COVID-19 has changed so many things about our world, from the way we work and interact with one another to how we buy and sell. However, the impact of COVID doesn’t stop with consumers and small business owners. It has also dramatically impacted those who sell credit card processing services.
For those of us in sales, we must continue to adapt to our ever-changing economy. At the start of the pandemic, this meant pivoting to selling over the phone, as opposed to door to door, as states went in and out of lockdown. It also heightened sales professionals’ awareness of what merchants need to succeed in this unique environment.
If you’ve been selling credit card processing for a long time, some of these things might seem like common sense. However, with many of us juggling working, parenting and possibly teaching, I think the following tips are worth discussing.
Tip #1: Focus on the merchant’s needs versus your typical sales pitch.
Given our current environment, it’s likely that your message sounds very different from the value proposition you focused on at the beginning of the year. A great example of this is the rapid growth of contactless payment options as businesses and consumers strive to stay safe and follow social distancing guidelines. Take a good hard look at your messaging and make sure it’s in line with your prospects’ priorities.
Tip #2: Sell with empathy.
Before we talk about what empathy is, I’d first like to say what it is not. Empathy is not pity. It is the unique ability to step into the shoes of another person, in this case a small business owner, with the goal being to truly understand their feelings, challenges and perspectives. Your role as a payments consultant is to then use those learnings to guide the merchant’s payments strategy.
Tip #3: Listen to understand.
It has been said that one of the biggest problems with communication is that so often we are listening to reply, rather than listening to understand. Consciously focus on active listening. This may seem obvious, but when someone is talking, pay attention. This is about more than just looking at them. Pay attention to their body language and eye contact. It’s also imperative that you don’t interrupt. Wait until the merchant is done talking, repeat what they said, ask questions and then respond.
Tip #4: Increase your focus on service.
Over the years, our industry has earned a bad rap with many sales professionals taking a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach to building their portfolio. By that I mean many who sell in this industry have been known to sign a merchant and then quickly move on to the next prospect, leaving many a small business owner wondering who to call when they need help.
Now more than ever, we should be increasing our focus on building trust with business owners and cultivating long-term relationships. This is where the true value is, and it can also help you with referrals. Make sure your customers know you will be available for them when the dust (or virus) settles.
Increasing your focus on service presents a unique balancing act. While it’s important to retain existing customers, make sure you have enough time to sell new merchants, even if that means scheduling time for prospecting.
Tip #5: Don’t beat yourself up.
Depending on where you live and your primary market, there is a good chance your sales are down from last year because of COVID-19. Plus, don’t forget that payments is a very cyclical industry. The summer months are always the hardest.
That’s why you need to focus on the process, not the results. You’re dealing with a lot of factors that are out of your control. Stay focused on the right activities and remember that you can only control what you do – nothing else. It’s easy to get discouraged. Success will come when you keep making calls, networking and asking for referrals from your current customers.
Above all, don’t forget to reach out for help. Sometimes help comes in the form of just having someone to bounce ideas off of. If you’d like to discuss these strategies and others, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to hear more about the challenges you are facing and navigate this challenging time together.