Spring Training for Your ISO Sales Skills

My favorite time of year is officially here – spring. Even though the calendar said otherwise until just a few days ago, to me it’s been spring since the middle of February. That’s when Major League Baseball players reported for spring training and their first workouts of the season.

Spring training is a time when players work to improve specific skills. Pitchers may work on different pitches, while hitters work on swing adjustments. Others work on fielding and base running. The ultimate goal is to improve year over year, and become a bigger asset to their team.

As many of you know, I coached baseball for 36 years and was blessed to work with many talented players. For every player that was naturally gifted, there were 15 that had to work hard for success. We too had spring training, and worked on improving their skill set.

However, the key to success wasn’t the same as what you see in Arizona and Florida today. For these ballplayers, the key was to amplify what they did well and work on those areas where they needed to improve, but our main focus was on what they did best.

Baseball is a game of failure. Even the best hitter fails seven out of 10 times. It can be very frustrating for a player to be expected to do something they don’t do well. It was my task to put players in positions that best matched their skills.

For example, if a player was skilled at fielding groundballs but lacked a strong arm, I would put them at second base, not short stop. They enjoyed the game more and failed less. The result made them want to work harder in practice so they could ultimately do more.

Selling credit card processing is a lot like baseball. Failure is common. No matter how well you do, you will most likely fail more than you succeed. Unlike baseball, there is no offseason that allows you to work on your skills. The training and game approach I used while coaching works quite well in the payments world, which is why I would like to share these three ISO sales skills to help you improve your game.

1. Identify and amplify what you do well.

The challenge most people face is saying what they do well. We all possess a unique skillset. Some of us are great communicators. Others are great listeners and know how to empathize. Many understand and can speak the language of particular types of merchants.

The simplest way to identify a skill is to ask yourself what you are most confident doing. In almost all cases this will be your primary skill as ability leads to confidence.

Once you identify your strengths, make a concerted effort to put yourself in a position to use your ISO sales skills more often. For example, if you understand and can speak the language of the auto parts and repair industry, this is an ideal market for your credit card processing services.

If you are a great listener, ask more open-ended questions and encourage your prospects to continue speaking as you gain information.

2. Work on and improve your weaker ISO sales skills.

After identifying what you do well, it’s easy to identify those areas where practice would be helpful. And like baseball players, you too can practice outside of the game, or in this case, a sale.

When you’re selling credit card processing, how are your closing skills? If there’s room for improvement, try adding some additional closing statements to your repertoire. For example, you could say, “So, what is our next step?”, “It sounds like we have a reason to continue talking. Do you agree?”, or, “I feel I can help you.”

If you want to sell to a new market segment, spend a few hours researching the industry, reading articles in trade publications, and pay close attention to the key words, terms, and acronyms for that industry. (Remember, you don’t need to be a subject matter expert, you just need to understand what they see as their challenges.)

Instead of using prime sales time when you should be out talking to merchants, you should use non-sales time for these activities. Once you boost your confidence you can then begin incorporating these skills into your sales efforts.

3. Know when to avoid using your weaker skills.

Avoiding your weaker ISO sales skills may sound counterintuitive. If you never use them how will you grow? Well, let me explain. It’s a skill to be able to talk with smaller businesses about their credit card processing services. They require as unique a skillset as larger merchants. That skillset doesn’t always translate to success with larger merchants, so if your skillset is geared toward smaller merchants, don’t chase whales.

Just remember, position yourself to use your talents and skills and you will boost your chances of success. Also, don’t forget the importance of spring training so you can be sure to always bring your “A” game.

About Author

Jeff Fortney

Jeff Fortney

VP, ISO Channel Management

Jeff Fortney has 25 years of experience in payments, with a focus on helping ISOs and agents grow their portfolio. His experience encompasses all forms of payments. He has served on various industry committees and boards and is also an author in various trade publications. He and his wife of 40 years live in Plano, TX.

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