By Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.
We hear significant buzz these days about aggregators: game-changers like PayPal Inc. and Square Inc. that create one giant merchant account and then break it into millions of tiny pieces so that the smallest of merchants can finally get into the credit card processing game.
Actually, many successful merchant level salespeople (MLSs) have adopted similar approaches to territory management. In fact, since we've been in the credit card industry longer than some of these upstarts, we could say that PayPal and Square have borrowed a page from the MLS playbook.
Let's take a high-level look at the dynamics. Why do aggregators exist? As the saying goes, there's strength in numbers. Aggregators are usually created to fulfill the needs of a buying group whose members would not be eligible for volume discounts if they applied for products or services on their own. What are some common examples of aggregators? Costco Wholesale Corp., BJ's Wholesale Club Inc., and PayPal are just a few.
As many of us have learned in our years of selling, dealing with micro merchants is tricky and requires different kinds of skills than those used when targeting a major account. Veteran sales pros can vouch for the importance of racking up little base hits consisting of one or two call closes in the more formalized, strategic approach to targeting major accounts.
This begins with research, continues through gaining access to a decision maker, and culminates with a formal proposal that describes a business or solution that meets the target's needs.
What's the likelihood of applying that process or even presenting a proposal to an e-commerce startup based in someone's garage? Not happening, according to broad consensus in our previous discussion thread in GS Online's MLS Forum.
Forum member CLEARENT wrote that among the many reasons cited for dispensing with formalities when prospecting small merchant accounts, is that sometimes requests for proposals can be a form of stall: "In my opinion, that is often just an effort of a merchant to get you to leave," he wrote. "[T]hey really want to say no but are too good-hearted to come out and say it.
"Best to give them permission to say no, than [try to] see if they do want something."
So what are some ways that MLSs aggregate their prospecting efforts to improve productivity and increase closing ratios? Here are essential steps I've observed:
Let's begin to incorporate some of our success stories into our selling. What problems have we solved in our respective geographies or areas of expertise? Everyone loves a good story. How can those same wins be applied across the board to other similar kinds of businesses?
If we begin with a large group, we can still tailor our discussions and solutions to the unique requirements of each prospective merchant. As PayPal and Square have shown us, all these micro merchants out there add up to one big, solid opportunity.
Dale Laszig is a writer and payments industry executive specializing in business development and sales performance improvement. She manages channel sales at Castles Technology and sales effectiveness programs through IMPAX Corp. and C3ET Credit Card Consortia for Education & Training Inc. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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