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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 22, 2024 • Issue 24:04:02

Street SmartsSM

Speed dating in the internet age

By Allen Kopelman
Nationwide Payment Systems Inc.

I recently saw an old movie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Obviously a comedy, it was also a reminder of how things have changed since 1967, when that Mad-Men-era movie first came out. The hero, a young window washer named Ponty, gains knowledge from a book of the same title as the film and becomes an overnight success in corporate America.

A half-century later, there's no such thing as succeeding in business without trying; the internet has changed the game. If that movie came out today, Ponty would be getting his ideas from YouTube videos and applying for work at Indeed.com.

People treat each other differently in the digital-first age. Merchant level salespeople (MLSs) and prospective clients rely more on electronic communications and less on face-to-face selling. This is also the case in our personal lives. This was especially true during the pandemic, when dating apps replaced in-person gatherings and matchmaking.

Dating, business overlap

Even now, after the pandemic, when people freely patronize hotels, stores and restaurants, some keyboard warriors are still hiding behind a screen, communicating by text and email instead of attending meetings, tradeshows and community events. Regardless of how MLSs communicate with prospects today, the challenges they and other payment professionals face in their working and dating lives have similarities. Here are several examples.

  • Ghosting: We've all had it happen. You meet with a sales prospect, the planets magically align and then you never hear from that person again. You text, you phone, you email—all in vain. Get over it.
  • Zombieing: After ghosting you, some former prospects come back, noncommittal and offering no explanation, after they've run around for a while or had a bad break with your competitor. What did I tell you? Don't slide backward.
  • Textationships: Avoid these like the plague: these frantic thumb-typers will keep you on edge with communication that goes nowhere, leading to nothing, not even a date or a sale, just misery.
  • Lazy dates: Learn to recognize the signals these prospects give that they have no interest in doing business and no intent to buy but just love to waste your time and watch you squirm.
  • Breadcrumbing: Similar to lazy dates, these conversationalists keep things going, but their actions don't align with their words. They drag you along, but they have no intention of doing business.
  • Fizzling: Like a slowly-deflating balloon, fizzlers slowly unwind as they lose interest, taking your calls until they finally ghost you.
  • Pocketing: Beware of gatekeepers who take your calls but do not introduce you to a business owner or person of interest, wasting your time and keeping you away from the family.
  • Orbiting: Like a hawk slowly circling its prey, these irritating people will continue to drive by your home or visit your website but do not engage any further by allowing you to finalize the sale.
  • Instant gratification: People and technology platforms that are instantly available may not always be good for you or your business. Tell your merchants to think twice before they go running off to get their hearts broken by PayPal, Stripe or Square!

Get into the arena

Many of the behaviors we are seeing, both in business and in dating, are directly tied to an overdependence on technology. Our problem, in the payments industry and civilization in general, is that our technology has become so sharp, efficient, agile and responsive to our needs that we are falling into a trap of thinking we can use it to succeed without even trying.

To Teddy Roosevelt's point, people who go out and test their mettle in the arena deserve credit for succeeding or at least trying:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

I don't think ChatGPT could have said it any better.

There are cringeworthy moments in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, especially in its portrayal of women. I'm thankful that we don't objectify women the way they did back then and have more inclusive policies in place today.

It's a big moment for Ponty when he trades his window washer scaffold for the company's mailroom and begins his journey up the corporate ladder. In the end, he doesn't make it to the top, but he doesn't completely fail, either. He trades up by leaving the company and doing something completely different that doesn't involve stepping on other people to get ahead.

The moral, for me, is that our industry is a relationship business, driven by real people, not machines. Let's stop hiding behind our technology and get out in the arena, where we can connect with people and have meaningful discussions about how we can work together.


What do dating and business have in common?

For more of Allen Kopelman's insights on correlations between dating and business today, check out the B2B Vault podcast episode titled "Dating and Business? How Do They Correlate?"

Here's a link to this episode on Spotify: podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/b2b-vault/episodes/Dating-and-Business--How-Do-They-Correlate---B2B-Vault---The-Biz-To-Biz-Podcast--Episode-226-e2gr0oe/a-ab21e3n.

All episodes of B2B Vault: The Biz to Biz Podcast are available on all popular podcasting platforms. end of article

Allen Kopelman, a serial entrepreneur, is co-founder and CEO of Nationwide Payment Systems Inc. and host of B2B Vault: The Payment Technology podcast. Email him at allen@npsbank.com and connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/allenkopelman/ and Twitter @AllenKopelman.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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