Take a mental picture of a few small business clients with whom you work and ask yourself truthfully, “Will this Small Business Client Exist in 10 years?” In this article I am going to share with you my greatest fear as an independent agent selling small business owners and I promise you will be surprised.
There has been a lot of talk in the media about mobile payments and how this new technology is a major enemy of independent agents like us. The rational is that soon everyone will be paying through their mobile phone and then we will not be needed anymore. While this is a concern and something I have studied extensively, it doesn’t really scare me. Let me explain why.
No matter how the mobile payments are adopted, what apps or technology are used, someone is still going to have to convince small business owners to accept these payments. As long as there are small, physical location businesses out there, our merchant services businesses are secure as long as we are willing to adjust and change our approach and our offers. The great thing is that most of these mobile payment options currently run through the Visa or Mastercard networks anyway and it isn’t a very big leap for us to learn this new technology. The other interesting point here is how slowly consumers are actually adopting mobile payment technology.
How many people have you actually seen using their phone to pay their bill? I have yet to see one person and in the last 6 months and I have been in Chicago, Montreal Canada, Pittsburgh and dozens of other cities. I know they are out there and I know this technology is growing, but it is growing slowly. What scares me is something much bigger.
I am afraid that small, individually owned, physical location businesses will not adopt new technology. While waiting in line to purchase a bagel this morning, I spotted about 50% of all the consumers in line and at tables using their mobile devices and I bet 90% of them were on a social network like facebook or they were publishing a tweet about the food they were eating or they were checking in on FourSquare.
The scary thing is that out of all the local clients I have, I don’t know of one who has implemented an effective social media strategy to engage with these customers. Walmart, Target, Applebees and even small franchise businesses are all getting on board with this new technology and my goal with CCSalespro is to encourage our small business clients to do the same. The consumer behavior isnot yet widespread other than in the big cities, but 10 years from now, you will hard pressed to find a consumer that is not actively engaging in just about all of the behaviors and if we cannot convince our small business clients to implement this new technology, our market will dry up as more tech savvy firms slowly and deliberately put these small businesses out of business.
Here is the good news! This is a great time to be developing relationships with small business owners!!! They know that these changes are coming, they want to be ready, but they just need some help from you and from CCSalsespro. We are not going to offer everything they need right now because honestly, most small businesses are not ready to implement a system like the one. They need to start by establishing an interactive website that updates their email list and social media profiles automatically and they need a POS System that can create a foundation of technology systems that are ready for change. I invite you to join me as we strive to do three things for our clients.
#1 – Save Money. If we are going to help small business owners, we must start by gaining their trust and what better way to start your relationship with a small business owner than saving them money every single month and showing them that you deliver on your promises. If you sell and run, you are missing a huge opportunity to make a lot more money in the future. Stay connected, become friends with your clients and build relationships on which you can expand in the future to fill bigger needs than just cost savings.
#2 – Upgrade Systems. Once you have earned their trust and interested them in saving money, ask them if they believe having more information about their business such as customer activity, inventory tracking, which items are selling, which customers are buying which items and much more would benefit their ability to make decisions. Obviously the more information they have, the better. So, talk to them about using a Point of Sale System to gain this information and ask them, “What are some things you would like to see in a Point of Sale System?” I love the question, “What would like your system to do?” Many times they have been to Walmart or Target or another large chain business and seen their systems do things that they think, “I wish my business had a system that did that, but I’m sure we could never afford it.” These are the types of things we can do for them, they just don’t realize it! If they don’t know, offer up some things you already know we can do and see what they think. *Would you like your system to integrate with quickbooks to make your accounting easier? *Would you like your system to integrate with Payroll so your employees could clock in and clock out on the screen and then have all the payroll, W9’s and tax fillings done automatically? *Would you like your system to be able to capture email address and / or phone numbers of customers and then send them coupons and special offers based on their activity? (this is something the basic version of NCR Silver does!) *Would you like to track which items in your store are selling at which times of the day and week and then give you reports about purchasing patterns?
#3 – Grow the Business. Once you have earned their trust and helped them understand the importance of using a great system at their place of business, ask them about their online presence. I love asking these questions: “So, what are you guys doing for marketing to the local community?” They usually respond with “I use the yellow pages” or “Billboards” or “Newspaper Ads” or “I have a website” and then I respond with: “Do you think that over the next 5 years, your online presence meaning your website, your engagement with social media and your ability to come up on search engines will be more or less important than it is today?” Every single business owner is going to say, “More Important” and then I respond: “What are doing to prepare for this increased focus on your companies online presence?” This is a great way to start a conversation about web design and web presence. I want CCSalespro to be at the cutting edge of solutions to our merchants. Right now, unfortunately, the cutting edge is having a website that is updated regularly and that is integrated with email marketing and social media and having a POS System on site that provides a foundation for new technology today and beyond.
Get your customers positioned to take advantage of all the new technology coming out and then you will be in a position to make a huge impact on your community and on your companies profits and beyond as small business owners look to you to help them compete.