By Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services
There are about 251 working days in a year. If you were able to have one extra conversation a day, 251 more conversations annually, could you close more deals? Efficiency is the key to separating yourself from the competition. Sales agents across the globe have become more efficient, organized and productive by utilizing modern technological advancements.
If technology were harnessed properly, even the most mediocre agent of today's era could outperform some of the best agents of yesteryear.
You don't see anyone cold calling through the telegram nowadays. It's been quite some time since folks took a horse and carriage to meet a prospect. Airplanes, emails, and conference calls are fast and efficient, buying salespeople more time for productive activities. Notepads and day planners are the telegraphs of yesterday. Today's customer relationship management (CRM) tools have done for day planners what email has done for telegrams.
Like most sales agents, we started soliciting with a pen and paper. The process was effective enough in the absence of other options but came with significant shortcomings. Notes would disappear, to later resurface crumpled, between the couch cushions. The necessity of physically transporting documents everywhere we went and the fragility of paper forced us to search for better alternatives. Luckily, technology had advanced significantly and we were eventually able to put that horse to pasture.
We each had mentors at the time who advised us to keep track of all leads and accounts through spreadsheets. The adage states that "old habits die hard" and, like most people, we were pretty stuck in our ways so we had to take a hard look at this new form of lead management. The concept of writing on digital paper was foreign to us, but we had to ask the fundamental question: Will this bring us more deals? The answer was a resounding yes. Armed with new devices, we jumped light-years ahead. We no longer had to frantically search for the lost phone numbers of warm leads. Tools like "conditional formatting" and "sorting" helped the lead management process move much more efficiently.
Updating spreadsheets on our PalmPilots was great. We could copy and paste leads right into our calendars to ensure we never missed a follow-up. The process of note-taking took much less time and allowed us to focus on moving deals forward. Basic digital entry was a big step up, but we would soon learn an escalator was right around the corner.
As spreadsheets and smartphones became mainstream tools, they became more automated and feature rich, shifting the sales cycle into overdrive. These products became extensions of a deeper technology that tied all of the devices together. The coordination of lead management finally had a hub. The sales based CRM was the new brainchild of efficiency. Where we once had to drive, we now could fly. A quick Google search will provide a host of options – both free, such as Insightly or FreeCRM, or pay-based, such as SalesForce. We first researched all the features available to us in order to discover which option created efficiency but was also applicable to our industry and sales cycle. Technology is only an asset when wielded correctly.
So how did we research CRM? We needed a tool that would enable us to better organize our leads, keep track of important dates and organize documents for quick reference. In our office, agents often collaborate on certain prospects. Choosing a CRM that would allow us to update each other on our progress or share information gathered was going to be extremely useful.
We eventually settled on software specifically designed for the merchant services industry, so it provided the important basic features plus other direct industry benefits, such as transaction tracking, to help us support our clients. Whichever CRM option you choose, the efficiency, reliability and coordination provided by a good one will unquestionably help expand your merchant portfolio.
When considering your options, ask yourself the following: If I could have 251 more conversations this year, would I close more deals? If I could be reminded one month before the termination date that Café Remy's existing contract would soon expire, would it help me close more deals? If I could easily access or share documents from any device with Internet access, would it help me save time? And never forget the fundamental question: Will this help me close more deals?
Tom Waters has been dedicated to the merchant service sales profession since 2001. Currently, he is responsible for cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs in information technology, accounting, sales and marketing in his role as Sales Director of Bank Associates Merchant Services (www.bams.com). Using fresh and matter-of-fact training methods, Tom has contributed to the success of thousands of agents, affiliates and clients. He can be reached via email through email@example.com or via phone at 347-651-1065.
Ben Abel is Regional Director at Bank Associates Merchant Services. Since joining the team in 2006, he has risen through company ranks with a paradigm that his success is measured by the success of those around him. Ben is a dedicated, pioneering trainer whose methods of merchant services consultation have helped many agents expand their portfolios in terms of processing volume, deal count and profitability. He can be contacted at 347-866-9571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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