By Natasa Cvijanovic
The continued transformation of the payments industry is visible in every sector of our sphere, but what about the evolution of selling? What, if anything, have you changed about your sales approach? Is anything different in light of changes in our industry?
Maybe you haven't thought about it, but I'm willing to bet that your sales techniques have evolved over the last 10, 15 or 20 years, otherwise you wouldn't be here. New and additional regulations, such as PCI, EMV, etc., new services, and reinvention of POS systems and pricing structures as we moved from 60 interchange rates and tiered pricing to over 600 card types (to name only a few influencing factors) compelled everyone to pivot and reinvent their sales strategies to survive.
The competition has increased threefold, with new ISOs popping up around every corner. All challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic, exposing flaws in current sales techniques and product offerings.
Although a lot has changed, for the most part, it has been for the better. ISOs and processors alike are emphasizing a more accommodating and flexible sales strategy. Ongoing changes in our dynamic industry continue to require adaptation in countless ways. Customization has replaced one-size-fits-all as the new standard. Each merchant faces a unique set of problems, and each one would prefer not to be addressed by a generic band-aid solution. Merchants and their needs are the focus of selling, not the sellers or the features of their products.
Even if they are unaware of some of their problems, merchants want and need your help finding solutions. This can be accomplished by implementing consultative selling techniques. Before prescribing solutions, merchant level salespeople (MLSs) must do their research, ask compelling and clarifying questions, and listen even more intently than they may have thought necessary previously.
This sales strategy is intended to result in a sale by completing the four requisite steps listed below:
MLSs should be armed and well prepared with all pertinent information gathered during the lead generation process. Research conducted before the meeting will help in preparing the right questions. You are attempting to determine what merchants' pain points are, much like the doctor mentioned in the preceding example who asks questions about symptoms the patient is experiencing.
Assuming you've done your homework on the prospect, start by asking questions relevant to the products you sell. Listen more than you talk. This takes a lot of discipline for many, but I cannot stress enough the importance of listening. Too many MLSs tend to interrupt to offer solutions, but if you jump in too soon—and while they are talking—you'll miss the opportunity.
You must, of course, understand your product line to determine which product will best serve your merchant's needs. And, as an MLS, you must not only articulate the need and identify the product that meets it, but also explain why your product or service will assist the merchant in resolving the issue. Hopefully, you are no longer selling on price or cost savings analysis.
More than ever, the desires and needs of merchants and their cardholders and purchasing behaviors are considered when designing products and services, including offering flexible pricing structures, payment options and limited-time discounts. In addition to reducing red tape, sales leaders have given their MLSs more authority and freedom to tailor terms, pricing and product offerings to the needs of their merchants.
It is not the market or merchant's responsibility to adapt to your sales strategy. An MLS is responsible for adapting to the continued industry transformation. Making innovations to your products and services as well as a sales strategy is critical. You can reinvent your selling approach by creating solutions and a value-driven selling process designed to build trust and meet the needs of merchants, which keeps the sales process moving forward.
Much of this is easy to say but difficult to put into practice, as is the case with most business principles. Still, a consultative selling approach can help you gain merchants' trust and grow your business if implemented correctly. Your closing rate will improve if you follow these tips, get lots of practice and use the technique in the right situations. Keep reinventing to avoid irrelevance.
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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