By Steven Feldshuh
Maybe I am old school, but whenever possible I like to speak to a potential client in person. There is something special about meeting a client at his or her place of business, versus trying to develop a lasting relationship over the phone.
Too much is gained by a person-to-person encounter to be ignored. I know it has become the preference for many sales offices and individual agents to sell by phone. Yes, one can certainly cover more ground, and if the travel time to an account is ridiculously long, there is a good rationale for making a phone a call.
The question I kept asking myself, however, was which accounts develop more loyalty, and which accounts can I lock in with additional offerings? I am uncertain whether tried-and-true statistics are available, so my insights are from personal observations. From my years of experience in working with sales agents in the field, I am certain on-site sales develop a longer, more fruitful relationship. I have proved to myself that call center business development doesn't stay on the books for very long.
When I visit a merchant in person, I get the true picture of a location and understand what the merchant needs, which may not always coincide with what I would like to sell. In person, I can offer suggestions that otherwise may not have occurred to me had I wrapped up a deal over the phone.
Clearly one can determine potential new processing and other income producing needs when speaking with someone in person.
Would the merchant be better off processing through the Internet or could the merchant use a mobile solution? Or both? Could the merchant use a customized plastic gift card program to drive business, or might an online gift card program work better and help with marketing? Is the merchant using a POS system with a software program we can work with, or would I be wasting my time not knowing that we could not work with this system? Is the merchant aware of products to help the business's reputation or a program to find out what the merchant's competitors are doing?
When physically at the location, it is always much easier to talk about getting referrals, an element too many of us forget to ask for. In the intimacy of a business owner's office, you can address the potential need for a quality cash funding product for the business. You can ask and comment on family photos and develop a sense of caring with the merchant, something that is lost with Internet and phone marketing. At the location you can also meet the manager and staff, and possibly do some training if a new EMV terminal or wireless device has been installed.
I know, like all of us, business owners like to save on their processing and sometimes need to be re-schooled in how to accept payments. Today explaining the ins and outs of EMV processing is a must. So I ask you, can everything I mentioned be done by phone? I think not.
So my suggestion is if you haven't been out in the field for some time, start now. Remember, in order to beat Square at the payments game, or Costco and Sam's Club mass marketing to businesses or any telemarketing firm at its game, a personal touch may do the trick.
Steven Feldshuh, President of Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions East, has 18 years' experience in sales and ISO development. Directly prior to joining MCPSE in 2012, he was President of Payment Partners. In his current position, Steven devotes the bulk of his time to assisting agents in building their portfolios. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 212-392-9202.
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