Close your eyes and picture the stereotypical POS reseller. I’m guessing you were imagining someone in his 50s or 60s, maybe even older. If that’s what you were thinking (be honest – I bet you even pictured them with thinning gray hair), you would have had an eye-opening experience at LavuCon 2016, the annual partner conference for iPad POS vendor Lavu.
Of the approximately 60 resellers who attended the Oct. 6-8 event, I would estimate half were in their 30s and a few were in their 20s. Everyone had a full head of hair except the two guys who were bald on purpose. The emergence of vendors like Lavu has attracted a younger, Apple-focused generation to our channel.
This message one speaker preached at the conference needs to reverberate throughout our entire industry: “Things change. Resist it, fight it, hate it, ignore it, deal with it, embrace it. But you will not stop it. If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate extinction.”
I was honored to be one of two featured speakers at the conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort near Albuquerque, NM, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to be a listener as well. Here’s a quick look at some of my lessons learned at LavuCon 2016:
- Robert Stevenson, who has traveled the globe as a speaker and business consultant, offered the morning keynote, but it was his breakout session titled “How To Close The Sale” that really caught my attention. Nearly every solution provider I’ve talked with in my role as a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv feels they have plenty of room to improve upon their sales techniques. Stevenson detailed four actions I think would be helpful to resellers who are struggling with sales execution:
- Memorize your company story, your personal story, and all your product and services information. “You don’t want a canned presentation,” Stevenson said, “but you need to know the presentation. Be prepared in every aspect of what you do.”
- Write a list of the top 20 most common objections that come up during a sales presentation. Talk with your top salespeople, your vendors, and other resellers and script a great response to each objection. Then memorize all 20 responses. “Don’t argue with the prospect. Respond to the objection instead by saying, ‘I’m glad you brought that up. I’d be concerned about that, too,’” Stevenson said. “After addressing the objection, you need to then get them to agree. This is the crux of sales.”
- Always be prospecting. “On your way home each day, make it a point to visit two prospects along the way to just to stop by – not to sell, just to see how things are going. Sometimes they will have a need, and you will be there to take care of them.”
- Write a list of thought-provoking questions you will ask to prospects. “Smart questions make you look smart,” Stevenson said. “Prepare before you present.”
- I received several follow-up questions and comments after my general session presentation “Surefire Growth Strategies For POS Resellers.” I’ve learned from leading POS resellers and from my own business management experience that the four keys to VAR growth are increasing your sales force, adding new products and services (especially focusing on services that provide you with recurring revenue), entering new markets (either an adjoining vertical or a new geography), and marketing aggressively. At some point during the next five business days, pause from your day-to-day activities to think about what actions you can take to improve in each of these areas.
- A public service announcement to all vendors who host partner conferences: resellers are hungry for business education; they abhor when you hypnotize them with a series of PowerPoint presentations filled with statistics, feeds, speeds, and hyperbole. Your resellers are getting … very … sleepy because they checked out mentally right around slide 7. The resellers I sat with at the LavuCon closing dinner were very complimentary of Lavu’s efforts to dedicate the entire final day of the conference to executive-level education on topics VARs care about.
- About two dozen resellers (and little old me) attended a breakout session on financing as-a-Service deals, and while only a few were currently selling this way, every reseller in the room was open to the SaaS model. Nobody was saying “this won’t work.” The biggest debate was on the topic of initial quoting. Do you lead with the monthly price? The cash price? Or do you show the prospect both pricing structures u front
- In addition to recurring revenue, two other hot topics among Lavu resellers were determining appropriate sales compensation models and engraining effective customer service communication techniques in their staff. Vantiv PaymentsEdge Advisory Services has already assembled a training program on reseller customer service (connect with me if you’re interested), and I’m thinking we should also go to work on a guideline document listing sales comp models resellers could consider.
- A reseller told me that one of his keys to success is asking to present at industry conferences whenever he can. He said it leads to other resellers reaching out to him to ask questions, share their perspective, and offer a partnership opportunity. “Be open – don’t hide what you’ve done,” the reseller said. “You’ll get some revenue-sharing opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
- The conference concluded with Lavu president Ohad Jehassi announcing the winners of the Lavu Reseller Awards for 2016. Top Hardware Reseller: Buckeye POS (Michael Riches), Top Domestic Reseller: POS Revolt (Joe Costanzo), Top International Reseller: Soft Lavu (Bank Thanapon), Rising Star: Inland Northwest Merchant Advocate (Robert Jibby), and Most Innovative: Pineapple Technologies (Rafi Turgman) and Crunch IT (Mathias Mai mann).
- Personal note: This was my first venture to the Southwest US, and I was awestruck by the scenery. I drove to LavuCon from the Vantiv office in Durango, CO, so I had over three hours to take in the many hills, rock formations, and mountains. And at the Tamaya Resort, this was the view each time I opened my hotel room front door. For a guy who’s lived in the Midwest his entire life, New Mexico was a spectacular treat.