By Jeffrey Shavitz
Charge Card Systems Inc.
Many books and articles have been written about sales success - by authors much smarter than I. However, with such an avalanche of information available, I thought seven simple rules set forth specifically for ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) in the payments industry might prove helpful.
Although basic, these common-sense, yet powerful rules - if followed repeatedly - will become habits and contribute to your success.
For example, my company has spent the past six months developing training literature and education on how to sell Level 2 and Level 3 processing, and how these categories affect interchange rates for government and business-to-business merchants.
Are you an expert with POS systems designed for restaurateurs? Or have you taken a genuine interest in becoming an expert in a specific industry, attending key industry tradeshows and knowing the players within that sector?
Or are you a generalist who just walks up and down Main Street every day, hoping for business to come your way?
I strongly believe it's the strategic thinkers and salespeople who, in the end, will achieve the kind of success we all desire.
2. Be different: This advice is simple, yet it is difficult to achieve. Our business has become commoditized; interchange is interchange, but you must be different.
Think creatively. How can you possibly differentiate yourself when selling on price alone? It's a losing proposition if your entire sales posture is based on price.
I've been amazed at the results many MLSs have achieved by truly differentiating themselves from the competition in their given territories.
3. Build a team: Whether you are an MLS or an ISO with many agents, build alliances and make everyone else feel like there is a common goal. If you are an MLS, you may ask, "How do I build a team when I work independently?" Easy. Make the community your team. Join networking groups, involve your family and ask for help.
I have met too many MLSs who are too embarrassed and proud to ask for help. Speak up. We're salespeople, and it's our job and responsibility to seek decision-makers to help us build our businesses.
We provide a valuable service: companies need to understand their credit card processing programs. Be proud of what you do.
And by building a team, you can leverage yourself and make your business more scalable, which will enable it to grow exponentially.
4. Say thank you: And say it often. There are lots of ISOs and MLSs prospecting for the same merchant base. When was the last time you wrote an e-mail saying thank you for a new merchant account?
I'll ask a real hard question. When was the last time you wrote a letter by hand to a merchant saying that you appreciate the confidence he or she has placed in you?
If you're too lazy to write a letter, pick up the phone periodically and check in to say hello. It's amazing how far this simple gesture will go toward limiting your attrition and solidifying your relationships.
5. Smile: Have fun with your business. Enjoy your successes. Appreciate what a gift your chosen career is. Despite the payments industry's many issues and complications, we are all fortunate to have found this unique business model.
As one of my business coaches once told me, we don't work very hard; working hard is doing manual labor for 14 to 18 hours per day in the dead of summer.
Conversely, we work in air conditioned (or heated) offices, depending on locale and season of the year. We use the telephone a lot and meet many nice people throughout the day. Perceptions about how difficult work is are subjective, but I think you'll agree we all have it pretty good.
6. Share: I'm amazed how many MLSs are too "scared" to share information and key learnings with fellow agents from competing ISOs. It's a big world out there, and it's na‹ve to think every MLS you know will be calling on the same merchants you are targeting.
I feel fortunate to be involved with The Green Sheet Advisory Board, as one of my missions is to share information with fellow payment professionals.
In all candor, my two closest friends in the payments space are direct competitors of mine. We speak daily and have helped one another close deals and grow as industry professionals.
Meet people at tradeshows and through GS Online's MLS Forum. And begin developing great business relationships and friendships that will last for years to come.
7. Sell soft: Think of how you like to be treated when shopping in your neighborhood store. Do you feel at ease when the salesperson is "in your face" and forcing the sale? You have a good service to offer; be confident in your sales approach and let the sale come to you.
Of course, you, like all of us, have likely been burned on occasion by a prospective merchant customer who has shown your attractive, new fee structure to his or her current service provider, and you've lost the business because the competition matched your price.
But I am confident that if you sell in a respectful, diligent and soft manner, you will win more deals than you lose.
I hope these seven rules help you in your future sales.
I would welcome and appreciate your sending me a quick e-mail with additional tips that have worked for you. I will review your information and select the "best of the best" ideas covering the most popular and compelling topics, and I will write a follow-up article. Please note, like any good author, I promise to give due credit to every person whose tip(s) I include.
Jeffrey Shavitz is one of the founders of Charge Card Systems Inc. He is also an active member of The Green Sheet Advisory Board and the First Data ISO Advisory Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-878-4100. For additional information on CCS, please visit www.chargecardsystems.com/gsadvisoryboard or the company's corporate Web site at www.chargecardsystems.com.
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