Shawn Dalton is Director of Sales for First American’s Strategic Partnership Group. He’s been in the payments industry for more than 20 years, overseeing areas of business development, sales, training and recruiting for ISOs, ISVs, agents and referral partners. Below, Shawn shares his thoughts on sales techniques that provide the greatest value to customers.
Has the art of selling changed over the years? How have you adapted?
Yes and no. There is certainly more noise to cut through regarding access to information and buyers are becoming more and more educated about emerging technology. But at the end of the day, our job is still problem-solving.
Regardless of whether we’re selling partnerships or selling directly to a merchant, the key to building any business relationship is understanding your customer’s needs and creating the right solution. This is especially true when working with ISOs.
It’s imperative that you take the time to get to know the partner — who they are, how they go to market, how their current payments processor supports (or doesn’t support) them, and what their goals are — versus trying to force-fit the product du jour into their business model. The goal is to identify the partner’s needs and to help them achieve their business objective, whether the solution requires product, technology, service, marketing or a combination.
How do you distinguish between the perceived and actual needs of a partner?
We’re all guilty of being attracted to the “new and improved” gadget; we naturally say, we want this, or we need that. It’s our job as good business partners to determine if, and how, that new gadget will help our partner’s business.
The answer varies from partner to partner, but it’s the commitment to taking that extra step to understand their value proposition and the proper alignment of solutions that makes the difference. Asking questions such as, “Does this product really address a need that the partner has?” and “Can the value of the product be leveraged to benefit their merchants?” If the answer is yes, then it’s time to collaborate with the partner to determine ways to best use that shiny new “toy.”
You’ve said that business owners are like parents. What does that mean?
Parents love to talk about their kids; business owners love to talk about their businesses. Just like the information you learn about someone’s family — their son plays the cello; their daughter’s soccer team is headed to post-season play — the more you engage a business owner to talk about their business, the more you’ll understand their goals, and the better able you’ll be to find a solution to fit their needs. Don’t be so intent on reciting a sales pitch that you fail to take time to listen.
What’s often the biggest challenge to overcome?
Change of any kind is difficult; changing processes that affect your financial livelihood can be scary. My goal is to ensure minimal disruption to their current operations.
When you understand the partner’s business model—how they do business and what they want to achieve—you are able to create the best solution for them and ensure a smooth transition.
First American has been described as “big enough to compete, but small enough to care.” How do you translate that to sales?
The fact that we own our own technologies, including our own settlement platform, our own gateways and proprietary business management tools, gives us both the ability and the flexibility to compete with much larger companies. Where First American continues to set itself apart is providing customizable solutions for unique asks. When a partner comes to us with a goal, we know who they are, what their business model is, and we immediately ask, “how can we help you get there?”
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone new to sales?
It’s all about building the relationship. Partners know they are doing business with First American, but they are trusting me to deliver.
To learn more about how First American can help you grow your ISO business, contact us today.