By Sean Berg, Shift4 Payments
For many years, resellers have competed by finding holes in the sales strategies of their competition. Whether selling payment processing, POS systems, cloud technology, security solutions, or business consulting services, demonstrating your product’s advantages was, and still is, a winning strategy.
This approach has been quite successful for VARs, especially when combined with knowing their products, educating business owners, and providing added value. The average sales agent today truly embodies being an expert in their field. This approach can continue to be effective as the payments, point of sale, cloud technology, and business solution industries converge into today’s collective business technology industry.
However, with recent mergers and acquisitions, plus advances in technology, the industry continues to evolve into a more competitive space. With these changes, how can you take your sales to the next level?
Why does selling your product backfire?
It has become common for each technology provider and reseller to market the features that make them most proud. But this approach is losing effectiveness as development teams have grown more agile and knowledgeable throughout the years. Any product advantages in this industry are quickly diminished as competitors provide product updates within months —and many times — in weeks.
Today, you may offer groundbreaking new features, but tomorrow your competitors may upgrade. After your competitor has added these new features and more, your product and your knowledge become "outdated."
Each day you spend trying to prove your product is better than the competition is time spent reducing your own credibility.
How can you compete?
#1: Leave your competitor out of the conversation.
The superiority you claim for your product today may become a competitor’s selling point after an update. Business technology does not sit still long enough for your comparison to maintain its impact through the sales cycle. If all of your competitors can offer the same product features as you, and the same range of services, recognize the need to be different in another way.
#2: Listen to your customer.
What are they struggling with? Why did they offer you the opportunity to discuss their needs? What ways do they envision business technology solving their concerns?
The customer is not asking for your product, or anyone else’s, by name. This is because the customer wants to solve THEIR needs, which may include:
Find out what your customer needs. Ask questions and take the time to really listen.
#3: Focus on YOUR value. Yes, YOU can be the differentiator.
Resellers are professionals equally as much as developers, architects, artists, or athletes. Understanding your product, teaching your customers, and honing your style are all skills that can be improved. In a world where your product has become indistinguishable from your competitor’s, it becomes more important to focus on the value you can provide.
Instead of selling against your competitor, focus inward. Ask yourself what you can do for your customer. How can you meet your customers’ needs? Your value becomes how well you can take care of the customer.
Are you taking full advantage of what your selling style has to offer?
There are no right or wrong selling styles with regard to taking care of the customer. Capitalize on your style and demonstrate your value to the customer. Every sales style can be improved to provide additional value to the customer.
Let’s consider three common selling models. Each of these can be highly effective in the business technology industry.
Onsite / Door to door sales
Resellers who meet customers in person are able to build the greatest rapport. Take advantage of bringing demonstration equipment. Let the customer use it, maybe even leave the equipment at the location. The customer should feel the effect of having someone local who can provide a custom experience no one else can deliver.
The installation is the time of greatest anxiety for a business owner and the time when an on-site reseller can shine the most. Be present even if you are not installing the equipment yourself. Show the business owner and their staff a few features while the equipment is installed to reduce some of the anxiety. Once everything is situated, make them dive deep while you observe, to let them envision how this will impact their day to day operation. Then, be the hero who makes it all click and have them comfortably humming along on their own.
Telesales / Remote sales
Use the minimal effort it takes to make a phone call to your advantage. While an on-site reseller can build incredible rapport, a remote reseller can check in more frequently. Check in regularly with the technician installing the equipment. Check in regularly with the customer. Make sure you are readily available for a call during the installation and the days following. Follow up immediately after installation and again later that night, to ensure they are happy with the system.
Prepare as many resources as possible for use during your calls. For example, have documentation, how-to videos, or online links easily accessible that you can quickly reference during your phone call and/or send to the customer as follow-up. You have time available to research answers that an on-site reseller does not have at their disposal. Follow up a week later, a month later, and every three to six months after to ensure you have a happy lifetime customer. Phone selling provides a freedom that allows for regular check-ins that are unavailable to a reseller who is expected to resolve issues on-site.
Web sales / Internet marketing
Many resellers offer their products or services entirely online. In some cases, they may accomplish this without ever speaking to a customer. To some this may sound impossible, especially when thinking about providing service. However, if this style makes sense to you, focus on providing as much value as you can. For web sales, offer how-to videos for as many features as you can. Design your website to guide the customer to a chat service with a technician. Send an email tip each day to help the customer learn something new about the system each day. Provide self-help instructions to empower the customers.
The value of your product has lost the impact it once had. This is true for every provider and reseller of business technology today. The service provided by the reseller, the true business technology expert, makes all the difference. You are now in the spotlight and no matter your style, you have the ability to succeed.
Think about why this customer is offering you the opportunity to discuss your products and services. Ask yourself what your customer is truly seeking. True value comes from understanding the products you offer, your target customers, and yourself.
About The Author
Sean Berg has spent the last decade seeking knowledge from highly successful industry experts and sharing this understanding for community betterment. His technology career began as a networking and software consultant for businesses prior to joining Harbortouch (2010). In Harbortouch's early years, Mr. Berg managed the support and operations teams. These positions provided perspective into the technical challenges business owners face. However, these roles did not offer an outlet for understanding the industry's sales community. Sensing this disconnect, Mr. Berg sought feedback from several sales offices on how to better optimize their experience. He found a community that was hungry to learn and happy to reciprocate with their knowledge and experience. Over the years, this led to his current role as Shift4 Payments' Director of Education where he is able to share his experiences with thousands of sales partners, technicians, and staff.
Shift4 Payments is the leader in secure payment processing solutions, powering the top point-of-sale and software providers across numerous verticals including Food & Beverage, Hospitality, Lodging, Gaming, Retail and e-Commerce. This includes the company’s Harbortouch, Restaurant Manager, POSitouch, and Future POS brands as well as over 300 additional software integrations in virtually every industry. With eight offices across the US and Europe, 7,000 sales partners and three state-of-the-art data centers, the company securely processes over 1 billion transactions annually for nearly 200,000 businesses, representing over $100 billion in payments each year. For additional information, visit www.shift4.com.