Survive & Thrive

by Marc Beauchamp

   Okay � you gave a great presentation, answered all their concerns, responded to objections, but you couldn't get them to sign on the dotted line. Wouldn't it be awesome if 100% of the presentations you made were sold? But unfortunately the average bankcard salesperson will only close around 20%-30% of their presentations on their first visit. The real money is made in the next step of the sales process � follow-up.
   Regardless of how you got to this stage it's now critical that a well-designed follow-up plan is executed. This is the one area where I see most average salespeople drop the ball on a consistent basis. They fail to maintain customer contact for several reasons including; bad time management, lack of organizational skills or just plain laziness. Superior or even above average follow-up skills will increase sales dramatically and your residual stream as well.
   If you're working a large group of prospects, rate them from a high to low probability of purchasing. Concentrate the majority of your energy on those merchants with the highest possibility of closing in the shortest time frame. Just be aware that more sales are made in the follow-up stage than any other.
   Make it a point to incorporate customer follow-up as a part of your daily sales routine. Don't just follow-up on potential sales prospects but touch base with existing customers to ensure they are getting what was promised and to generate additional business or referrals. This is a critical step in establishing and maintaining a long-term partnership with your merchants. Remember � "out of sight, out of mind" � don't lose your hard earned merchant to the next guy that knocks on their door who is prepared provide the service that you aren't.
   If you're working with a new merchant make sure you have a preset follow-up date and time before leaving the location. If you left the appointment and agreed to call to follow-up next Tuesday at 2:00, then be true to your word and call next Tuesday at 2:00. Nothing impresses a customer more than the demonstration that you honor your commitments.
   In order to keep track of customers and prospects ensure you maintain a contact database (Outlook, Act or Goldmine are good choices) or a paper follow-up system as a last resort. Keep vital information on each sale such as equipment purchased, services installed, discount rate, type of business and key contact info. By maintaining a current database you can run reports, track sales and design future marketing campaigns. For example, you could run a report to locate all the customers that do not have a gift card program and when the monthly or quarterly follow-up call is made mention the advantages of gift cards and how it will improve their bottom line.
   Also, review your monthly residual reports, check for merchants that have spikes in their business or who have not processed. It might be the perfect time to make a call to see if they want to add another terminal to handle the increased volume or add a mobile unit for a remote location.
   Another great technique we can borrow from the insurance industry is to send cards for special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays. Always include a business card or two, this will keep your name in front of them and works as a great tool to increase your referrals.
   Here are some pointers to help close follow-up sales:

  • Send a thank you note
  • Fax or email an industry related article. (i.e. smart card implementation, fraud or debit related)
  • Call with a special limited time offer or special
  • Send an e-card or postcard
  • Refer a customer to their company
  • Send your company newsletter

   Make it a goal to contact existing customers at least four times per year. It may seem like a lot of additional work but when you get that referral or call that they are adding a new location it will be time well spent.
   Follow-up is not the most glamorous part of selling but exceptional follow-up can be the key to retaining valuable clients, gaining new sales and maintaining your residual stream.