While competition within an industry can be a good thing because it drives continual improvement of products and services, certain competitors have the opposite effect. Instead of fostering higher standards, bad apples in payments, for instance, maintain the lowest standards possible, causing the entire industry to take a hit in merchants' eyes. And when that happens, merchants are likely to brush off honest, enterprising merchant level salespeople before they've even had a chance to say hello.
In Good SellingSM: The Basics, Paul H. Green asked what you would do when met with the following responses from merchants:
Green further asked, in the face of such objections, "How do you differentiate your service when your prospect has a preconceived notion of what your service is and does? How do you separate your company from those that offer similar products, especially to merchants who have used other services previously?"
One helpful thing is to remember that merchants tend to be ill informed when it comes to the payments industry. They are more informed than they were in the days before the Internet opened a new world of information and competitive offers from payment service providers. They also have more tools at their disposal than in the days before technology advanced far beyond simple countertop payment terminals. They obviously know more than the public at large, as well.
However, due partly to the complexity of payments, as well as the under-the-radar status the industry enjoyed for decades, merchants generally don't care to distinguish one payment company from another. They lump most of us together.
It's time to do a better job of branding, as leaders in other industries do. "For example, all car companies manufacture cars, but that doesn't mean all cars are the same," Green wrote. "Many companies offer phone service, but consumers definitely have their favorites."
It helps to dig deep for insights about what truly makes your company and its culture unique. Think about what combination of facts, dreams and passions drive your business to stand out. Think about how to convey that in a way that will spark the imagination and stir the emotions of your merchant customers and prospects.
Think of the loyalty of diehard Apple fans, the swath of small merchants who love their Square dongles, the enthusiasm of Ford F-150 owners, the Mary Kay cosmetics customers who thrill at the introduction of a new lipstick shade. What if your business could enjoy that type of loyalty from your customers?
Competitors would have to struggle uphill to encroach on your territory, bad apples would be more easily differentiated and shunned, and your business and spirits would soar, knowing your customers smile at the very thought of your name.
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