by Wayne Damron
"SALESPEOPLE ARE LIKE ARTISTS, they have big paintbrushes and have to know how to paint using wide strokes." This analogy, provided by Deborah Diefendorf, a District Sales Manager for Lynk Systems, Inc., is a good one to describe the ability of successful sales people to get to know all different types of people, to understand all different types of businesses and to read all types of buying signals.
The challenge is learning how to develop these "artistic" skills. In the following article, I outline the basic skills that a salesperson should master to cultivate sales success in the transaction processing industry.
Having a sound strategy for your initial approach to the merchant, including how you look,
how you act and how you introduce yourself gives you an incredible advantage. A salesperson in any type of selling
situation has to first sell himself — there's no other way. When you look professional, you can focus on developing
a relationship with the merchant and concentrate on the selling process.
Likewise, demeanor is important — being friendly, respectful, dignified and confident helps soften the merchant's natural "salesperson defense system". Merchants are hard to contact at best and the fact that we cold-call them and literally interrupt them means that we need to maintain dignity and show concern for their schedule. But at the same time we must realize that we have a great message and don't have to take a backseat to anyone or anything else going on in his day. The ultimate goal is for the merchant to be grateful that you came forward and brought him the message.
Your introduction should be brief and clear — explain who you are with and what you are
offering. Merchants are busy, so don't interrupt their day and then leave them wondering why you are there —
it naturally irritates them. I can't reinforce the importance of a simple introduction enough, you need to tell
them why you are there and follow it up with a buying proposition.
Generally when you approach a merchant, you have about ten seconds until he sizes you up and judges you — before he makes a judgment and closes you off, it's important to make a benefits statement. Good introductory phrases include: "If I can significantly reduce your costs..." or "If I can increase the value of your business...is that something you would be open to hearing about"? You aren't asking them it they are interested in your product or if they are going to buy, just if they are willing to hear more. The vast majority of merchants will say yes — which gives you the opportunity to tell them about your products in a very non-threatening way. It makes them want to talk with you and helps you begin to build a relationship.
The next step, now that you have introduced yourself and explained why you are there, is to
qualify the merchant. This involves soliciting yes or no answers to a series of questions. If you get a yes
answer, you continue to the next question. If you get a no, you stop and address any objections. Some good
first qualifying questions are "Are you interested in saving money", and "Are you the person who makes decisions
for the business". If you get yes answers to both questions, you are ready to make a presentation.
It's a good idea to steer away from using open-ended questions as qualifiers. If the merchant's answer isn't what you expected, you're in trouble. Although it might sound like a good idea to ask the merchant if they are happy with their current processor or when they last saw their existing sales rep, they could quickly rebuff you with a "yes I am happy and I just saw my rep yesterday". Which throws you off course and prevents you from being able to present your offerings.
A merchant's objection does not mean that he isn't interested in buying from you. It just
means he needs more information. Objections open the opportunity for a salesperson to create a sales dialog
and tell the merchant more. It's just the beginning. It should concern you more if a merchant is too eager to
sign with you and doesn't ask questions or pose objections.
A merchant who wants to sign up right away is the type of customer that you will lose just as easily when the next salesperson comes to call. Determining the true objection is the biggest task of a salesperson. Once you listen to a merchant's objections and overcome them, trust is built and you stand a better chance of closing the sale.
Now that you have engaged the merchant in positive dialog, it's important to review the
merchant's existing processing statements so you can determine their average ticket amount, their monthly
transaction volume and their existing rate. By telling the merchant you will give him a free analysis, you
can gain access to his statements. By acquainting yourself with the merchant's processing history, you can
present ways that you can save him money and increase his efficiency. Without the merchant's statements, you
can't effectively quote rates or suggest product solutions.
It is important for all salespeople, no matter what product they are selling, to maintain
control of the timing and flow of information to the customer. This is where having a planned presentation is
imperative. Begin by establishing company credibility by giving a brief company overview, then inquire about
the customer's needs — i.e. — review his statements, outline your present solutions and offer to activate the
merchant right away. By offering immediate set-up you are creating an early expectation of closing the sale.
If the merchant has no intention of buying from you, you're just wasting time, so its important to qualify him
up front, let him know what you are going to cover and then close the sale.
Using trial closes throughout your presentation is a great way to gauge what the merchant
is thinking. It also helps you determine whether you need to keep selling or proceed to the close. By asking
the merchant "how does this sound" you get feedback that will tell you whether you have successfully sold the
merchant or whether you need to overcome additional objections. How do you close? You ask the merchant for his
business. It's amazing how many salespeople make great presentations, overcome objections and fail at closing by
not asking the merchant for his business.
And finally, after you have made a successful sale, its important to be thinking of your
next sale — a great way to get new leads is to ask the merchant for referrals, right away. Since you have sold
him products and services that will add to his bottom line, he is sure to want to similarly help his friends
As simplistic as it seems, there is a right way to approach a merchant, and get him interested and get the sale. I've outlined the basic steps to incorporate into your sales presentation to achieve sales success. There are certainly mistakes that can cost you time and money, however there is one component vital to sales success that can't be taught — most of the successful sales people that I've met are not people who use big words, they're not people who have a lot of luck, they are people who work hard, every day.
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