The one habit that ties all of the eight habits of successful independent sales agents together is the habit of building relationships. We’ve talked in this series about how you can forge connections over social media, through careful listening, and with intentional prospecting. But the success of these methods is built on your likability and ability to earn merchants’ trust. It seems too simple to be true, but establishing a real relationship with merchants actually takes some practice.
There’s a myth out there that success is defined as being able to continually sign deals and “collect” a lot of merchants. I’ve heard horror stories of agents ignoring their merchants until the merchant calls with an issue, or even worse, until they realize that the merchant has switched to a different processor.
Making sure that your merchants like you and are confident in your work doesn’t need to be hard or stressful. Here are some simple tips to improve your likability and to make a habit of building strong relationships:
Figure out the merchant’s WHY. Make it your mission to understand your merchant’s “why.” Learn what their passions, their goals and motivations are, and discover what makes them tick. Use those interests and follow up on them. This could be as simple as finding out that they’re a dog-lover, and sending them a funny dog video, or as significant as taking time to have a conversation about their business goals or vision for their business. You never know how your interest in their life could impact your business relationship.
Show merchants that YOU LIKE THEM. It’s one thing to read up on their favorite restaurant in their hometown or to send them articles written by their favorite writer. It’s another thing to be genuine in your conversation. People like people who like them; it’s a fact. Greet them excitedly, laugh at their jokes, and make them feel good about themselves and their business. If you can show them that you like them as a person and you like their work, it’s likely you will earn their loyalty for merchant services.
SEND them something special. When I was sick recently, I opened my front door to find an unexpected “porch present” from a friend. The tea and cookies were delicious, but it was my friend’s thoughtfulness that brightened my day. You can have the same impact on a merchant’s day. If you’re not into “porch presents,” you can send a text or an email with something that made you think of them. Tag them in a comment or social media post that lets them know you remember them. Better yet, do it on their birthday. It may seem silly, but people like it when you remember their birthday. You could even send a card or small gift.
ADMIT YOUR WEAKNESSES. This one’s hard. No one likes to be vulnerable, and no one likes to admit there are things they don’t do well. But being able to be honest with merchants can actually be a great tool, and could really make them like you more. Obviously, don’t be too extreme; stay confident. But, for example, if you’re a rambler or have a hard time keeping your conversations focused, let your merchant know you’re struggling with it, and that you’re trying to do better. They’ll appreciate your candor and might find your honesty refreshing.
SMILE! This one’s pretty simple, and it seems obvious. But our body language is particularly obvious when we’re making new connections, and it never hurts to be actively smiling, waving, and nodding. Maybe not all at the same time though 😉 For more tips about body language and conversation, check out this great video from one of my favorite business coaches and motivational speakers Marie Forleo to see what she has to say about a positive attitude.
Working to improve your likability and forge stronger relationships with your merchants will certainly help you grow your merchant services business. It might also bring some joy and additional fulfillment to your life.
What do you do to grow your merchant relationships?