By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
Our industry's acronym-rich lingo of interchange and compliance can sometimes make new merchants feel like tourists in a foreign country. While we take considerable pride in the innovations that have made credit card processing simple, fast and affordable, it's helpful to remember not everyone in our community speaks fluent POS.
The next time you visit a store or restaurant that doesn't accept electronic payments, before you introduce yourself and hand out a business card, think about your approach. Chances are you will not be the first credit card professional to suggest the business owner consider your services.
You will have about 30 seconds to make a first impression, and the most important things you want your potential customers to know are that you're honest, professional and capable of solving a problem for them. That's a tall order.
Here are seven hints to help you break the ice with a non-POS speaking merchant:
1. Begin on common ground: After the initial salutation, always make the merchant's business the focal point of your conversation. Ask what the merchant likes and dislikes. The answers will provide the framework for everything you discuss.
2. Embrace simplicity: Steer clear of buzz words and industry jargon. Don't try to explain the difference between online and offline debit unless you are directly asked. If you go into too much detail in your answers, you will lose your prospect's attention.
3. Keep it brief: You won't have enough time to educate a merchant on every iota of credit card processing in your first meeting. Keep the discussion relevant to your prospect's unique requirements and concerns.
4. Make it fun: If a prospect is using outdated equipment, pretend you're Indiana Jones uncovering the mummified remains of one of the earliest terminals in history. Ask how the business obtained the equipment. In most cases, the merchant won't even know. Often, terminals are passed on from a previous business owner, like relics from an ancient empire.
5. Be real: Bring a new credit card device and let the merchant run a test transaction. Amaze your prospect with the speed and simplicity of the new system. No amount of talk or pictures in a book can compete with a live demonstration.
6. Stay on course: Let your questions and answers follow a logical path that leads from problem to solution. When you have demonstrated enough reasons to use your services, you will have successfully positioned yourself as a strategic resource for your prospect's business.
7. Keep on closing: To make sure you are in sync, pause occasionally to ask if your prospect agrees with what you're saying. If the answers you receive confirm you have a grasp of the merchant's business operations and challenges, then you have a perfect segue to discuss the fit between the merchant's requirements and your services.
Don't underestimate business owners who have never accepted credit cards. Many are successful in their chosen professions because they have had the discipline to focus on their core businesses while ignoring or procrastinating on upgrades to ancillary technology.
They avoid the new computer, heating system, cappuccino maker or credit card machine until something breaks or they see more value than harm in upgrading.
Novice merchants express the following seven issues most frequently during payment processing presentations:
1. I'm working with my bank.
Translation: Why should I contract with a third party to handle my payment processing?
Solution: Keep in mind that your company's reputation and credibility are crucially important to prospective merchant customers. Reassure them that you will enhance, not replace, their primary banking relationship.
2. What happens if I want to cancel?
Translation: Please explain the terms of your contract, including length of time and cancellation fees.
Solution: Project confidence in your company's processing agreement, and provide succinct explanations for each area of the document.
3. What's your rate?
Translation: Please explain your pricing.
Solution: Merchants who don't understand interchange may believe there is only one rate for Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide. Instead of trying to expound on interchange categories, it might be easier to say that various penalties may apply to transactions that don't meet necessary qualifications. Sometimes the most straightforward way to explain pricing is to demonstrate the cost of an individual transaction.
4. I already have a machine.
Translation: I don't want to invest in new hardware unless you can demonstrate why it is necessary.
Solution: If an old machine is in place, the last thing you want to do is encourage the merchant to get it refurbished or reprogrammed. Older devices have limited memory, greater risk of breakage and don't meet today's rigorous compliance standards. Consider giving the retailer a trade-in credit or box of free paper in exchange for an older terminal.
5. What happens if one of my customers uses a stolen credit card?
Translation: I need to understand how your system will protect me from fraud.
Solution: Briefly explain the security features that are built into your system and educational resources available to them from the card brands.
6. How can I see my transactions?
Translation: Please show me how your reporting can help me reconcile my daily credit card activity.
Solution: There have never been more options available to merchants who want to monitor their credit card processing.
Most small-business owners may not always take the time to open their mail, so they may not know they can access their transaction reports whenever they need to review them. It's your job to inform them.
7. What other forms of payment do you support?
Translation: I don't ever want to lose a sale because my business doesn't accept a particular form of payment.
Solution: When your prospects are willing to consider other forms of payment, it's an opportunity to present an array of value added services, including electronic gift, check and contactless payments.
Selling credit card processing to the uninitiated can sometimes feel like trying to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language. But if you're up to the challenge, it can be very rewarding.
Merchants new to bankcard processing represent your best opportunity to really sell something and make a meaningful contribution to their businesses. When your credit card decals are proudly displayed in their windows, it will be their way of saying, "We speak POS here."
Dale S. Laszig has a varied background in sales for First Data Corp., Hypercom Corp. and VeriFone. Her dedication to technology, writing and graphic design led to the formation of DSL Direct LLC, a marketing services company geared toward payment professionals. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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