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The Shortest Distance Between Two Points is a Straight Line

Having spent my formidable years growing up in Ireland, I became used to the winding roads scattered throughout the country. If you have ever been there, you know what I mean. It can be a little scary at night driving in the countryside on narrow windy roads. History tells us they are this way as they were born from walking paths through fields that eventually, over time, became roads. The roads, like the Irish people themselves, are not very direct. Don’t ever ask an Irishman for directions, lol, as it will take them an hour and three stories before you get what you need, if you ever get what you need. Additionally, when it comes to one’s appearance, no matter how you look, you would never be insulted in Ireland, as you will generally be told you look, as they say, “Grand”.

When I came to the U.S., what struck me in contrast was often the size and straightness of the roads and interstates. Granted, there is way more space here, but these Interstates were constructed in large part with the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, with a very methodical numbering system and direct paths from city to city. They were made more from bulldozers than people walking along paths. In some parts of the country, the highways seem to go on forever, straight as an arrow. Likewise, I found the new prospects I would sell to were straight, direct, and to the point. If an American tells you in a social setting that they do not want a drink, the host usually relents. In Ireland, the host would spend half an hour asking the guest, and then the guest would relent, as they wanted the drink in the first place. It is a longer story for another time.

As my sales career began and blossomed, I had to adapt quickly to selling in this new culture. There would be no more pub sales pitches ending in a handshake and a beer. As I have said before, selling is more art than science, but art does not mean you have to be all over the place in your sales process, as we know some creative minds can be. Selling is about knowing your product first, then the product, of who you might be selling against, and then the market and the prospect you might be selling to. I would uncover a genuine need for my product, and if the terms were agreeable, I would make a sale more often than not. Different prospects buy differently, but over time, I became more confident in my approach and pitch, and the sales process tended to slow down in my favor. I found myself cheating a little, anticipating the objection before it became an objection, by clues I would receive in the discovery phase of the sale. I started to add little anecdotes and stories to bring full life into the sales pitch. The sales line was beginning to straighten out.

As a Sales leader, I would often be asked by people who worked with me for advice on gaining access to a decision-maker. Granted, the product I sold was relevant to most businesses I called on, so I would tell sales colleagues to start at the top of the organization. Sometimes, I could see the reluctance on their faces, fearing calling or communicating with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), President, or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of an organization. I liked the top-down approach and found much success with it over the years. It made me sharper and on point. Business owners and senior people in organizations usually have the pulse of the business. More importantly, these people can make decisions or defer you with authority to another person. This can be just as valuable to a salesperson. When speaking to a decision-maker, it is important to communicate clearly and succinctly. They are wondering, in that 30 seconds, why they should be talking to you. You must have that answer. Usually, it is a relevant fact that they did not know and a reason for their business to want to explore that further. It is your job to make them curious. This could be achieved by providing information about a million different things relevant to your product, marketplace, and competition. Whatever it is, you must be prepared.

In the end, preparedness is essential. Going half-baked into sales situations only serves to put you on that windy road. More time will be spent navigating the perils you will face here. Instead, get on the Interstate of sales. There, you can set the cruise control on accomplishment and sell for miles on the straight road ahead. If you can do this, you will find, for sure, that the shortest distance between two points is indeed a straight line.

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include: Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and the associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at roger@guide2interchange.com.

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