The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 28, 2008 • Issue 08:04:02
Go from middlin' to marvelous
It is often said that top merchant level salespeople (MLSs) work significantly longer, harder and smarter than those who are merely successful. And, the top 10 percent of MLSs regularly earn from five to 15 times - or even more - than the average salesperson. However, no one can sustain working five to 15 times longer, harder and smarter than the norm.
Ironically, the top producing MLSs are not necessarily more intelligent, and they do not work 10 times more hours than those producing in the middle (40 to 60 percent) range. Rather, the top 10 percent make the extra effort it takes to win.
It's the daily commitment to being consummate professionals that sets them apart. Top producers fully understand that in order to get far better results, they must make dramatic changes in the way they sell. They must do what others won't even try: step outside their comfort zones to achieve superior results.
If you are reading this article, you are motivated and likely successful. While it would be easy to contrast the differences between the bottom-of-the-barrel MLSs (who are barely surviving) with top echelon MLSs, the following information will illuminate the differences between successful MLSs and top producers.
Average versus top tier
A top producer in our field is one who exceeds six figures in income annually and is well on the way toward, if not surpassing, a million dollar portfolio. Here are examples of average versus top tier practices:
- The average successful salesperson tries to get appointments with all prospects who could ever need their products or services.
- Top producers do not make appointments with prospects who are merely breathing; they actually take the time to qualify prospects first to ensure the potential customers have the interest and authority to make critical decisions.
Genuine prospects need, want and can make the decision to buy and implement your services - today.
- The average successful salesperson is effective at prospecting/cold calling and will generate a few good leads per day. Top producers will generate many relationships that produce multiple leads per week; they do not rely exclusively on traditional prospecting.
- The average successful salesperson will lead with savings/price. Top producers typically lead with a strong value added proposition that will demonstrate a clear return on investment or meet a prospect's specific need. Then, any savings is just gravy.
- The average successful salesperson knows how to build rapport, creating pleasant and superficial interactions. Top producers develop deep relationships based upon mutual trust and respect.
- The average successful salesperson is a great talker and a likable person. Top producers are great listeners and know how to lead a prospect effectively by asking probing questions that will stimulate dialogue specifically geared toward identifying the needs of the prospect.
- The average successful salesperson knows techniques designed to overcome objections. Top producers eliminate almost all objections in a very natural and conversational manner.
- The average successful salesperson does an impressive statement review, cost analysis and presentation. Top producers conduct a thorough, linear sales process, with the prospect doing most of the talking and the producer simply meeting the needs.
- Average successful salespeople know how to recognize buying signals. When these occur, they try to close sales. Top producers ask for conditional commitments, and when buying signals occur, they begin filling out the paperwork very naturally.
- Average successful salespeople know effective closing techniques and apply them when they think the prospect is ready. Top producers overtly ask closing questions in a dialogue throughout the presentation until the prospect closes the sale himself, or the top producer simply assumes the sale.
For example, in the course of the discussion one might ask a merchant, "Should I send your monthly statement to your street address, or would you prefer I e-mail it over?"
- The average successful salesperson has a desire to succeed and sets goals. Top producers know exactly how many prospects, both cold and referred, it takes to get an appointment, how many appointments it takes to close a sale, and how many sales coupled with how much volume it will take to guarantee continued success.
- The average successful salesperson will work hard, run the numbers and follow up. The top producers will go the extra mile, making the extra effort to effectively separate themselves from the pack.
Do you really want to become one of the best in the business? It's likely you'll have to dramatically change the way you think about the sales process. This makes me remember "The Ant Philosophy," a story told by Jim Rohn, one of America's foremost business philosophers. It goes something like this:
I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four-part philosophy, and here is the first part: ants never quit. That's a good philosophy. If they're headed somewhere and you try to stop them, they'll look for another way.
They'll climb over, they'll climb under, and they'll climb around. They keep looking for another way.
What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get from where you are to where you're supposed to go. They would die if necessary before they would ever quit.
Second, ants think winter all summer. That's an important perspective. You can't be so na‹ve as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering their winter food in the middle of summer.
An ancient story advises to not build your house on the sand in the summer. Why do we need that advice? Because it is important to think ahead. In the summer, you've got to think storm. You've got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun. Remember, the soil says, "Don't bring me your need. Bring me your seed."
The third part of the ant philosophy is that ants think summer all winter. That is so important. During the winter, ants remind themselves, "This won't last long; we'll soon be out of here." And the first warm day, the ants are out.
If it turns cold again, they'll dive back down, but then they come out the next warm day. They can't wait to get out.
And here's the last part of the ant philosophy. How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All that he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the all-that-you-possibly-can philosophy.
What a great philosophy: Never give up, look ahead, prepare for the future, stay positive and do all you can.
From the MLS Forum
To augment my perspective, I asked members of GS Online's MLS Forum to please post "a little about your success in the industry and what it really takes." I received many great comments; here are some highlights:
TheCreditCardMan (also known as Jim), said, "Success includes sales ability, organizational skills and [the ability] to manage your time efficiently.
"Did I work 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week? Did I miss a whole lot of dinners with my family? Did I drive 100 miles to get a signature on a $5,000 a month deal? Did I put my business card on every community board I saw? Did I answer my cell phone 'til 11p.m. at night, at a restaurant or at an [industry] affair? Yes.
"Did it pay off? Yes, both financially and emotionally."
"Jason, my success in sales relates to go the extra mile," posted Desdinova (also known as Chuck Saden). "I was lucky to have a great sales manager/mentor, and he knew I was ready to agree to working the plan in the book, 'The Greatest Miracle in the World.'
"It helps to have read 'The Greatest Salesman in the World' first, but it was the reading of the 'The God Memorandum' chapter each day for 100 straight days that helped me succeed."
Bubbaduck (also known as Michael Wimberly) said, "My success as a MLS in this industry is based on my sincerity and willingness to listen to my merchants, making myself available 24/7 to address any concern.
"If one is willing to maintain a great relationship with their merchants, approach the merchants professionally and be very knowledgeable about the processing business, one will land great accounts.
"Recently, I walked into a business establishment, struck up a conversation with the owner, and by the time I left I signed up five different accounts: an e-commerce account, three of his retail accounts and a wireless account. Be real, honest and establish a rapport, and you will be successful with every merchant."
Thanks for the great feedback. While I cannot use every response, every time, please continue participating; look for the next topic I post on the MLS Forum using the screen name Street Smarts.
Jason A. Felts is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida-based Advanced Merchant Services Inc., a registered ISO/MSP with HSBC Bank. From its onset, AMS has placed top priority on supporting and servicing its sales partners.
The company launched ISOPro Motion, its private-label training program, to provide state-of-the-art sales tools and actively promote the success and long-term development of its partners. For more information, visit www.amspartner.com, call 888-355-VISA (8472), ext. 211, or e-mail Felts at .firstname.lastname@example.org
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