The Green Sheet Online Edition
February 25, 2008 • Issue 08:02:02
Back to basics
I have written about finding niches. But being a merchant level salesperson (MLS) requires discipline, and after a while, many lose their initiative and form bad habits.
Knocking on doors, keeping a business-card file, following up, traveling to fresh locales and getting referrals are tasks every ISO and MLS should do routinely.
Mike Anderson, imhogwyld on GS Online's MLS Forum, stated, "Treat it like the opportunity it is; work it like a job (something I think far too few do)."
So buckle up, and let's go back to the basics.
Knock on doors
I used to get nervous on sales calls. My palms would sweat, and I would stumble over my words. I found the key is to get a merchant's attention in the first few seconds. I always had some cheesy line to break the ice. Establishing rapport right away usually makes it easy to lead into credit card processing questions.
Knocking on doors is the best way to fill your pipeline. When I used to sell door-to-door, if I skipped a week of knocking, I could always tell because lackluster results would reflect my neglect. I'm often asked whether it's possible to still write 20 deals a month. The answer is yes.
Are you going to be able to close a deal in one visit? Not always. But you will build your pipeline. It may just trickle initially, but as time goes on, the flow of deals will surge.
The key to closing deals is following up. I always went through business cards I collected and followed up weekly until I got a firm yes or no.
For each phone call or visit, I would make notes on the back of the prospect's card. I would note any information I got (business owner is off because it's her birthday, on vacation, kids baseball tournament, funeral).
I would then use that information when I finally reached the owner. After a few calls, you usually start building rapport with decision-makers and get closer to closing deals.
Following up is the most important part of a sales cycle. Credit card processing is often the least of merchants' concerns. Many other day-to-day factors occupy their minds. It is our job to remind them just how crucial selecting the right credit card processing partner is to their prosperity.
You don't have to be a pest. Just calling and letting them know you are checking on them helps close deals. And once a deal is ready to close, don't talk your way out of it. Start the application process right away.
MLS Forum member Alexs stated, "One of my first accounts, the guy had to tell me to start filling out the app. You have to always assume the sale is going forward."
This is something so many MLSs don't do. It is amazing how many merchant accounts I have signed because I asked for referrals. There are shopping centers where I have every merchant except the anchor grocery store. This is as a result of asking for referrals.
Sometimes you have to say something like, Do you know who owns the video store next door? This spurs their thinking and usually provides a few good leads.
And remember, when following up on the leads, mention the person who referred you to them, as well as the fact that your mutual friend just signed up with you. By creating a "keeping up with the Joneses" effect, you are more likely to close deals.
Are you tired of working the same area again and again? Then travel. Within an hour's drive from Memphis, there are plenty of small towns to visit, and they don't get swarmed by salespeople. I have signed accounts all over, because I travel. In addition, on every vacation, I attempt to get at least one account. I have sold on cruises and airplanes; at dinner parties, bars, and my kids' cheerleading practices and competitions; in doctors' offices and restrooms - the list goes on and on.
You have to be in sales mode all the time. Stop at every banner that reads "coming soon" or "under new management." Hunt for sales everywhere. Most MLSs can write business anywhere. And geographic diversification strengthens portfolios.
When I asked MLS Forum members what they considered to be their basics, I got thoughtful responses. Coach Bob Schoenbauer of Capitol Payment System stated, "Good shoes."
"Basics, as they say in baseball, are pitching and catching," Jeff Fortney wrote. "You need to remember the steps that generate business, prioritize those steps and execute them every day. ... Stop chasing windmills. Concentrate on the bread and butter of your business."
George "C" Ciubotaru advised, "Never speak badly about your competitors. ... Establish an interpersonal relationship with your potential client before discussing business. ... Educate your potential clients even if you know that you are not going to get the sale at that moment. ... Never think about how much you are going to make before walking into the appointment. ... Answer your phone. ... Call customers back, and follow-up. ... Look the part."
No matter what your approach, don't lose your basics. The basics will help you thrive. The beauty is you can pick, choose and customize your own basics. Use some of the ideas above, and create your own - if you don't already have them in hand.
Safari Njema. Safe journey.
Dee Karawadra is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of Impact PaySystem, based in Memphis, Tenn. He and his team have a wealth of knowledge on the merchant services industry, with a niche in the petroleum market. Dee's experience on the street as an agent has guided him in laying a foundation for an agent program that is both straightforward and lucrative for his agents. Contact him at 877-251-0778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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