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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 14, 2013 • Issue 13:10:01

Selling today: Consultative, not transactional

By Michael Gavin
Merchant Warehouse

Today's payments landscape is in a state of evolution fueled largely by technology. From mobile payments and integrated commerce to tablet-based and mobile POS offerings, new technologies are flooding the marketplace. And whether you're an ISO, a merchant level salesperson or a value-added reseller, these solutions should be viewed as an opportunity to drive incremental revenues, as well as enhance your value as a trusted resource for your customers.

Capitalizing on this new opportunity will require work. If you haven't sold these types of solutions previously, there will be a learning curve, but the return will far outweigh the investment if you conduct research and select products that fit your niche or vertical targets.

Two types of sales

If you have focused exclusively on selling payment processing and terminals, adding new technologies may also impact your sales process. When selling terminals and processing, much of the focus is on price - interchange rates, incremental fees, contracts and terminal costs. Service and support also are factors, but do not usually sway customers' purchasing decisions - that's price and price alone.

This type of sale is often referred to as transactional. It's quick, easy and often involves customers who know what they want or need, and are looking for the best price and fastest turnaround.

Selling more sophisticated solutions requires a consultative, or customer-centric, approach. Author Mack Hanan introduced the term “consultative selling” in the 1970s in his book of the same name. It's typically defined as a sales technique whereby the salesperson serves as a qualified consultant for the prospect, collaborating to determine the needs and then recommending products or services that specifically meet those needs.

The definition falls directly in line with serving as a trusted adviser. In this role, it's important to focus primarily on delivering solutions, not on price - and to identify prospects' specific personality traits.

Two types of buyers

In 2003, Roy H. Williams noted distinct personality traits of transactional buyers versus relational (consultative selling) buyers, as follows:

  1. Transactional buyers: focus only on today and not looking to the future, look for price and value and have an instinctive fear of overpaying, enjoy comparison shopping and the negotiation process, and will share their "great deal" with peers.
  2. Relational buyers: see today's transaction as one in a series with the promise of a continued relationship, fear only making the wrong choice, value trust and confidence in both the seller and solution, don't enjoy the comparison and negotiation processes, and seek out experts they can trust.

Unlike selling strictly on price, a consultative approach begins with a deeper conversation, asking discovery questions and listening to your prospects' responses, and working to identify and confirm needs. Without a clear understanding of the challenges your prospects are facing, you cannot deliver solutions that truly meet their needs. It's important to:

  • Build trust with prospects and customers
  • Focus on solutions, not price and commoditization
  • Educate yourself - acquire a deep knowledge of the solutions you offer and the new opportunities presented by POS, mobile commerce or other new solutions
  • Align solution features to the prospect's WIIFM (What's in it for me) Keep it simple - identify immediate benefits; then touch on the potential scalability or future opportunities
  • Stay engaged before, during and after the sale - consultative selling is like a marathon, not a sprint

Even for professionals well versed in both transactional and consultative selling, it's critical to remember the basic principles of each. We're facing a trove of new opportunities that requires us to deliver business solutions as opposed to transactional services. Those who succeed will enjoy long-standing success, earning more and keeping customers longer as well. end of article

As Merchant Warehouse Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales, as well as leadership of all sales activities within the company's agent channel. He has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. Merchant Warehouse's Genius Customer Engagement Platform is a single, intuitive platform that integrates every transaction technology, loyalty program and more. Contact Michael at mgavin@merchantwarehouse.com. For more information on the company, visit http://merchantwarehouse.com.

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