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For most businesspeople who work in the merchant services industry, your number one goal is often going to be to get more accounts. Just about everyone in this business tends to focus on those numbers. The strategy for getting there is usually the same, too: Sell, sell, and sell some more.
In my case, though, I've always taken the path less trodden. As counterintuitive as it sounds, in my experience the best way to get as many new merchants as possible is actually to stop selling to people.
Now, at first blush, this may sound silly to you. You may be chuckling to yourself and saying, “Yeah, I guess I'll just wait around until the customers just jump into my lap and beg me to sign them up, right?” Hear me out for a second, though, before you dismiss the idea entirely.
We're all customers at some point—sometimes every single day. You've probably had the experience of being “sold to” and having some random sales associate trying to pitch you a product. Since you're in sales as well, the little spiels that they try to throw your way may be extra transparent, but believe me when I say that all consumers in general know the deal by now. Basically nearly every salesperson will say a few key things:
They go on and on about the features of their product—like you care. They may even interrupt you when you're about to ask a question or make a suggestion because they weren't done running their script. Lots of times you may not even ask for this; you're assaulted with attention the moment you walk into a store with commission-based sales associates.
Do you respond well to these kinds of tactics? Maybe every once in awhile, they might say something that will make you interested. Chances are, though, you probably couldn't wait for them to be done listening to their own voice so that you could get back to what you were doing, right? You might even remember these sorts of encounters long after they happen, and promise to yourself that you won't be “that guy.”
But then why do so many people still try to sell merchant services this way? You might not realize that you're even doing it, but if you're trying to convince and persuade someone into signing a deal, you're going about it the wrong way. So many potentially talented people shy away from sales exactly because of this reason—because selling has a bad reputation from these high-pressure tactics.
You hate it when people “sell” to you, so why would you do this to your merchants?
In my mind, taking a different approach is not only objectively better, but it helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you're not sure what approach you've been taking, ask yourself a few questions:
If so, you're using the same approach as most of your competitors—you are going through the traditional “selling” motions.
You can turn things around, however. You simply have to become more conscious of these bad habit cycles in order to rid yourself of them. It might be a little weird to switch from strategies that you're very used to, but if I did it, then you certainly can too. Here are some tips:
1. Have their consent every step of the way. Make sure that they want to hear you, first of all. Don't assume they want to hear your pitch.
2. Focus on their needs first. Don't bother rattling off features before you even know what the merchant needs. Ask them important questions about how their credit card processor could be better. This will keep both of your from wasting your time. You don't want to try to sell someone a product that they don't need.
3. Shut up and listen closely. Stop talking. Just listen to what they have to say. If there is a pause, just wait. Keep them talking as much as possible so that you can learn about them.
4. You can leave. Don't put them in a position where you have overstayed your welcome, but they are too polite to kick you out. Give them many openings to dismiss you. There's no use wasting your time on someone who doesn't want to work with you.
Focus on following these tips and you might just find that things work out surprisingly well. When you get rid of the partial matches and only work with people who really want your services, you can charge a price that's fair to both of you, and you won't have to compete on price quite as much. In the end, this makes for a much healthier profit for you, and it also insures that you're not running around annoying random merchants who don't want what you're selling. It saves everyone a lot of trouble.
Maybe you're already implementing this sort of selling style. If so, how did it work out for you? Did it increase or decrease your revenue? Do you have any tips for others on how to focus on problem-solving over selling? Let me know.
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