack of interest in developing long-term relationships with merchants works in your favor. As a salesperson, you truly have the power to change this and instill a culture of honesty.
Merchants want to do business with companies and individuals who embrace honesty which is an absolute must if you want to get the most out of your business. Clearly, I am extremely passionate about this subject. If you want to break into networks of ideal clients, whatever that means to you, keep in mind that your reputation precedes you in the business world.
To ensure that prospective merchants are interested, write quality merchants, hire your own high-quality people, and please, please partner with a reputable ISO or a processor. Merchants don't give a second thought to your payment processor, they know you and your reputation is at stake.
Listen more than you speak. Listening to our loyal merchants is another really good way for us to attract new ones. Responding to emails, personally calling individuals who have complaints and mailing handwritten notes is simple but effective.
Asking for referrals seems straightforward, but I can't tell you how many times I've asked a sales partner, "Did you ask for referrals?"—only to be met with a blank stare followed by, "I don't know why I didn't." Getting referrals is easier than you think. The most difficult part is having the courage to ask for them.
Some salespeople believe that asking for referrals will offend their merchants. The truth is that if your merchants are happy with your service, they will gladly recommend you to others. That is why it is critical that you build strong relationships with your merchants.
Referrals are the most effective and easiest ways to generate new business, but far too many salespeople simply sit back and wait for their existing merchants to refer their friends and family to them. And if you are one of those salespeople, you may find yourself waiting for a long time. If you want to grow your business, you have to ask for referrals and come up with a strategy for soliciting referrals from each and every one of your existing merchants.
Are you networking and generating word-of-mouth through your involvement in local networking organizations and events? The adage "Dig a well before you're thirsty" applies. By establishing a network of colleagues and business contacts, you ensure that when you require an introduction to a prospective merchant or another opportunity to expand your business, you can rely on your network for assistance.
Can you call on your network today to help you grow your business? If not, there is still time. However, taking inspiration from 35th U.S. President John F Kennedy, ask not what your networking group can do for you. ... It is important to maintain an attitude and intention of assisting others when networking rather than focusing on how they can assist you. You can build more meaningful relationships that result in new customers by focusing on assisting others with their business needs.
Is reviving old merchants a strange concept? This is a common practice in our company. Something old can be transformed into something new. Every few months, we go through our database of former clients, including those who signed up but were never installed. We call them, send an email, and then mail them a handwritten note as a follow-up.
For decades, teaming up with complementary businesses also has been a successful strategy for top producers. Partner up with other local businesses that aren't directly competing with yours. Think about how you can market to each other's customers to generate new business. In addition to more obvious referral sources like agent banks and trade associations, CPAs, for example, or that friend who works as a commercial insurance agent (whose business you may not have been able to write) would make excellent referral partners.
And, of course, my personal favorite, cold calling, which deserves its own article ...
Natasa Cvijanovic, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Payments, has a proven track record within the payment industry of cultivating successful relationships with ISOs, MLSs and strategic partners. In developing national sales channels, she provides training and coaching to sales partners to enable them to become better business partners and advocates for their merchants, and to assist them in building portfolios producing steady residual streams. She is also dedicated to consistently delivering high levels of professionalism, integrity, dependability and trustworthiness. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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