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The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 28, 2011 • Issue 11:03:02

Value: Not always in the cards

By Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.

Smart sales professionals know it's better to sell value than price. But in practice, selling value in credit card processing is not simple. Value may mean different things to different people.

For example, merchant level salespeople (MLSs) may think of value as all the ways services and products go above and beyond conventional modes of credit card processing. Merchants may think of value in more simple terms like getting a good deal at a fair price.

The payments industry value chain is filled with novel innovations that enable sales professionals to differentiate themselves from competitors. Many organizations invest millions in training and development to ensure their sales teams can effectively explain a value proposition.

But top producing sales professionals don't rely on canned presentations. They evaluate current operations and requirements and then propose a solution. This article presents five guidelines for selling value in the price-conscious merchant community.

1. Know your audience

Recent technical advances and growing public acceptance of gift cards make it easier than ever to create the right kind of gift card program for almost any merchant. But despite their popularity and ease of implementation, gift cards are not for everyone. Before you show your samples, make sure the solution is the right fit for the business.

Christian Murray, National Director of Business Development for Global eTelecom Inc., said, "Agents and MLSs must evaluate the merchant's business model, demographics and current marketing initiatives in order to properly qualify and build value with merchants.

"Basing a presentation on these facts will greatly improve the merchant's perception of the solutions and build confidence in the solutions being proposed.

"Selling out-of-the-box solutions is an ineffective strategy in today's merchant environment. MLSs who focus on helping merchants launch programs geared to drive sales, rather than using [them] as tools to get bankcard deals, are more effective and successful in their efforts."

Whenever you get a negative reaction to a value-added solution, try to identify and isolate the problem. Ask exactly what it is about the program or service that's causing resistance. If you can't overcome the objection, move on. The solution may not be right for that particular customer.

2. Show, don't tell

Demonstrating a solution can make it more tangible to a prospect. There is no better way to explain a product's ease of operation and all the accompanying bells and whistles than to just turn it on and show it.

Studies have shown that customers who touch and feel merchandise are a step closer to buying it. In an experiment involving a simple coffee mug, results showed that people who touched the mug became more attached to the product within the first 30 seconds of contact and were willing to pay a higher price for it. For more information, visit www.thaindian.com/newsportal/health/consumers-more-likely-to-buy-products-they-touch_100139641.html.

Eliminate barriers to the sale and dispel potential doubts by directly engaging prospective customers in the process. Don't expect them to take your word for it. Let them swipe that card or "wand" that barcode for immediate proof of concept.

3. Provide excellent training

Training is a critical component of any new product introduction. This training could be provided by the MLS, the vendor, a relationship manager with expertise in training and development, or a third party specialist.

Depending on the complexity of the implementation, it could be a train-the-trainer process, or it could be staged in rotating shifts to accommodate the schedules of all employees who will interact with the program.

Beyond the obvious objective of helping the client become familiar with new equipment and processes, training presents an opportunity to overcome a natural resistance to change if the trainer is playful and interactive. Bring goody-bags and create a party atmosphere.

You'd be surprised by how much people appreciate company-branded pens or stress toys. Stage a mock graduation when the training is completed. These gestures will go a long way toward achieving a successful transition and ongoing good will.

4. Ask for and use testimonials

You may be lucky enough to have a client who wants to be the first to brave the uncharted territory of a product beta test. This kind of client deserves special recognition and deep discounts on the test products.

The client's willingness to work through unexpected events and provide continual feedback will make your marketing team happy and could eventually lead to an early-adoption case study and testimonial.

Most clients want the assurance of a proven and established product or service. They want to hear from other happy customers and see some evidence of a healthy installed base. That's why it's so important to promote organic growth in new products and services through systematic testing, aggressive introductory offers and word-of-mouth campaigns in social media.

No one yet has the ability to predict if and when a particular solution will go viral, so it's a good idea to have a backup plan that includes positive reviews and supportive customers.

5. Provide ongoing support and follow-up

As many of us have learned in our encounters with technology, the "use it or lose it" rule applies. After merchants are trained on new value-added solutions, it's important to follow up and make sure that they remain happily involved and actually use the product or service.

Sometimes they will be too embarrassed to ask for retraining and, as a result, the gift cards, identity verification or any number of other useful services will not be used. Don't let that happen. Routine follow-up calls by MLSs, relationship managers or customer support specialists will promote good will and keep customers engaged and productive.

Applied technology

Less is more when it comes to merchant-facing sales presentations. Questions work better than statements. Take the time to listen; observe comments and body language when merchants discuss their POS systems. Which of your company's specific tools, logic, technology and services can be applied to improve or enhance the credit card processing experience?

Successful MLSs know value is not always in the cards; it's in the way we collaborate with our merchants to solve problems and build better processing systems. end of article

Dale S. Laszig is Senior 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 dale_laszig@castech.com.tw.

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.

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

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