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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 12, 2016 • Issue 16:09:01

Become an agent of change in payments

By Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Today, as with any day, the payments world is changing and evolving. We have seen a number of significant changes over the past few years, such as EMV. There have also been a number of smaller changes, such as mergers and consolidations, that have had a more limited impact on the industry. Nonetheless, they still resulted in change.

As I have said before, our industry is one of change. For some, that is what makes it exciting. They see change as an opportunity. For others, change is a scary thing. They fear change, as it could impact their revenue, their sales approach or something unknown.

Reacting to change

There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to change. Change generates an emotional response, and that's OK. It's not OK, though, when the reaction or response creates a greater impact on your success than the change itself.

I was discussing this with an ISO partner recently and she said, "I wish I could get ahead of changes. It would be much easier than reacting to them." Although I agreed, I also said that we just can't anticipate some changes. After our conversation, I realized that there is one way to get ahead of the changes. We need to be change agents.

Becoming a change agent

This term (and its sibling, agents of change) has been used in the professional world for several years. Although it can mean different things depending on the profession, the concept is the same: change agents are people who act as catalysts of change.

In the payments world, as with any sales profession, we are constantly asking people to change. We ask them to change their processing relationship, their product, even how they accept payments. How we act as that catalyst and how we address any expected reactions will define the success or failure of the sale.

Ushering in change

Here are four steps you can take to improve your success when helping to usher in change.

  1. Build trust first: This is not easy. It means that instead of selling, you need to ask merchants questions about their businesses, show a genuine interest in them and create rapport. Sure, you will still tell them who you are and why you are there, but your overall demeanor will present less of a sales threat, because you will be there to investigate and determine whether there is any reason to discuss your offering.

    You can't build trust if merchants immediately question your intentions. If you want to build trust, you have to be honest. So emphasize the fit, not the fact that you are selling. The merchants must trust you or they won't embrace the change you want to bring about.

  2. Ask the right questions: In sales, we are trained to ask questions that help identify areas that will lead to a sales opportunity. Similarly, a catalyst asks questions that lead merchants to consider a new opportunity. In other words, a catalyst's goal is to get merchants to a point where they will make a decision to change.

    For example, today you may ask, "What don't you like about your current provider?" There is nothing wrong with this question, as it helps identify pain. However, a catalyst will ask, "How do you feel about your current provider?" The follow-up to that will be to ask what they don't like about their current provider. That should be followed up with, "Is your current provider helping or hindering your success today?"

    In essence, instead of solely gaining information, the catalyst moves merchants to a position where they feel the need to change. They sell themselves first, before the actual sale is made.

  3. Show interest and have patience: Time is valuable, but catalysts know that they need to invest time in opportunities. This means it's important to encourage merchants to talk. If necessary, they ask additional questions to move conversations forward.

    For example, if a merchant is answering questions, but the answers seem curt, the catalyst will say, "Could you tell me more?" Alternatively, the catalyst may say, "It seems like there is more you wish to share."

    Be willing to wait. Don't rush to the next question or answer. Let them fill the space. Be willing to actively listen while avoiding the urge to speak.

  4. Lead to the close: We all know the saying, Always be closing. But catalysts aren't always closing. Catalysts lead merchants through questions to get to the point where either the deal is ready to close or the fit is obviously wrong.

    Instead of looking for that closing opportunity, catalysts know that the opportunity will arise and be obvious. The same patience is required when listening so that you don't miss opportunities.

    This doesn't mean allowing conversations to ramble. Should a conversation drift more than briefly away from the merchant's payment processing, the catalyst stays on point and leads the merchant back to the topic at hand.

Moving forward

Become a catalyst, and you will be able to quickly analyze change, including its benefits and challenges, without allowing emotion to determine your reactions. Catalysts recognize that change will occur and know that it can affect them. However, once they find they can accept and even embrace the change, they move forward.

Remember, whether we recognize it or not, we are all agents of change. Being a catalyst will help your merchants overcome their fear of change, and it will help you sign more deals. And isn't that our goal? end of article

Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at jeff@clearent.com or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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