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The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 26, 2012 • Issue 12:03:02


Big results from small talk

It is often said that selling merchant services is all about developing relationships. It's not enough to offer great products and expect merchants to sign on the dotted line. ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) need to be adept at not only explaining, but also at engaging and convincing.

Professors understand this. Skilled educators open lectures with jokes or funny anecdotes. Rather than diving straight into, say, the causes and outcomes of the Peloponnesian War, they will begin a talk with lighter fare that relaxes students and makes them more receptive to the information that comes next.

ISOs and MLSs thrive when they take a similar tack with merchants. The goal is to open dialogues and establish connections, but the road to strong connections is as unique as each seller. Being your best self - cheerful, open, receptive - is the best way to discover what works well for you. In fact, conveying genuine cheerfulness and enthusiasm is infectious and goes a long way toward getting merchants to pay attention.

Give and take

It is no accident that top sellers are usually great conversationalists. People who have the confidence to be themselves and enjoy engaging others in conversation generate good impressions and good will among merchants.

Even if a deal isn't closed on that first call, an engaging talker knows the next "touch" will build on the first. A merchant may not recall the specific solutions you sell, but the individual will remember if he or she enjoyed the conversation. And that might be enough to build on.

In addition to excelling at making conversation, ISOs and MLSs also must be able to listen. An MLS can be colorful and entertaining, but if the conversation is one way, the time and effort is wasted for both merchant and sales rep. Conversations are about offering up opinions and accepting the opinions of others in return. Hearing and responding to those opinions shows respect.

Listening well also aids in remembering what merchants say. If a conversation results in a merchant divulging personal information - hobbies, vacation plans, political interests - that information can be "repurposed" to great effect. Asking a prospect how that balloon ride went, or wondering about the latest political blunder (based on shared political views, of course), endears merchants to sellers and vice versa.

The human touch

Keep in mind that, like everybody else, merchants like to do business with people they know and trust. ISOs and MLSs able to establish friendly relations with merchants go a long way toward landing and keeping accounts. If problems arise, such as terminals going down or an unforeseen interchange rate increase hits, merchants are more likely to give reps with whom they have strong rapport the benefit of the doubt.

Conversations create connections. Even the slightest interactions can leave lasting impressions that can be developed over time into relationships. Genuine connections are what we all need and crave. Making the effort to engage merchants in conversation makes them feel they are more than just numbers added to monthly quotas. Small talk may seem insignificant, but it can lead to impressive results. end of article

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