Change Your Approach, Raise Your Income
TODAY'S MARKETPLACE DEMANDS HIGHLY SKILLED SALES PROFESSIONALS.
This translates into individuals who know their product and more
importantly, know how to build merchant relationships through
properly developed communication skills.
Believing the initial approach to be critical in the success of
your sale will help you achieve remarkable results. Once we
believe we can change our style, we must also understand some of
society's basic concepts of salespeople, how our merchants
conduct their business and some basic human emotions. All these
areas play a crucial role in how your merchant perceives you and
how you should develop your first approach.
Today's society is fickle. People are quick to "click" on or
off subjects or people who do not quickly capture their
interest. Therefore when approaching a new merchant, if you do
not capture their attention immediately, they are apt to "click"
you off. You will most likely expend tremendous energy with
someone who is not listening. In addition, most merchants, as
most people, have a basic fear of sales- people. This fear alone
often sabotages a prospective sale if your initial approach does
not capture your merchant's attention quickly.
Much of the fear about new salespeople stems from our
childhood. How often did you hear "don't talk to strangers?"
Also, in our adult lives we have all encountered the "fast
talker," the salesperson full of form but not of substance.
Buyers have suffered disappointments from salespeople making
promises that were never kept or having made a purchase from a
salesperson where they felt the value for the cost was not
there. Don't forget, all these experiences shape current
attitudes toward salespeople. The fear of the salesperson is
grounded in our life experiences.
Now it should become clearer as to why merchants often respond
unfavorably when confronted with a salesperson with a less than
acceptable first approach. With this in mind, let's move forward
and look at some techniques that might help turn this sales
process into a successful and profitable meeting.
In meeting a prospect for the first time, you must work to come
across as non-threatening. Everyone feels good when they work
with people they like and trust. The prospect has to feel safe
with you and in feeling safe they will not let down their
protective barriers. Your approach must not only make your
merchant feel safe, but also create an atmosphere that makes
them curious about you, your product or service.
A simple thought to remember, create an environment in which
your prospect will welcome you back. Your approach with your new
prospect must be positive, allowing the merchant time to get to
know you. The merchant must feel comfortable with you from the
start or you will probably not get a second chance to give that
first impression. When you create a positive and safe
atmosphere, you will have a greater opportunity to move your
meeting into the presentation stage. Again, creating a safe
environment opens the door for you and your merchant to continue
your relationship building process.
Remember that should your initial approach fail, you will have
to work much harder to make it to the close.
Why so much emphasis on the first approach? The first approach
to your customer is the first impression you make - it will stay
with that customer forever. If your first approach is weak, then
it is an uphill battle to maintain their interest level. They
could "click" you off in an instant if you don't have their
attention. There is a constant game of psychological warfare
going on at all times between you and your merchant. Your
merchant is nervous about buying something from a stranger and
may be quick to say, "I am not interested." This often-heard
comment comes from merchants who, for whatever reason, are
afraid to meet you.
The initial approach is personal and must come from you as an
individual or it won't sound real. However, your initial contact
may come in several different ways, i.e., phone call, e-mail,
fax or an in-person visit. Although each contact may be
different, you can start out by asking the right questions.
Remember that the sales process is not about you, it's about the
merchant and for the most part, they do not know you and they
did not invite you to contact them.
Here are a few questions that might help you get started:
"Mr. Merchant, do you currently have an employee training
"When was the last time your equipment was serviced?"
"Are you aware of Interchange surcharges?"
By asking these types of questions, you will keep the merchant
thinking about who you are and what you have to offer.
Think about the impression you want to leave with this
merchant. You want them to think you are knowledgeable about
your product, that you will educate and teach their employees,
that you are customer service oriented and that again, they feel
safe doing business with you.
Now the merchant is formulating an opinion and makes a decision
as to whether or not they will continue to keep listening and
move forward. Hopefully you have begun the first stage of a
merchant relationship and you will be welcomed back to complete
your sale. Because selling does not always come naturally to
everyone, here is a list of ideas that should help organize your
thoughts and help you create that perfect first approach.
Remember the prospect must always know why you are there, for
example; do you want your merchant to just listen during this
meeting or do you want them to buy?
Decide on your initial greeting. Develop two or three opening
questions. Understand the response you expect to receive. What
will your tone of voice be? Speak softly and slowly. What do you
sound like? Are you credible? How much time do you expect to
take with this first meeting? (Watch for signs that your time is
up) Do you know the effect of your appearance? What will your
body language say about YOUR interest level? Where will your
eyes be looking? What does your business card say about you and
your company? Do you know what your other merchants say about
you? How close will you sit or stand to your customer? What
material will you hand to your prospect? Will your handshake be
firm? How much will you talk and how much will you listen? (You
should listen a lot!)
You should be able to personally answer and feel comfortable
with all of these questions. Add more as you can think of past
sales calls that could have had a better outcome. Use your
answers to help strategize your personal first approach. Develop
a real passion for making your approach productive and
The bottom line - change your approach and watch your income