By Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.
Some people take a formulaic approach to closing sales, showing us ways to be brave and ask for the order. These techniques, like the snow plow, will get us down the mountain, but will later have to be discarded as we gain the confidence to just show up and have honest discussions with business owners.
Obviously, the number of discussions we have is proportionate to the number of sales we make, or what sales managers refer to as the closing ratio. What about the opening ratio, which can tell us how many merchants we need to call before we get a confirmed appointment?
We're not just competing with other merchant level salespeople (MLSs) anymore; ads, newsletters and offers of all kinds clamor for merchants' attention in today's competitive market.
Here is a program to help MLSs rise above the clutter, get confirmed appointments with decision-makers and open more sales.
Anyone who works in the electronic transactions industry is in the technology business. If you don't have a good grasp of networking basics and understand how transactions flow from the POS through authorization and settlement, an abundance of resources in our industry can help you bridge that gap.
Ask your ISO or processor for suggestions on training programs. Our industry's regional tradeshows have exhibits and seminars on technology trends. Many hardware vendors offer webinars that build brand awareness while educating us on relevant industry topics.
Third-party Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) security providers routinely stage compliance day events to present the complex, changing guidelines of the PCI DSS so that we in turn can educate our merchants.
ETA University (www.electran.org) offers an extensive curriculum of online courses, including technology subjects. Bankcard Bootcamp (www.bankcardbootcamp.com) and the Field Guide Seminars (www.fieldguideforisos.com) are tried and tested training programs for payments industry professionals.
Reading blogs is another way to stay in touch with payments industry technology, which is constantly evolving and changing. CardWare International (www.cardwareinternational.com) and Retail Cloud (www.retailcloud.com) post articles monthly on a variety of business and technical matters.
If you think you don't have time for this, imagine how merchants feel. Credit card processing is not their core business, but it directly affects them. Many are seeking ways to create security, mobility and integration strategies, and are hearing conflicting reports from different sources.
Knowledgeable MLSs can demonstrate how to leverage payment technology and become valuable, trusted guides for these merchants.
It is common knowledge that effective sales professionals sell on value, not price. What program differentiators has your organization implemented that will add value to merchant relationships? How can we apply what we learn about technology into SMART solutions (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited)?
Many prepaid and stored-value programs create new sources of recurring revenue for merchants, as their customers reload cards and opt in to a variety of automatically renewing programs.
Why sell generic, plain vanilla products and services when, with a bit of imagination, you can offer something of lasting value for a minimum investment that's simple to install and easy to operate?
A mobile device would help someone who accepts payments from multiple locations and job sites. Low-volume merchants who only occasionally accept credit card payments may be better served by virtual terminals.
Time-limited agreements are a payments industry standard. Many merchants signing an application will ask about the agreement's terms, including when they will be able to opt out of the agreement without incurring a cancellation fee.
While most agreements are self-renewing, merchants who are routinely contacted by their MLSs and enjoy good service will be less likely to leave at the end of a contract term.
When you are passionate about sharing your industry knowledge, merchants will be more receptive to your message. Your enthusiasm and sincere interest in learning more about merchants and their specific issues will create an opening for more enlightened, interactive discussions.
As Paul Green wrote in Good Selling 2: Thirteen Weeks to Personal Success, "Over the years, I have found that my selling process has gradually improved, and I have become less and less conscious of any great final effort to close a sale.
If my approach is right, if I have been able to create sufficient interest and desire, then, when the time comes for action, the prospect is ready, eager and willing to buy."
There's no limit to how creative we can become as we embrace changing technology and endeavor to stay up-to-date on industry trends. We can use this knowledge to make a positive difference in the merchant community.
There may be times when you cannot offer a better alternative to an existing program; you may compliment someone on an excellent system and leave with a smile and a handshake. When you don't earn the business, you can still earn respect. When you don't close the sale, you can still open the door to future possibility.
Dale S. Laszig is Vice President of Sales in the United States for Castles Technology Co. Ltd., a manufacturer and global provider of smart card, contactless and POS solutions. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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