By Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services
Do you remember hearing the story of Chicken Little when you were a child? He was walking down the street when an acorn fell from a tree and hit him on the head. Alarmed by the acorn, which he thought was part of the sky, Chicken Little grew agitated and began to spread panic among everyone who heard him shouting, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"
Before long, many believed Chicken Little was right. Sound familiar?
Every day, we are bombarded by prophets of doom who are more than willing to let us know the sky is falling on our country, economy, way of life, fuel and oil supplies, housing and finance markets, you name it. And if enough people believe it, the perception starts to become reality.
While it would be na‹ve to ignore our current economic circumstances, it's disappointing that so often only negative news is reported. While I certainly understand it's tougher out there than it has been, and some are expecting revenue shortfalls, I believe this is the time to revisit goal setting 101.
What you believe your reality to be is what will appear.
I've talked with hundreds of salespeople who have rolled up their tents and blamed the economy, personal circumstances, competition or management for not taking necessary steps to help them in tough times. But I believe we all have the ability to turn lemons into lemonade.
Don't wait for opportunity to knock on your door, as the saying goes. If you are not happy with your circumstances, production, volume, team and so forth - create an opportunity.
Shining stars exist at every level of success and leadership. I recently spoke to a merchant level salesperson (MLS) who grew his business by over 1,200 percent last year, while many of his colleges found themselves down or at a plateau.
There are many MLSs, like him, who are winning new business today. What's their secret? The rollout of a new service or product? Value added offers? Giving away the farm? No. Their secret is not a secret at all. They just haven't bought into the idea of doom and gloom.
That's right. They are successful because they planned for success, and then executed their plans. Success, my friends, is no accident. Let's put to rest the fallacy that prosperity - in sales or any profession - is due to luck, chance or even hard work alone. Nothing is further from the truth.
We all know people who work incredibly hard, putting in long hours. They may have two and sometimes even three jobs. But they are not consistently (if ever) successful. Hard work contributes to success, but hard work alone will not make you top-flight.
Success is a science. When an economic slowdown occurs, increase your efforts about 10 to 20 percent.
Remember, effort is multifaceted and includes work ethic, prospecting, building more relationships, securing more referrals and thinking of creative ways to serve your merchants well.
Assuming you embrace the challenge and you add extra effort even in a slowing economy, you will not only experience success, but you will also experience highly positive growth in your portfolio, residual income and bottom line.
I read once that the Great Depression was caused by speculation more than reality. A little bad news, carried to the extreme, became really bad news. If everyone had just taken a step back and looked at the reality of the situation, perhaps our parents and grandparents would not have had to suffer as significantly through that abysmal time.
Did it become very bad? Absolutely. But I theorize that much of the problem was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Negative news was reported for so long that, not only was it believed, it was embraced.
Your attitude can determine your future circumstances. Before a young salesman of a large manufacturer made his first two sales calls, his boss met with him to acquaint him with the clients' histories.
The boss told him the first client was a very tough cookie. His sales force had failed to sell the client anything - but the salesman should try anyway. He said the second client was a real pushover, and the salesman would surely get a sale every time he called on that prospect.
The next day, the salesman returned from a sales call with a very large order. He said the boss was right about the first customer; he was a real pushover. The boss replied that it was the second customer who was the easy-sell, not the first.
The salesman, thinking the first client was the easy-sell, had actually sold the hard-sell - someone who had never before placed a significant order with the firm. Indeed, this young salesman's perception of the circumstance became his reality.
I checked in with GS Online's MLS Forum on the idea of how attitudes shape careers. Here are some insights they shared:
"In all economies, in all situations throughout history, it is the professional salespeople who land on their feet or get on their feet faster than any other business sector.
"The ability to act instantly to changes in the macro and micro economies can, however, shift a salesperson from one type of sales to quite another. But this is all OK.
"As long as salespeople love what they do and love what they sell, there is no such thing as a recession. For a true sales professional, the opportunities never fade. They are, in fact, endless." - Mike Maxon
"The one thing you can control 100 percent of the time is your attitude. We, as salespeople, have to have knowledge of the negative but cannot let it affect our attitude.
"A positive and upbeat attitude not only shines through in your sales presentation, but it makes your day a lot more enjoyable.
"In my previous life as a salaried salesperson, we went through an unusually large price increase. All the salespeople were calling in to voice their concerns. I, too, called the vice president in charge of sales and told her that I was overweight, going bald and paid too much in taxes.
"I asked that if she could help with any of these problems, to please do so. If not, I said, I didn't remember ever being asked about the price before, so I would just continue to sell based on the one thing I could control: my positive attitude. It worked then, it works now, and I am sure it will work in the future.
"Here is my favorite quote from Charles R. Swindoll about attitude:
"'The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude.
"'I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.'
"I think he says it all." - Ladera Business Solutions
"If you are a salesperson, you are going to make sales as long as you believe in your product. I am not a free equipment guy, and only when necessary do we do a free equipment deal. But we ... charge a $99 one-time fee, $99 PIN-pad fee, and we buy used T7P thermals at a good price, and we give good rates.
"One thing today is merchants are interested in saving money and thinking of more creative ways to accept payments. Be creative, and you can make some sales." - CCGUY
Over the last several years, there has been a significant change in the number of companies doing business in the payments space.
And the sales model has evolved from one in which sales professionals offer solutions, or savings, to one in which they serve as consultants, to one in which they blend these techniques while establishing and maintaining genuine relationships.
Am I suggesting you must have a strong relationship with everyone you meet with? No. However, massive success in this or any industry today requires developing personal bonds. Unfortunately, many sales professionals don't invest in this area. Consider the following:
The question becomes, What are a few proactive behaviors MLSs can take to nurture their relationships and not just survive but thrive in any economy that's thrown at them? Here are some ideas:
Also, focus on emotional awareness. There are two lenses from which to view our emotions: internal and external. Internal awareness enables us to understand ourselves and use that knowledge to propose recommendations to move relationships forward.
External awareness enables us to express empathy and recognize other people's perspectives.
Why is this important? Because 98 percent of us buy products or services emotionally and then justify our decisions logically.
So, as Zig Ziglar says, "It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude."
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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