If you are like most ISOs you contact hundreds or maybe even thousands of small business owners each month trying to help them with their funding needs. It’s a numbers game, reach out to enough merchants from a high quality list and you’re bound to hit a few winners because the odds are some of them need capital for their business. But what if I told you that…
You’re Playing the Wrong Game
The numbers game is random and requires a ton of work. You may have a list of 10,000 small business owners to call and you know that somewhere in that list there are 100 or so that will need a merchant cash advance. So you start dialing.
“Need a merchant cash advance? No? Okay.” Click. Dial another number.
Obviously, your call script is much more sophisticated than that and you are likely calling on small business owners who you know are probably in the need for an MCA. But the point is, the dialing for dollars as the only mechanism to bring in business is too haphazard. Worse yet, it almost always leaves money on the table.
Remember the Game Memory?
The children’s game memory is a great illustrator of what I’m talking about. The game is simple. You have dozens of cards laid out in rows on the table and your job is to find matches by flipping the cards over. You only get one shot to match the first card you’ve flipped over by flipping over one of the other cards on the table. If you fail to match the card you must flip them both over and your opponent gets to take his turn.
As the game goes on, you become much more likely to find matches. First, success or failure has taken some prospective matches off the board. But more importantly, you and the other player start to remember where the matches are hidden because you’ve seen them before. You are familiar with your target matches and therefore you become much more efficient in your hunt.
Why Not Treat Your List of Prospects Like a Game of Memory?
Instead of flipping prospects over at random and then moving onto the next as fast as possible why not take a moment to ensure you both remember each other?
“But Mike, I don’t have time to chit chat…I’ve got calls to make.”
I get it, sales for most ISOs is a fast paced game. But what if six months from now a business owner you called today needs a merchant cash advance? Will they remember your company’s name or your name? Will they remember anything special about you that would make them want to call you over just doing a random Google search “raising cash for a small business”?
Or when you call them again next month will you remember anything special about them as a person and their small business? Did you build enough rapport so that your next call will be met with a friendly voice that is more willing to explore your offerings as an ISO? In short, are you building a brand for yourself and your firm?
Think of all the purchases you have made for yourself and your business over the past month. How many of those purchases were for products or services in which you had no familiarity with the product, service, or the person/company that sold it to you? Probably very few if any.
This preference for familiarity is hardwired into us as humans. The fact that you know that your prospects are much more likely to do business with someone whom they are familiar gives you a competitive edge over other ISOs.
There should be no chance that a competitive ISO could land the business of someone on your list if you’ve been contacting that business owner regularly. You and your firm should be alone at the top of that merchant’s list of “Who to call when I need capital for my business.”
How to Build Familiarity
Familiarity comes from more than just frequency of outreach. You can cold call a small business owner dozens of times and he still might not remember your name. At some point you will need to make a connection and create memory.
Ideally, you’ll want to create a shared memory. Something that makes the prospect feel like he knows you and feels comfortable talking to you.
Now all this may sound a little like fluffy stuff but it’s not. This very concept of branding and creating familiarity is why you can walk down the soda aisle in a grocery store and go straight for Coke or Pepsi but not even give a millisecond of consideration to the myriad of other cola choices on the shelves.
And while Coke and Pepsi have spent over 100 years and billions of dollars to create that familiarity you can do the same with your prospects with just a little bit of effort.
Below a few quick recommended steps that are sure to pay dividends.
Be Genuinely Interested – There’s an old saying that goes something like “If you want people to find you interesting be interested in them.” Small business owners get sales calls all the time. You’re probably the fifth one to call him today! Stand out from the others and show some genuine interest in him as a person and project an earnest desire to help him when the time is right.
Take Special Notes of the Meaningful Things – There are two drivers of human behavior, the need to avoid pain and the desire to seek out joy and pleasure. Most sales professionals go straight for the pain and never stop to explore what brings the prospect joy. What lights him up? If you want someone to be excited to talk to you find a way to get him talking about his joy. When you get a prospect on the line for the first time see if you can discover whether he has kids, grandkids, a dog or a cat, or what he likes to do in his spare time. Make a note of it and the general details of your conversation in your CRM. The next time you call or email, be sure to bring up the memory of your first talk and then expand on it a bit.
Connect on Social Media – Whenever possible connect with your prospects via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Nothing builds familiarity faster than seeing someone in your stream on a regular basis and as a bonus you get to see trigger moments that may indicate when you should follow up with your next call.
Develop a Tagline and Use It – If you wanted a small business owner to remember one thing about you and that thing had to be a single sentence what would it be? When I review the websites of ISOs I see a vast expanse of sameness. They all promise approval within 24 hours, that it’s okay if you have poor credit, they fund all types of businesses and yadda, yadda, yadda. All that stuff is important and it’s smart to have it there. But…none if it matters if the prospect doesn’t remember to come to that website or call your 800 number. This is why you need a memorable tagline. Something like “Remember, if you need cash in less than a week call Mike”Every time you talk to a business owner on the phone, in person, or via email refresh their memory by repeating the tagline.
Stop Leaving Money on the Table
I mentioned earlier that the traditional numbers game left money on the table. Why? Because it relies on the timing of your call to the small business owner being perfect. You have to call at the exact moment when he needs an influx of capital and it also has to be the right time for him to talk to you about solving that need.
If perfect timing is required for your success you are leaving money on the table in the form of all the business owners who needed money six months after you called but they couldn’t remember your name, your business’s name, or anything about you. Those prospects are gone. But they don’t have to be.
Spend some extra time and effort to become memorable to the small business owners on your list. You’ll be happy you did.