In The Trenches
Guide to Appearing Big to
the Customer When You're not!

by Steve Pavent

   To start, grow or maintain a smaller sales office one of the biggest hurdles to get over is that of credibility! You can be the most honest salesperson, with the best service in the world and you'll lose sales if you and the companies you represent don't appear credible. Over the years we've developed many low cost high impact methods from appearance to voicemail that help you appear larger and more credible!
   So let's start with appearence. Take a look in the mirror, would you buy from you? Does your look and grooming instill confidence and trust? Ask yourself, who is your target market and what type of look puts them most at ease? I firmly believe that if you're going to speak with smaller business owners you can overdress and look too opulent. Take stock in what you're wearing and your body language, because your prospects certainly will. Even better, standing tall with your head up and looking your prospects in the eye is free!
   Another very important aspect of appearing credible is business cards. Quite simply don't skimp! Your business cards are the second thing your customers see after looking you over and will represent you after you leave. Don't be cheap, use color, use quality stock, use foil, have them embossed, print on both sides, something that presents the image you want. Often quality cards only cost 20-30% more to print, but their impact is 500% greater than a basic business card. Also, always put every service you offer somewhere on your card. I can't even count the number of times that someone I had approached about processing has looked at my business card and said "Oh, you have _____. Tell me about that." Last, make sure all your contact info including web site and matching email is on your card.
   Next, have demo equipment to carry with you when you have an appointment-rich day. Your credibility goes up dramatically when your customer can see, touch, feel and be involved with the equipment you're proposing. Even if it's not the same piece of equipment they will get, you can show them how certain features will work. Depending on what other features & programs best fit the customer, tell them that the machine they're getting will look different, yet they have still seen the basics of how the program will operate. Most importantly you've shown that you understand the technology in which you want your prospect to invest.
   Many people think the Internet has gone bust. Yet the Internet is the single most important thing that will allow you to compete with and beat the big guys. First, you must have an up-to-date & informative web site! There are many solutions that are available today that allow you to build and control your own site and you don't have to be a computer wizard. We use a simple 10 page web site solution that is around $10 per month. We also offer it to our customers alone or with a 20 item shopping cart for around $20 per month. Using the products and services that you offer your customers, and having a clean and informative web site goes a long way. Get your own URL and make sure you get matching email. That's the, .net or .biz and an email or [email protected], .net or .biz. Representing a company and then having an email of [email protected] is not very impressive. Especially since you can own your own name for around $20 per year.
   Having a good working knowledge of the products and services you offer costs you nothing. Maybe you have to spend a few extra hours tinkering with your demo equipment or reading your trade journals. But lost sales will surely be the price you pay for not having a solid grasp of what you're selling. Stay on top of your game, it will increase your confidence along with your credibility.
   Make sure you have a professional presentation. Many vendors or processors will just send you a binder of photocopied junk, with little to no ongoing support. I've often wondered why some wouldn't put more effort and thought into supporting their agents and offices? If your vendors don't supply anything comprehensive, it's easy and inexpensive to put a great presentation together on your own. Remember "benefits sell, features tell!"
   Last on my list is a corporate voicemail system. There are many solutions available today from local telecomm providers to products off the shelf at Office Depot for a small monthly fee or a few hundred dollars. There's not much that can decrease a prospect's confidence more than calling and hearing a simple answering machine or voicemail box with poor sound quality and unprofessional message. Many times you can find a vendor that will provide a voicemail box on their system and have their receptionist answer the phone for you! If you do record your own content on a software based or store bought system try to have someone with a good professional voice to read a well thought out message. A woman's voice is most often preferred.
   By using the above suggestions you can appear larger than you are, instill trust and credibility in your prospect and make that sale. All without breaking the bank!