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Street SmartsSM:
Coffee is for Closers
By Ed Freedman

This column is the last of my six-part series covering all the bases that every Merchant Level Salesperson must understand to be successful in this phenomenal business of ours. Closing deals happens to be my favorite topic to write about, speak about and instruct. In my opinion, this is the one area that separates a professional from a hack.

One of my favorite scenes from a must-see movie for any sales professional illustrates my feelings on this subject. It comes from "Glengarry Glen Ross" when Alex Baldwin gave his famous presentation:

" ... Put that coffee down. Coffee is for closers only. ... Because only one thing counts in this life - get them to sign on the line which is dotted. 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' 'A' always, 'B' be, 'C' closing. Always be closing. Always be closing."

Recently, I placed the following post on The Green Sheet MLS Forum for feedback on the hot topic of closing deals.

"Because I am committed to helping Merchant Level Salespeople dramatically expand their business, I'm dedicating my next 'Street SmartsSM' column to CLOSING DEALS.

Please send me feedback on the following questions, and I'll be sure to include it in the discussion:

    _ "What are your most effective closing questions?

    _ "What are your most effective closing techniques? _ "What are the best resources that have improved your selling skills (e.g., online resources, seminars, books, tapes)?

    _ "What's your most effective technique for overcoming price objections?

    _ "What are the most common objections you hear during the sales process? How do you respond to them?

"Remember, your voice needs to be heard. Be sure to indicate whether you'd like your name and company noted in the article."

Here are some of the responses:

What are your most effective closing questions?

Chuck Saden, President, POS Card Processing:

"When are you going live?"

Doug Kelly, Service Technologies Group:

"Would you like to start putting money back into your pocket?"

Al Gorthym:

"This is tough because it really varies from merchant to merchant; it really depends on the specific wants and needs of that merchant. I stress the service aspect, the fact that I will be there for them. The question there would be, 'Would you like my home phone number?' "

What are your most effective closing techniques?

Saden: "Socratic Method of Selling."

Kelly: "Side-by-side comparison showing them where they will save money and translate that into real dollars."

Gorthym: "PREPARATION!!! I know as much as possible about the merchant, the industry, the area, the type of business, etc. before I go in. Then I ask a lot of questions and LISTEN CAREFULLY to the responses. I also have a list of about five or six references, other merchants, whose permission I've gotten to use them."

What are the best resources that have improved your selling skills (i.e. online resources, seminars, books, tapes)?

Saden: "Wilson Seminars - a very expensive program from the '70s that introduced the Pain/Pleasure/Avoid Pain motivational slant now used by Tony Robbins and many others.

W. Clement Stone's Personal Sounds of Success" 16 audio tapes which include:

  • "As A Man Thinketh" - James Allen
  • "Acres of Diamonds" - Russell H. Conwell
  • "The Success System that Never Fails and Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude" - narrated by Stone himself.
  • "Compensation" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Think And Grow Rich" - narrated by Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale
  • "Who Cares About Me?" - Bill Sands
  • "The Other Wise Man" - Henry Van Dyke.
  • "Your Four Minute Mile" - Clarence Blasier.
  • "Your Greatest Power" - J. Martin Kohe.
  • "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life" - narrated by Og Mandino.
  • "Where to Find the Secrets of Success" - W.H.M. Stover.
  • "How to Manage Money, Save Money, and Acquire Wealth" - Ed Burgh.
  • "How to React to a Self-Help Book and How to React to an Inspirational Tape" - narrated by Stone.

Kelly: "Talking to people who have 'been there, done that.' I find no teacher like experience. And Zig Ziglar tapes. I love the guy."

Gorthym: "I read the books, I do about one seminar a year, and that all really helps ... but the one thing that has made me a better salesman is LISTENING!!! Talking to my existing customers, to my prospects, to other businesspeople. If you let someone talk long enough, they will tell you exactly what it is that they want."

What's your most effective technique for overcoming price objections? Saden: "Compare your services to other professional services. Are you going to use the lawyer that runs a TV spot every day claiming to solve all of your IRS problems for $25? If you have open heart surgery, are you going to pick a doctor based on the co-pay?"

Kelly: "If you could get the service you need, when you need it, and the support and security of a solid industry leader, would you sign today?"

Gorthym: "Price is only an issue in the absence of value. I work very hard to create value from the very first contact with the merchant. If offered a product that meets all their wants and needs at a reasonable price, most people will buy.

For me, at least, the key is to make the issue one of proper application. If you NEED a knife, and a knife costs $100, you'll pay $100 for a knife. The other guy wants to sell you a spoon for $25 ... but you just told me that you NEED a knife."

What are the most common objections you hear during the sales process? How do you respond to them?

Saden: " ' I have to think about it.' Response: Five-Point Rebuttal Formula and Socratic Method."

Kelly: " 'I hear some awful stories about those machines.' 'I need some time to think about it.' Response: It depends upon how comfortable I feel with the customer, but usually it is a matter of, 'Mr. Prospect, if they were all that bad, everyone wouldn't be using them, would they?' 'Mr. Prospect, I do not want you to do anything you don't want to. I want you to make an informed decision. What information do you need to start saving money today?' "

Gorythm: "I'd say price, rate, that sort of thing ... I just try to create as much value as possible from the first contact."

Ed's Five Easy Steps

Now it's my turn to weigh in on getting the merchant to sign on "the line that is dotted. " The difference between a professional salesperson and a hack is that a professional salesperson has a game plan for every sales presentation, whether it is in person or over the phone.

The successful closer controls the process. The successful closer can take a prospect from cold to close in five easy steps. Let me show you my secrets to closing more deals:

  1. First, break the ice. You need to introduce yourself and make the prospect feel comfortable speaking with you. I have no idea why people like talking about the weather or their local sports teams - but they do. For whatever reason, it's easy to get the process started on one of these subjects. Here are some examples of how to break the ice:
    • "How are you today?"
    • "What's happening in your neck of the woods?"
    • "I see you're from San Antonio ... how about them Spurs?"

    • "How's the weather? This is the hottest, driest summer in years ..."

  2. Next, interview the merchant. Ask lots of questions that lead your prospect to make small commitments along the way. Use their answers to help you explain and validate your recommendation.

    Here's a key, strategic question to ask initially. You will use the answer to this question to set up an effective closing technique:

    "Do you have a time frame in mind as to when you want to be set up and running with your merchant account service? Immediately? A week? Two weeks?"

    Additional questions you'll want to include are:

    • "What is the business name you want to appear on your customers' credit card statements? Do you have a checking account in that same name?"
    • What is your estimated monthly sales volume for the next three to six months? What is your estimated average sale amount?"
    • "How would you describe your personal credit history? Excellent, fair or poor?"

    If your prospect wants to process transactions on the Internet, then ask the following:

    • "Do you have a Web site or are you planning to set one up in the near future?"
    • "Do you currently have a shopping cart program installed on your Web site? Do you need a shopping cart program to help them accept and process credit card payments?"
    • "Do you have a pre-set idea of which virtual terminal/payment gateway you want to use?" _ "Does your Web hosting company have a preference or pre-set list of acceptable virtual terminal/payment gateway providers?"
    • "Do you need a recurring billing feature?"
    • "Do you need an e-check processing service?"

  3. After you've broken the ice and interviewed the merchant, now it's time to make a recommendation. Based on the answers to the questions posed, you've garnered a full understanding of your prospect's needs and are ready to provide a specific solution.

    Here's how to present it. Make this opening statement part of your regular closing vocabulary and watch your sales grow: "Based upon what you've just explained your needs to be, I would recommend ..."

    Then include examples of retail terminal equipment, wireless terminals, offline credit card processing software or online Internet commerce software and any other quality products and services that fit your prospect's business profile.

  4. Next, you must provide the prospect with a good explanation of the start-up costs as well as what needs to be done logistically to get the merchant account service up and running. For example, you might want to say:

    "Other than the fees that Visa, MasterCard and the bank charge you to process credit cards, these are your costs to get started ..."

  5. What follows next is the assumptive close. Here's where that key initial question smoothly transitions you right into a strong close. Start by saying:

    "Based upon the time frame you told me, you'd like to be set up and running ___ (refer back to their answer to your initial question). To do that, we need to get this process started today. Are you ready to hire me to get this job done?"

    The best part of this assumptive close is that it does not matter whether they tell you they need to get set up in two days, two weeks or a month. We always need to get started TODAY!

One final tip: Always deliver your presentation with excitement and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious, and prospects respond positively to sales professionals who show a real interest in what they are selling.

So there you have it - my secrets to closing deals. Here is a professional, planned sales call that is a secret no longer, but I offer one last secret weapon: I'd like to recommend a MUST READ book. It's Zig Ziglar's "Secrets of Closing the Sale." This book gives you practical advice and effective questioning techniques that you can use to transform prospects into clients.

As always, I'd love to hear from you. Please send feedback on this topic (and any others) to My next column series will focus on the resources available to Merchant Level Salespeople in our industry.

Please watch for my Green Sheet MLS Forum Post on this topic. I'd really like to include your opinions in that discussion. "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."

- Zig Ziglar

I'll see you next time where the rubber meets the road.

Ed Freedman is founder and President/CEO of Total Merchant Services, one of the fastest-growing credit card merchant account acquirers in the nation. Ed is the driving force behind all business development activity as well as the execution of Total Merchant Services' marketing plan, including recruiting and training independent sales offices and establishing strategic alliance partnerships with leading vendors, so that Total Merchant Services can provide its customers with the highest quality and most reliable services available. To learn more about Total Merchant Services, visit To learn more about partnering with Total Merchant Services, visit or contact Ed directly at

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