CHICAGO – Speaking at a trade show here this week, a veteran sales trainer described the selling process as four steps: Connect, ask, suggest and move.

That analysis came from Mark Dunn, president of Field Guide Enterprises, during the Field Guide Seminar at the Midwest Acquirers Association 11th Annual Conference.

Whether connecting online or in person, salespeople should introduce themselves and ask for the prospect’s attention, Dunn suggests. When hiring, executives should seek salespeople who are engaging and get along well with people. In other words, good job candidates “connect,” he says.

By “ask,” Dunn means learning about a client’s needs by inquiring about what hasn’t worked and why it hasn’t worked. Gather information instead of telling the client what’s needed, he suggests. Visiting the potential client’s store before the sales call enables the salesperson to ask “high-value questions” that defy a yes-or-no response, he advises.

A salesperson who has gathered enough information can move on to the “suggest” stage by proposing ways for a merchant to gain value or lower costs, Dunn says. Merchants are pressed for time and can’t focus on those issues, he says. Instead, merchants can “offload” those functions to the salesperson.

The “suggest” phase can center on data and will become even more important in the future, Dunn says. It’s where merchants want to see that they’re getting more than a dollar’s worth of value for every dollar they spend, he adds.

“Move” refers to urging prospects to take steps to improve their businesses. Salespeople can remove barriers to action and make now the time to act, Dunn says. The step includes perfect paperwork and a precise transition that lets the customer know when the new point-of-sale system will be in place and when training will occur, he notes.

“Move” also calls upon salespeople to “anticipate, adapt, improvise and overcome,” Dunn says.

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