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How to Sell Merchant Services Over the Phone – 5 Keys

The episode today targets a topic that has probably been the most requested one I’ve ever had: how to sell merchant services over the phone. There is a really good reason why I’ve never discussed this here. I’ve done consulting for many companies that sell merchant services over the phone exclusively. They do the paperwork […]


The episode today targets a topic that has probably been the most requested one I’ve ever had:  how to sell merchant services over the phone.  There is a really good reason why I’ve never discussed this here.  I’ve done consulting for many companies that sell merchant services over the phone exclusively.  They do the paperwork and close the deals by phone.  The reason I’ve never published an episode about it is because I don’t want to give the wrong impression.  Selling merchant services by phone doesn’t mean just setting an appointment for a face-to-face meeting.  Selling merchant services by phone means totally closing the deal.  Actually selling merchant services on the phone is extremely difficult.

I don’t advise selling merchant services by phone if…

  • you don’t have a very solid background in telemarketing success – I’m referring to selling business owners over the phone.
  • you don’t have leads or something to go on.  I’ll talk more about that.

I recognize there are many of you in the industry who do have a good source of leads or a target audience and are going to sell merchant services over the phone.  I’ve done consulting for and much work with several companies which do that.  So, I want to give you my five keys to selling merchant services over the phone.

#1.  You need to have an excuse for making the call.  That is the most important thing right off the bat.  If you are calling people to sell them merchant services, your opening should NOT be, “Hi, my name is James Shepherd with XYZ processing company calling you about your payment processing needs.”  You’re an idiot.  You are never going to sell anybody; everyone will hang up on you.  Don’t do that.  You must have a better excuse for calling.

The best excuse I’ve seen to call is because the prospect reached out to you.  Pay for leads, even if something as simple as downloading a free eBook.  Then you can open with, “Hey, my name is James Shepherd.  I saw you downloaded our eBook.  How did you like that?”  You have an excuse to call.

Another good excuse to call if you don’t have money to buy leads is extreme targeting. Your opening would be, “Hi, my name is James Shepherd.  You guys are a hair salon, right?  Oh great!  I’m calling all the hair salons in Atlanta right now because we have a special partnership with the Atlanta Small Business Commerce Association, etc.”  Extreme targeting means calling a specific business type in a specific city.  Maybe even dropping the name of a couple other ones nearby would be helpful:  “I actually just got off the phone with Susan at XYZ company.  I think they are just down the street from you, right?”

Make sure you have an excuse for calling, and make sure it is a good excuse.

#2.  Show them value instantly.  Now, I am very biased toward our instant quote tool.  We offer a tool right on your phone.  By gleaning the tiniest little bit of information from prospects, the tool allows you to send them something.  Go to instantquotetool.com (or go to isoquote.com if you’re an ISO.)  You may have a pre-created html email, but the idea is showing them value as quickly as possible by sending them something.  You need to become more than just a person on the phone.  Until they open something from you (preferably an email or text, since those are the fastest), you’re just a robot.  I don’t care how good you are as a sales person.  So, while you are on the phone with prospects, they must get something from you.  Show them value.  If the call is to a specific vertical, make something about that vertical.  If it is a specific technology solution, use that angle.

#3.  You MUST keep them on the phone.  It’s not easy, believe me!  I’m referring to a call on which you haven’t won the prospect over, there is no indication of moving forward with the sales process.  Perhaps there are objections.  Say lines like, “One thing real quick, just one thing.”  Or, “Okay, let me ask you one more question real quick, and then I’ll let you go.”  Or, “Now one thing, hold on now, just one thing real quick.  May I say one thing?”  These kinds of statements are necessary to keep prospects on the phone.

If you don’t keep them on the phone, you are definitely not going to sell them over the phone.  That should be obvious, right?  But unfortunately, a lot of merchant services people don’t get that.  Instead, the agent may say, “Well, okay, I’ll call you tomorrow.”  Prospects won’t pick up the call tomorrow.  They’re not going to be any nicer to you tomorrow.  You’ve got to be relentless and keep them on the phone.

You must have the real quick statements ready to go.  Know your lines really well.  Practice is crucial!  Role play, role play, role play – lots of role play.  Practice keeping them on the phone.  That’s very, very important.

I would even go so far as to say that if there is a group of ten people all doing the same kind of selling merchant services over the phone in the same way, calling the same group of people, the person with the longest call time probably has the most sales.  

So, you must keep them on the phone, within reason, obviously.  If somebody is totally not interested, then that doesn’t matter.

#4.  Sell the first step.  Over the phone, you cannot sell a big, grand solution.  You’ve got to think through, “Okay, what does this prospect need?”  You can do solution selling for sure.  Find out what is needed; then focus on the very first step.  What action do you need the prospect to take?  Only one action.

Maybe you say, “I think that although we have some great options and point of sale, right now you are using a terminal.  I’ll tell you what let’s do.  Let’s go ahead and start by just setting up your merchant account, switching that terminal.  That will give you some good options.  Then what we’ll do is…” and then you go forward.  But the idea is to sell them and close them on the first step.  Don’t try to make a big sale over the phone.  It won’t work.

You’ve got to sell them in stages and not just to gain their interest.  The first thing you sell them has to be a small thing.  For example, “Just complete the merchant application because we need to activate your merchant ID number.  Then we can look at this next item.”  Have trial offers and low risk type things ready to present.

#5.  Complete the paperwork together.  Once you close them, then you say, “Okay, great! I’m going to go ahead and just email the paperwork over to you.  There are a couple things there on which you might have a question.  So, I’m going to hang on the line while you pull that up.  We can go through it together.”  If they say, “Well, I don’t really have time right now to go through it with you.”  You say, “Oh, no problem at all, how about we set an appointment for tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.?”  However, don’t send the paperwork; wait till tomorrow at 2:00 pm.  Send the paperwork while you are on the phone with the prospect; you go through it.  If you don’t do that, I promise prospects will hardly ever complete the paperwork.  This aspect is extremely difficult.  Ironically, the biggest challenge in selling over the phone is not getting them to say, “Yes,” although that is very hard.  What’s even harder is convincing them to complete the paperwork when you are not standing there next to them.  So, the closest thing to standing next to them by phone is to be on the phone with them when doing the paperwork.

Here’s one last side tip:  show prospects your face.  Let them see you.  There are several ways to do that.  Get their cell phone number.  Make a video about ten minutes after getting off the phone with a prospect.  You could say, “Hey, Bill, it was great talking with you today.  I just want to let you know I did send that email I told you I was going to send.”  The video should take only ten to fifteen seconds.  Then text the video.  Let prospects see your face.  They need to get in their head you are a real person.  That’s going to help a lot.

 Those are 5 keys to selling merchant services over the phone.

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