Projecting Confidence When You Walk Into a Small Business
I am writing this article after a great conversation with a sales partner in Virginia. He, like many of the sales people I talk with every day, has been struggling to walk into businesses in his local market. He knows that walking into twenty businesses per day would be very successful; he also believes in […]
I am writing this article after a great conversation with a sales partner in Virginia. He, like many of the sales people I talk with every day, has been struggling to walk into businesses in his local market. He knows that walking into twenty businesses per day would be very successful; he also believes in his sales ability; but he has been using referrals and networking to generate prospecting leads and still has some fears about walking into a business. Here is my advice to him to overcome this fear.
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When you walk into a business, ask yourself, “what would the mayor do?” (WWTMD) Have you ever seen mayors or other prominent politicians at a blue ribbon ceremony? How do they act? How do others react to them? Do you ever find yourself in a room with a prominent person? You wonder who the person is when he or she walks into the room. Your interest in and respect for this stranger has nothing to do with a title; many times you have no idea who the person is. It has everything to do with the way this person acts, dresses, and carries himself with confidence.
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I recently wrote an article designed to help you walk into businesses in big cities. I would encourage you to reference that article for an alternative strategy to this one. Some of you may read this article and think, “I could never act this way!” or “I could never do as James is suggesting.” If that’s you, you’re okay. There are many strategies which work.
I have never shared this particular strategy on my blog before. I’ve been fearful less gregarious sales people would be put off by the suggestion that they act like a politician when walking into a busy business. Or perhaps the less gregarious sales people would be hesitant to try understanding body language as a way to read others and carry themselves. I am sharing these tips today because the more I get to know merchant sales professionals on our team, the more I’m convinced they could pull off this strategy the same way I do. So here’s the stratgey:
Step #1 – Look the part. The days of politicians campaigning in an expensive suit are just about over. They have learned the same thing that great sales professionals have learned: while you don’t want to fit in, you also don’t want to seem out-of-touch. Take a look at the politicians running for president when they visit a local fair grounds or do a stump speech. Then you will have a good idea of how you should dress in the field – very sharp clothes but not a suit. That you care about your appearance should be obvious but not that you need fancy clothes to define who you are. Here are some pictures of politicians in a crowd of people; see if you can identify the politician.
Step #2 – Be slightly louder and walk slightly faster than everyone around you. When you walk into a business, walk in with a purpose (see the video at the bottom of this post.) Your purpose is to make everyone in that store like you and feel better about themselves. Start with a common greeting in your area which applies to everyone (assuming there are several people in the store.) I am in Central PA, so my greeting sounds like, “Hey! How are you all doing today?” or if I get really brave, “How are y’all doing today?” Then move immediately to a subject of small talk. Here are a couple of examples:
>On a hot day: “I am just glad to be inside for a second. It must be 100 degrees out there!”
>In a restaurant: “I have driven by here a hundred times. What is your specialty?”
>An automotive business: “So, in what type of work do you specialize here?”
Step #3 – Be curious and gregarious. In order to pull off this sort of persona, you have to be genuinely curious about every business into which you walk. You must have a need to know about the business, the owner, and the story behind why they do what they do. Imagine the mayor walking in to introduce himself or herself for the first time to a local business owner who will hopefully eventually be a supporter. The mayor will get to know that owner, and so should you you.
Also, you must be outgoing and willing to talk with anyone you encounter. This persona may end up “cutting in line” rather than waiting. And if you don’t know how to make the person at the front of the line feel better about the day because you cut in front, I don’t advise that you try this method. An angry customer is not a good way to start a relationship with a business owner.
Step #4 – Explain who you are in one line and then expand your explanation. Here are a couple examples:
>The line I used in the field most often: “Most people know me as the credit card guy. I’m a local business owner. In fact, my office is up in X city. My business is credit card processing and small business services.”
>”I am a local business owner. I provide small business services. My most popular service when I start working with someone is credit card processing.”
Step #5 – Follow up with a quick question, and make sure you give them an easy-out like this:
“I have to run to another meeting in a couple minutes, and I know you are busy as well. But before I go, do you mind if I ask who you are using for credit card processing right now?”
Step #6 – Gather information. If you get a negative response, recognize that the business owner usually just wants to get rid of you. That’s okay for now. Leverage that and tell the owner how to get rid of you. Imagine if the owner answered the question above with, “I don’t know who we are using, but we are not interested in switching right now.”
“No problem, Bob, I understand completely. I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself. Since you are busy today, how about I just send you an email introduction once I get back to the office? I’m sure you wouldn’t mind that, would you?” (Now get the email and put the owner in a drip campaign.)
If the owner responds positively to your question by telling which processor is being used, respond with, “I have heard of them – good company for sure. If you are like most small business owners I know, there are two things you care about when it comes to vendor relationships. The first one is getting the best value. The second one is to support the local community if you can find a great value with a fellow local business owner. Is that how you feel?”
Response, “Yes, we always support the small business community here when we can.”
“Great! I tell you what: I know you are busy today. I just sort of ran in here on my way to another meeting. Could I shoot you an email introduction with some information about my company, as well as a cost comparison to show you our value proposition?”
Response, “Sure, my email is…”
“Thanks. The only other thing I will need is a copy of a recent credit card processing statement so I can show you how our rates compare since we use a different pricing structure than many of our larger competitors. Do you have one handy, or should I swing back by to get that later in the week?”
If you have the confidence to pull off this presentation format, it is hard to beat! I will leave you with a video called“The Secrets of Body Language” to motivate you in learning how to project yourself and interact with others in a way which exudes confidence! Learn about body language and watch your income increase! “Always Learning”