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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 12, 2008 • Issue 08:05:01

Preparation power

By Daniel Wadleigh
Marketing Consultant

If you're not closing enough sales, it's time to address the issue of preparation. By that I mean you need to plan in advance what you are going to say, and be sure you use words that will get attention, have the impact you desire and convey credibility.

Here's an example:

If you are looking to increase your profit without advertising, discounts or tying up a lot of cash, we have been helping businesses like yours with our unique programs. Who in your company would want to hear about these revolutionary programs?

I didn't go into details or even mention credit card processing. I assume you have services like check conversion, gift cards or other ways to make or save customers money. Adapt this opener to your situation, but remember, value added services help generate appointments and can elevate you above the competition.

The three likely responses to this kind of approach are:

  1. Get out of town.
  2. I'm not the one to talk to; Jim will be in at 4 p.m.
  3. Keep talking, buddy.

If a gatekeeper or decision maker asks for more information, be prepared to provide a thumbnail description of what you offer; otherwise, you will be considered untrustworthy and summarily dismissed.

Also, create a one-page data sheet you can hand out. It doesn't have to dig into the details, but it must provide meaty information to complement your opening line.

This type of preparation is not easy, but it is crucial because it helps identify qualified leads. All sales come from leads: no leads, no sales.

Strike when the iron is hot

If a gatekeeper accepts your handout and tells you when a decision maker is returning to the office, do not get lazy and telephone later for an appointment. You have already done the legwork to find the decision maker; you haven't been blown off.

And, if you've made your leaflet enticing, the person in charge will be primed to learn more just as you walk back through the door. It is an opportune time to explain how you can help your potential customer save money, increase business or both.

If you follow up by phone, you run the risk of being lumped in with the hoards of less than ethical salespeople and telemarketers who bombard business owners with questionable get-rich-quick schemes.

If you've hit the jackpot and been asked to keep talking on your first visit, do your condensed pitch and then ask, "When would be a good time to sit down and discuss all the opportunities available?"

Why do this? You don't want to pitch to your prospect over the counter between customers. Plus, you need to ensure all decision makers will attend your sales presentation.

To make a one-legged pitch is the kiss of death because one individual will not be able to remember all the salient details and convey them convincingly. Also, the first thing other decision makers will ask is how much it will cost - before they hear about all the unique benefits of your products and services.

Quoting a price to only one member of a decision-making team is comparable to giving a price over the phone - an ineffective practice.

To get the perfect conditions for closing a sale, you need to be taken seriously. Do that by saying, "The only requirement my company has for setting up presenta-tions is that all decision makers be present. There's a lot of good information, and there's no way for anyone to remember it all."

This will make sense to your prospects. It's the truth. It works.

If a prospect won't set up a meeting, you probably had a weak chance to sell them anything anyway, and it's time to move on - unless you are offering something revolutionary. In that case, it's worth pushing harder. But if it's not the case, you will likely offend someone if you don't back away. And that will not serve your business in the long run. end of article

Daniel Wadleigh is a veteran marketing consultant in the payments industry. He offers an educational program that is available on a PowerPoint presentation and designed to help ISOs elevate themselves above the competition. For more information, contact Daniel at 512-803-0956.

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