The Green Sheet Online Edition
July 14, 2008 • Issue 08:07:01
Expert adviser: Value add incarnate
Merchants need expert advisers. When it comes to bankcard processing and data security, retailers rely on experts to guide them through the complicated processes that allow them to accept payment cards in a timely and secure fashion.
"Expert" really means trustworthy, competent and helpful. ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) who can legitimately claim to be accomplished in their field are likely also the most successful ISOs and MLSs out there.
To be an expert adviser is to be respected by peers and merchants, which should be the goal of every professional in the payments industry.
But you can't claim expertise until you master three basic things:
- Talk the talk. Take time to grasp the language of the payments industry. Understand interchange, value added services and all the new technologies. In effect, know what you're talking about.
- Walk the walk. Deliver on your industry knowledge and expertise by making merchants' lives easier.
- Effectively advertise to merchants that you can both talk the talk and walk the walk.
If it sounds easy, it isn't. You'll need hustle, drive, tenacity and patience to achieve these three steps and one day be considered an expert adviser.
Make calls, take calls
Experts are magnanimous with their time and knowledge. They over-deliver to merchants by always going that extra mile.
They take calls at dinnertime and make personal calls to ask merchants how things are going and if any service can be improved.
Experts also give away advice. They take pride in informing merchants about the best solutions for their businesses and the most effective technologies for implementing those solutions.
But retailers do not need to be in expert advisers' portfolios to receive this wisdom. That's another hallmark of expert advisers: generosity.
Make money, save money
Merchants are always open to individuals who can make and save them money. That's what experts are for - to help make clients' lives as stress-free as possible.
A few examples illustrate this point.
I had an auto service company for a client. The company's reps had a habit of recommending costly services or additional repairs to customers' cars. I suggested they offer services that didn't cost customers anything.
For instance, rotate the tires for free or top off the fluids at no extra charge. These are the little things that demonstrate extra value; they stay in customers' minds and cement your expert status.
Another example comes from a heating-cooling contractor. He put mothballs on the outside contactors of his customers' heating and air conditioning units to prevent spiders and ants from shorting out $150 parts.
He also dropped chlorine tabs in drain pans to prevent algae build-up and flooding. Only an expert in a given field would know to do that.
I suggested the contractor inform his customers of these extra, free services he performed for them. Customers appreciate that extra level of attention because, in the long run, it saves them time, money and grief.
But don't ever confuse a genuine desire to take complete care of customers' needs with trying to sell customers new services. Experts are not greedy for new business.
If you are grasping for personal gain, you will lose the trust and loyalty of your clients, and they will be less likely to refer their friends, acquaintances and colleagues to you.
Salespeople sell products and services; experts build relationships. Satisfy customer needs, exceed basic service levels by using your extensive knowledge and be genuine in your desire to help.
Your clients will not just respect you, they will love you.
If you have reached that supreme peak, then congratulations. You're an expert adviser. You are a resource your customers cannot live without. You are the true value add.
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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