This is the first of a mini-series I plan to publish on advanced sales techniques. The subject today is what I call “buffer statements.”
I’ve visited and worked with hundreds of credit card processing companies. When I visit a processor with 200-300 reps, there are usually 1, 2, or maybe 3 who are making double, triple, or even more than all those others.
There is a top, top, top – top 1%.
Unfortunately, making a training course with steps 1-2-3 to become part of that 1% is impossible. There’s an “X” factor.
• A drive to get out and experience it.
• A dedication to become a student of sales.
That “X” factor is necessary to get to the very top. And it’s not possible to offer a concrete definition.
However, I can make you aware that this concept exists and how powerful it is. I can give you examples, but you can’t just follow my example and expect success. The process is too customized.
Learn to leverage the concept.
While I will give some examples, you must learn how to leverage the concept for yourself. Expect this to take at least 6-12 months IF you invest lots of practice. I’ve been selling almost 20 years. Leveraging this concept probably took me at least the first five years.
I’ve used the expression “buffer statements” for years. Although I try to give kudos where due, I’m sorry I can’t recall whether I coined that expression myself or found it from someone else.
Buffer statements are statements used to soften the reaction of prospects to something you’re going to say. They may be used 15-20 times in your pitch. There are three times in particular that I use them.
#1. When Gathering information
[This should go without saying that before gathering information, you must first connect with the prospect. Sales professionals going for the top have no trouble connecting with people. If you can’t connect with people, you’re probably in the wrong career field. If you’ve read some sales books and tried to connect for a few weeks without success, that doesn’t make you less valuable person. That just means you aren’t cut out for a sales career.]
The next step after connecting is gathering information. You’ll need to know what kind of point of sale system the business is using, how much processing volume they have, any issues with current provider, etc.
If you just ask for the information, you won’t get it. You could say, “I’d love to take a look at a processing statement. Do you have one I could see?” The reply would probably be, “I don’t show those to anyone.”
Justify your request.
This is a place to use a buffer statement. The buffer statement justifies the request that’s coming. Of course, you may use several approaches. Here’s one:
“Susan, thanks so much for your time today. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring the opportunity to work with you now. I’m not telling you we should definitely work together, or you should definitely sign up for our services. I would never do that until I have a really clear picture of what you have now and make sure what we have is a good fit. With that in mind, I’d love to take a quick look at a processing statement from your credit card processing company. Do you have one handy or should I pick that up when I come back on Thurs?”
Notice the buffer statement before the question. You may write that down and use it today, but it may not work for you. That buffer might work for me for a specific merchant based on their emotional reaction thus far. My examples may or may not work for you, depending on your situation.
Buffer statements are all about you reading the individual.
If I’m trying to do a one-call close, I definitely wouldn’t use the same words! You must think through your presentation and decide where to put the buffer statements.
Suppose you want to know how many years a business has been in operation. Use a buffer statement to justify why you need that information:
“Susan, one thing we’ve found is that our program is most effective for businesses that have been operating for at least a year. You’ve been in business longer than a year, right?”
Decide what information you want. Decide how you should ask for it and how to justify why you need the information.
Perhaps I’m selling Point of Sales systems for restaurants. They should bring in over $20,000 per month to need this kind of POS.
“Bill, thank you so much for taking the time to run through this with me, so I could get a better feel for your business. The next question I have for you really has to do with the scale of what’s going to work better for your business. I would never want you to make an investment in an advanced POS like I’m describing – all the work I’m going to put into it; all the work your team will spend implementing it – unless your company is processing $20,000 to $40,000 a month in credit card processing volume. I know it’s going to vary a lot, but what is your range in terms of the amount of processing volume you do per month? Is it over that threshold?”
Using that buffer versus if I said, “Bill, how much processing volume do you do in a month?”
Many of you may simply ask the question; does Bill answer you? NO! Or if he does share the information, he feels uncomfortable as if he shared something he shouldn’t have.
You should take a step back and make a buffer statement first to justify the question.
This mini-series is not a concrete teaching with steps 1,2,3. Next week I’ll talk more about buffer statements and how to use them. Then I’ll also discuss how to assume agreement – a very powerful step.
Keep an open mind and try to apply these concepts as you’re in the field or on the phone.
Try to implement buffer statements. I promise you they work, but only to the extent your skill level, talent, drive, and determination is going to succeed in experiencing, changing, and reiterating these concepts until you fully assimilate them.