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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 26, 2008 • Issue 08:05:02

Street SmartsSM

Potent presentations

By Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services

I'm about to give you keys that will unlock the door to superior bankcard presentations, which are essential components of the sales process. Sure, lead generation is critical. However, the primary purpose of generating leads is to secure opportunities to present your offering to prospects.

Please keep in mind, the approach I'm describing is not for cold calls. It is for selling to merchants with whom you have already secured appointments.

Find common ground

First, take two or three minutes to build rapport. The goal is to help business owners become comfortable with you. Before prospective customers will do business with you, they've got to like you, trust you and feel comfortable with you.

Uncover the owner's interests. Look for family pictures, a fish on the wall, college diplomas or sports memorabilia. Find a common thread. Ask appropriate questions. Inquire about hobbies, outside interests or family activities. Then let the person talk.

If you have difficulty establishing rapport based on the owner's personal interests, ask about business. Sample questions include:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How did you get started?
  • What did you do before?
  • How do you like having your own business?
  • A lot of business owners say that the hardest thing for them to do is attract and keep good employees. What is your experience with this?

Listening is key. What you learn while building rapport can be drawn upon later when closing sales.

Don't underestimate the importance and power of making personal connections. The stronger rapport you build with business owners in the limited time you have, the more psychologically difficult it will be for them to say no to what you offer.

Question with care

To sell effectively you must become adept at asking questions that reveal the actual needs of your prospects. The whole idea behind asking questions and encouraging feedback is to get potential clients talking. Let prospects tell you what they like, want, need and expect. If you can get them to do this, you can tailor presentations to individual merchants, find a way to meet specific objectives and, ultimately, get sales.

Create an interview questionnaire. Be prepared, and always ask leading questions that will draw you closer to understanding what your prospects are looking for. People make emotional decisions, not rational decisions. Ask several questions that make your prospects think. The type of questions you ask will determine the amount of emotion that surfaces.

How many times have you felt misunderstood? Make sure your prospects are aware that you are listening and that you understand what they are saying.

Dustin Niglio, a GS Online MLS Forum member, posted the following excellent sample questions:

  • What system do you use to process credit cards? How has it been working for you?
  • What do you do when you have a problem with it? How long does it usually take you to resolve those problems?
  • Do you thoroughly inspect your merchant statements every month? How long does your month-end reconciliation process take?
  • When was the last time you priced out your merchant account? What was the end result? Why?
  • How's business going in general?
  • Is your competition pretty fierce?
  • What's your primary means of marketing your business?
  • How much progress have you made establishing your online presence, implementing a gift and loyalty card program or integrating your merchant account with your accounting program?

After you have a good sense of what prospects desire, it's time to build a custom presentation based on fulfilling their needs.

Part of any bankcard presentation to merchants who already accept cards should include a review of the transaction processing services and equipment they already have in place.

Become expert at reading credit card processing statements. Work hard upfront and identify what your prospects are really looking for. Then you won't confuse or overwhelm them with unnecessary information.

After you review a statement, go to the appropriate pages in your sales book and explain what you can do. Do a cost comparison; show what your prospects could be saving. Sell the sizzle of new technology.

For example, explain that your company is a complete POS facility and, as such, can handle all types of transactions - not just credit cards.

Make specific recommendations

Card processing presentations can be simple, yet confusing because of the many elements involved in our services. The key is to realize you must create relationships. Then the most important thing is to sell value before you sell price. Your presentations can be formal or very conversational and low key. The idea is that the presentation be unique to each company, based on your initial qualifying meeting, preliminary research and interview.

Presentations can be done interactively over the phone, computer, fax or e-mail, or through other forms of media such as face to face with a laptop or with a presentation book containing a flip chart with information related to your offering.

The pivotal presentation step is your actual recommendation. Discuss your prospect's business and how it can be improved. Describe specifically how you can add value, and make a recommendation that includes inviting your prospect to become your merchant.

Presentations should be interactive and dynamic. You should know your prospect's hot buttons and be pushing them frequently. The prospect should be listening to you. Keep it that way by focusing on the merchant's needs and encouraging feedback. Be honest; be genuine. This fosters trust and credibility.

Be in top form

Here are some things to keep in mind while doing presentations:

  • Use your prospects' names at the right time.
  • Use vivid words, and relate to your prospects' personal experiences.
  • Talk about the benefits prospects will receive; speak their language.
  • Make ideas tangible by giving concrete examples.
  • Connect emotionally and intellectually so prospective customers will like and trust you more than your competitors.
  • Include fun, relevant success stories. Facts tell; stories sell.
  • Display relaxed attentiveness. Be focused and sincere. If you appear nervous or unsure, you may seem devious or incompetent.
  • Clear your mind and listen to your prospects, then mirror what they say back to them.
  • Request and welcome feedback.
  • Always include full disclosure of all fees associated with moving forward and becoming your merchant customer.
  • If a presentation begins to falter, be prepared to walk away. Do not compromise your core principles or values to make a deal.

Ask, assume, surmount

If you want a merchant's business, assume you will get it. Start filling out your paperwork. If that doesn't work immediately, ask for the account. What good is a presentation if you never ask for the business and close the sale?

Objections will often arise in the presentation phase of the sales process. Objections are really opportunities. The first step in dealing with objections is to validate them. First, acknowledge; then probe. Find out just what stage of the selling process is stuck. Uncover the real concern and help solve the prospect's problem.

Treat objections as questions, and offer solutions. Work to develop a win-win situation. Ask for clarification, maintain good eye contact, monitor nonverbal messages and take responsibility for miscommunications.

Objections mean the prospect is listening to you, that you are being taken seriously and that you need to work toward resolution.

Make a list of the common objections you hear, and be prepared to resolve them with each prospect. When a prospect raises one of these objections, let the individual know you have heard it before and provide information that will alleviate the prospect's concerns.

Close, close, close again

Experts suggest the average sale takes place after the fifth no. (If a merchant says, I want to think it over, that is a no.) Remember, you must find creative ways to ask for the business six or seven times, minimum.

Following are some tips on doing presentations from members of the MLS Forum:

  • It's very important to listen to what a merchant is looking for and then create a presentation for them. If a merchant is concerned with tech support and customer service, don't give them a presentation about pricing and cash advance. It also shows your level of commitment to earning their business and (hopefully) sets you apart from the next guy.

    I recommend laptop presentations, if possible. I think you come across as more polished and professional, although I know some disagree with me there. - Doug Small

  • Go in au naturale - nothing but yourself baby - fully clothed, of course, but leaving the laptops, presentation books, and so on behind and just having a candid discussion with the merchant. Honest, straightforward conversation with a lot of listening and questioning ... discussing what the merchant wants, not what I want to sell them.

    I was talking to the owner of a company the other day, and one of their salesmen overheard our conversation. He came up to the owner and told her she needs to hire me ... said to her 'not five minutes ago you were telling him you were not interested and were totally satisfied with your current company, and look at you now. You have your statements in front of him, and you are both going over what you are being charged.'

    All I did was listen and talk honestly and with knowledge. Nothing special, no pitch books, no teaser rates, nothing, just honesty. Oh, and, yes, I did get the account. - gmartin (also known as Gary Martin)

  • I'm with you, Gary. A great man by the name of Alan Robbins calls this form of selling, schmoozing. I had the privilege of observing his technique up close for about three years. The clients never felt sold, yet they did buy. - Gypsy70 (also known as Cesar)

  • It is all about building trust and relationships. I've heard that it takes seven 'touches' on the average to close a sale, and we all know that persistence is the key. ... I closed a sale a couple of weeks ago on a convenience store that I have been calling on for six years, and I have been a fairly regular customer there.

    Most folks are resistant to change, and I finally caught the owner at a time when his credit card terminal was giving him trouble ... sold him two terminals, two PIN pads and a MagTek check reader. - Slick Streetman (also known as David)

Have you mastered the basics? Are you asking great questions and effectively interviewing merchants to understand what they are looking for? Are you assuming the sale throughout your entire presentation? Are you asking for the order? Are you getting at least seven yes answers to closing questions?

Remember, unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. end of article

Jason A. Felts is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida-based Advanced Merchant Services Inc., a registered ISO/MSP with HSBC Bank. From its onset, AMS has placed top priority on supporting and servicing its sales partners. The company launched ISOPro Motion, its private-label training program, to provide state-of-the-art sales tools and actively promote the success and long-term development of its partners. For more information, visit www.amspartner.com, call 888-355-VISA (8472), ext. 211, or e-mail Felts at jasonf@gotoams.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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