In The Trenches

by Steve Pavent

   You hear so much about price and shrinking margins these days. Most merchants have already been lowered to a point where it's difficult to legitimately save them a ton of money by giving them a lower rate. Yeah you'll find people who haven't switched in a long time or people who were "bait and switched" by signing on with low teaser rates and have since been raised.
   Now I almost laugh out loud when a prospect calls and the first words out of their mouth is "what's your rate?" Now I have fun with people that blurt that out. I'll often answer "10%" you'll see or hear the shock. Then I'll say, "But you get a 9.5% rebate so it only costs you _ %. Then they become interested again. Then I'll say "but there's a $500 annual fee" and again you'll see or hear shock. "But we give you a free terminal and supplies" and again they perk up. So I go on to explain there are No other fees. No transaction fees, No interchange, No downgrades, No batch, No insurance, Nothing at all! Only _% and $500 annual with a free terminal and supplies. But, they'll have to sign a lifetime contract that says I can add in or change any of these fees at my discretion and if they cancel they will owe me the $500 annual fee times the number of years we estimate they will live. By this point the person is looking at you like you are nuts.
   So it is a good time to reel them back in and explain how our business can be a shell game of hiding or disguising fees and obligations; then, showing them how your program is straightforward, clean and honest. That is if you have a straight forward, clean and honest program. But what have I done here? I've shown the prospect how a program can look Bad, Great, Bad, Great, Bad depending on what I was telling them. In an entertaining way and in less than a minute, you've shown them many other aspects to be concerned about other than rate. You've created doubt, and maybe a little fear that their feelings about a program can easily be swayed by what aspects of the program a salesperson discloses.
   At this point I'd give them a little run down of how the industry works and how we all have relatively the same costs. I'll guide the conversation that payment processing is an ongoing relationship not a one-time purchase and then I'll give them a great story that drives home the point. I'll ask them to play a little game and make believe they are shopping for a car. I'll ask them to pick the car that they'd like... Always get your prospects participating and talking. Once they pick a car I tell them to imagine two dealerships with the exact same car. One has the car for $1000 less than the other and I'll ask them which they would buy? Well you guessed it they'll always pick the lower price. Then I tell them "Wait, there's a catch." Now let's make believe that you have to take the car to only that dealership for service. Now the less expensive car has a problem so you drop it off and they tell you to come back after work. So one of your coworkers is nice enough to bring you by the dealership after work and the car isn't done. They make you wait an hour. But you finally get your car and there's dirt on the seat and greasy fingerprints on the steering wheel. You're tired and hungry so you don't complain and you leave. As you're driving home you hear the same noise you brought it in for. Guess you're going back the next day. Just like XYZ processing.
   Now you have the "more expensive" dealership. You call them and tell them you have a "bump, bump" noise. They say no problem and come by your place of business the very next day to pick up your car. They deliver it back to you before the end of the day with the problem completely fixed. You go out at the end of the day to see that they gave your car a complementary wash and wax. Wow. So you get into your nice shiny car and you find that they vacuumed. If that's not enough there's a thank you note on your dashboard stating that your mileage was close to some regularly scheduled maintenance so they changed your oil. Now which car would you buy? Do you still think the other one is a bargain? Did you really save $1000? Remember the day I just described was just one of many to come.
   If you believe that price is the only variable or the most important variable on which people are basing decisions, it's simply because you have given them no other variables to consider. When I say "giving" them variables I don't mean saying "oh our customer service is great"! Everyone says that. Avoid platidues. Defined as:

  • A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant.
  • Lack of originality; triteness.
Great, Largest, Best, 24/7, Guaranteed

   Here is a good example that I bet is in your brochure. "We are one of the leaders in the bankcard industry with 2 million years experience" ha ha. Ever notice how everyone is an "industry leader" or "one of the fastest growing". This stuff falls on deaf ears and you may as well be saying "Blah blah blah". The only question left will be "how much will it cost"? You're supposed to sell and selling means more than spouting out some platitudes and telling them what it costs.
   As my business continues to grow I notice this price problem more and more. Good, intelligent agents who say, "Oh I could never sell at that price," "you don't understand," "you're not in my market," "it's so competitive." They sigh in disbelief when I tell them we just recruited an agent 45 minutes away who just wrote a $69 per month lease. My partner and I go to their areas to do training and write deals at 1.65%, .22 with a $10 statement fee and $24 annual fee that includes gift cards and check service. Yet, I can sense the disbelief when I use that to rebut their whining that they can barely write deals at 1.59% and .20 with a $5 statement and no annual fees with no other services attached.
   People that think like this know who they are! I'm not trying to beat you up. I'm just trying to make you see there's another way. Because I bet there's someone writing a big fat deal in your town today. Wouldn't it be nice if it were you? Oh one last thing, deliver what you promise and represent services and products that you would own yourself. Because if you get a champagne price and deliver a lite beer service, that just makes you a crook!