When I got into Merchant Services several years back, my opening pitch was simple and to-the-point. It was very effective in my rural and not terribly competitive market. Merchant Services has changed a lot over the last five years. Some of these changes have impacted the opening pitch that I now use in the field. I still use many of the same elements of the opening pitch, but especially the first ten seconds are very different.
I start off with what is called a “pivot” in sales. A “pivot” allows you to say something you need to say without allowing the prospect to respond to the statement of fact. There are certain words in your opening that can cause you trouble. These words are any variation of “Merchant Services.” For instance, “Hi, my name is James Shepherd, and I provide Merchant Services.” This statement is almost always followed by, “We are not interested” from the merchant. Although you need to state who you are, how do you do that without getting a quick boot out the front door? Here is my “pivot”:
“Hi, my name is James Shepherd. I just have a quick question for you. I have a local business right here in [City Name] providing credit card processing services. (Pivot to…) I was just curious; is this a single location, corporate or franchise business?”
This pivot statement does two things. First of all, it allows you to state in no uncertain terms what you do and, by extension, the reason you are there (obviously, you are there to provide them with your services.) However, at the same time the pivot never gives the merchant a chance to respond to this statement. It also opens up a quick and to-the-point conversation that will either qualify or disqualify the prospect.
In our new Marketing Platform, I even created a special field called “Location Type” where you can store this data. It is very useful to have. Here are the three location types and how you need to move forward with each in your pitch:
- “Single Location” – This business type is becoming more and more rare, especially in heavily populated cities. Last week I walked into every business in a mini-mall and found only three single location businesses out of about twenty with whom I spoke. The single location business is your bread and butter. The sales cycle time should be very short, no more than one week. The following should be your response if you find yourself in a single location business: “Great! There are so many big companies around here; to find a truly local business like mine is nice. (Then jokingly say…) We have to stick together; don’t we?” Next you can casually remark, “I know you are busy today. Just one more quick question – who are you currently using to process your credit cards?” Or an even better way to phrase this is to insert the two most popular processors in the area by saying, “Many businesses out here use Processor1 or Processor2. Are you with one of them or one of the other big national processors?”
- “Franchise” – This business type is always really tricky. The truth is that many merchant services sales people avoid these great prospects because they don’t understand how franchises really work. When I am in the field, I always walk into Taco Bells, Pizza Hut (all the “YUM” brands – you can look them up) and most of the other “franchises.” What you have to understand is that these franchise businesses are either “corporate owned” or “franchise owned.” If they are “corporate owned,” just wish them well and walk out. If they are franchise owned, your big challenge will be getting in contact with the franchise owner. I follow up my opening by saying this, “So who actually makes the decision as far as hiring a credit card processing company? Do all the franchises use the same one or does each franchise owner make that decision for himself?” At that point is the time to track down the decision maker. The great thing about these prospects is that the owner of a taco bell usually owns multiple franchises.
- “Corporate” – This is a term even more misunderstood than “franchise.” I am going to write other blog articles about selling these business types, so in this post I will just focus on explaining what “corporate” means. When a location says they are “corporately” owned, that just means that a corporation owns the location. This could mean that a local business man has a small one-room office on the other side of town and has three small retail stores. Or it could mean that a business has headquarters in Dallas, TX, with 500 locations nationwide. Just ask the contact, “Where is your corporate office located?” If it is within a half hour or so, ask who handles vendor relationships so you could put in a bid on the credit card processing. Then follow-up with that individual in person by driving to the corporate office and letting him or her know you are a local company interested in making a bid on their credit card processing.
I hope this short sales tip will make your time in the field much more productive! Plan to walk into at least twenty businesses tomorrow and try this pitch. I think you will be surprised by the results and reactions to it.
Make it a great day!
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