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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 23, 2008 • Issue 08:06:02

Street SmartsSM

Add value to enhance your value

By Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services

For merchant level salespeople (MLSs), the art of being a value added salesperson begins with developing an overall business strategy and individual sales techniques. As attitude drives behavior, selling philosophy drives selling technique.

Indeed, value added selling is a mindset and a process. It is strategic and tactical, and it represents the consummate sales professional's approach.

Value added selling is more than a cliché, fad, or this year's sales and marketing theme. Value added selling is a mindset, an attitude and a paradigm deeply rooted in your psyche. And it is demonstrated daily in your behavior when approaching your merchants.

Real-life value

My youngest daughter recently showed me you can turn many situations into value propositions. For some reason, my children are offended by the idea of turning off a light.

Often, my wife and I will find both of our offspring sleeping with the light on in their room before we turn in ourselves.

One evening, I went downstairs to lock up. My youngest had been down there many hours earlier to feed the dogs. Upon walking down, I noted that every single light had been left on for many hours, so I promptly yelled, "Emily, I've told you a thousand times to turn the lights off when you leave a room. Why did you leave every light on again?"

She quickly responded, "Because I wanted you to be able to see, Daddy."

She immediately thought of how she could add value and did indeed escape all trouble. How can you argue with that response?

Value added selling is an active process of finding ways to create and extract value from mutually rewarding business relationships. Value added salespeople sell three things: their unique services, their company and themselves. This three-dimensional solution defies commoditization or so-called savings-based comparisons.

Valuable approach

Some MLSs have asked me to define selling with value. Value - perceived or real, personal or business - is the only thing that separates one service or alternative from another.

Value is our clients' perception of the impact an overall solution will have on their business issues. It's always a combination of tangible and intangible components. It's always subjective and unique to each client.

In bankcard sales, leading with value simply means you are providing products or services that are relevant and meet your merchants' needs. Remember, most chief executive officers and business owners are looking for the following:

  • Profitability: The CEOs I know have financial minds. They care about the net income of their enterprises, either on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Does your solution have any impact on profitability? If so, your offerings will be immediately relevant to these executives.

    If you do not think your solutions affect merchant profitability, maybe you haven't looked deep enough. Prospects are not going to connect these dots for you; you'll have to do it yourself.

  • Revenue growth: Every CEO cares about new business capture, client expansion, new markets and general sales numbers. Do your solutions touch upon those issues?

  • Vision and strategy: CEOs should be visionary, and they should have strategies. Sometimes asking simple questions about vision and strategy will spur CEOs to think about these issues more deeply, enabling them to communicate these concepts more clearly to staff members and business stakeholders.

Seasoned advice

I invited Mark Rault (texascommerce on GS Online's MLS Fourm) to provide some ideas on leading with value. His expertise is within the gift and loyalty sector. Here are his thoughts:

    Your value is derived from your knowledge, and sharing this knowledge with merchants is where you become an asset to their businesses and will find success. To understand this strategy, take it to the street, and put it to the test.

    Bring to merchants value and service that will drive revenue, create cash flow, and educate them on the impact and reality of customer acquisition and retention.

    I will share with you what I have learned along the way and explain how to position yourself or a team to maximize merchant acquisitions while creating cash flow. Both are key components for success.

    The first important and basic principle of this strategy is you have to be convinced and empowered by two things:

    1. Your experience and knowledge are your value, and this value is what will drive the very thing that is on the forefront of every business owner's mind every day they put that key in the lock and open up for business:

      How do I move my products or services off my shelves today better than I did yesterday and create more revenue?

    2. Your knowledge is what will separate you from the average MLS and allow you to use your ability as a consultant to educate merchants and share with them the value added sales proposition.

To be convinced of this, it is imperative that you be informed and understand the numbers as they relate to growth, usage and overall acceptance of gift, prepaid and rewards cards - which can be found just about everywhere in this industry.

Now armed with the knowledge of just how these products can impact your merchants, you will need an effective sales strategy.

After years of trial and error, the experiences of hundreds of professional sales reps, thousands of presentations and installs, and easily over a million dollars spent on the entire process, I will share an overview of just how to acquire merchants in today's competitive arena - without ever mentioning the words credit card processing or giving away anything.

  • Appointment setting: This is crucial to your presentation's success, as you must have at least 20 minutes or more of a business owner's undivided attention for a sales presentation.

    You can set appointments over the phone or in person. (You must have effective scripts and cold calling techniques.)

  • Business questionnaire: This should contain the 12 key questions you must get answered in order for your presentation to have any impact and chance of making sense to the business owner. (Key questions should be crafted to help you define your presentation.)

  • Presentation book: This is your blueprint of what you are designing for a given prospect's specific business type. It should be easy to follow. Trying to present without it is a waste of your time. (Using this book keeps you in control.)

  • Benefit analysis: This closing tool demonstrates the exact revenue that will be generated for the merchant business based on a specific prospect's actual numbers. (This is the assumptive close and uses the merchant's numbers, not yours.)

  • Merchant information sheet: A crucial key to the closing process, this is your segue from the benefit analysis into the actual contract. It is a one-page document that has every line item you will need to fill out for the merchant application, gift card paperwork, artwork selection, voided check, lease documents (if needed) and all related material.

  • Installation and training: This is the exciting time when you deliver, install and train the owner and staff on just how to use each and every tool you sold them. (It is crucial to the success of any value added sales strategy and leads to referrals from satisfied clients.)

This systematic, calculated approach will work in all markets. Remember that your value is driven from your knowledge, and sharing this knowledge with merchants is where you will name your own price and find success.

My thanks go to Mark. I'm sure many of you will find his ideas very helpful. Let's face it: Prospects will often buy from people they like, know or trust.

Your enthusiasm for your product or service is also a big factor in getting your prospects to place orders with you.

Knowing this, I've often used a script to not only add value to my products or services, but also to boost my personal value to clients.

If your prospects say, "I can get it cheaper," or "Well, the XYZ company has something similar that does more," or anything like that, here's what to say:

"You know, (insert merchant's name), I'm aware of all the other options for merchant services, and quite frankly if I thought any of them were better for my clients, I'd be working there and selling for them.

"When I got into this industry I did my own research, and I looked for the company that not only offered the best value but also delivered the finest customer service and follow-up.

I chose (insert appropriate company name) because the company gives my clients the best overall value and the best experience. That means I continue to board merchants with them, and they refer new business to me.

"If there were a better product or company for you to be doing business with, I'd be there, and we'd be talking about that. But there isn't.

"Bottom line: If you want the best overall value, results and experience within this industry, do what I did - choose (insert company name). You'll always be glad you did.

"Now, do you want to start with the full gift, loyalty, rewards and complete credit card processing program or just a merchant account while you consider your options on the cards?"

This technique builds value in the most important part of any sales transaction: you and your belief in your product or service. Use it each time you get the price or competition objection, and watch your sales and confidence grow.

And make sure this quote is true for you, "If I can get you, my prospect, to feel the same way about my product or service that I do, you will become my merchant today." end of article

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 jasonf@gotoams.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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