The security code on credit cards suffers from a severe case of ‘mistaken identity’. Most business owners are under the impression that by entering the security code along with the credit card numbers they will get a lower rate on their processing costs. Wrong.

Let’s get educated.

Q: What is the CVV Number?
A: The CVV Number (“Card Verification Value”) on the back of your credit card or debit card is a 3 digit number on VISA®, MasterCard® and Discover® branded credit and debit cards. On your American Express® branded credit or debit card it is a 4 digit numeric code located on the front of the card. Ok, this we all knew…

Q: What is the purpose of the CVV Number?
A: When processing a credit card transaction in a non swiped manner (phone or online), asking the customer for the CVV Number is another way to verify that the customer has the actual credit card in their hand and is not using a stolen credit card.

Q: If they were able to steal the credit card number, don’t they also have the CVV Number?
A: No. It is far easier to steal a credit card number than to get the CVV Number. While it is common for businesses to save customers credit card numbers on file (for future purchases), it is forbidden to store CVV numbers. So if there were ever a breach and credit card numbers were stolen, the thieves would not have the CVV numbers.

Q: If the CVV number were entered incorrectly, will the transaction be declined?
A: That depends on the business. Each business owner must set their terminal or website with CVV fraud protection filters, whether to allow transactions with the wrong CVV number to go through or not.

Q: Do I get a lower processing rate when I enter the CVV number?
A: No. Nor do you pay a higher rate if you don’t enter the CVV number.

Q: So you mean to say, that the CVV number is only there for fraud protection?

Q: So all those customers that I know and trust yet have been making them crazy for the CVV number every time – was all in vain?

Q: Why did I not know this until now?
I’m sorry, since these emails are educational rather than promotional, I will refrain from answering this question.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

F.A.Q. About the Security Code CVV

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Without fail, I almost always forget to either put up an out-of-office email message when I’m headed out for vacation or remove it when I get back. It’s one of those things I remember just as I’m shutting down, or sometimes even after I’ve already left.

Before you dash out on your next vacation, here are some cool out-of-office replies you can use to amuse your friends and business associates:

1) Hi. I’m thinking about what you’ve just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response.

2) I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons… When I return, please refer to me as ‘Margaret‘ instead of ‘Steve’.

3) On vacation. Hoping to win the lottery and never return.

4) I am away from the office right now. Unfortunately, I will be back tomorrow.

5) “I am currently out of the office on vacation.

I know I’m supposed to say that I’ll have limited access to email and won’t be able to respond until I return — but that’s not true. My phone will be with me and I can respond if I need to.

That said, I promised my wife that I am going to try to disconnect, get away and enjoy our vacation as much as possible. So, I’m going to experiment with something new. I’m going to leave the decision in your hands:

If your email truly is urgent and you need a response while I’m on vacation, please resend it to and I’ll try to respond to it promptly.

If you think someone else at XYZ International might be able to help you, feel free to email my assistant, Debbie ( and she’ll try to point you in the right direction.

Otherwise, I’ll respond when I return…

6) I am on vacation from mm/dd to mm/dd. I will allow each sender one email. If you send me multiple emails, I will randomly delete your emails until it is pared down to one. Choose wisely. Please note that you already sent me one email.

7) Sorry to have missed you, but I am at the doctor’s having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.

8) (For men only) I am currently out of the office on maternity leave.

That’s all for now. Welcome back! Now, let’s start responding to all those emails…

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

Reminder to Turn Off Your OOO Reply

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You know that one person you really can’t stand but everyone else loves? Something about that person that drives you up the wall — yet everyone else seems to get along just fine?

Most likely, the first time you met that person something about them rubbed you the wrong way. First impressions really matter. As research shows, not only do your conclusions about someone form in 30 seconds or less, but they usually last forever — even if in the future the person acts completely differently than you were expecting based on your first impression.

Clearly, this matters in sales. If you screw up the first call, your prospect could have a negative opinion of you for the rest of the relationship.

Good news: By avoiding these six mistakes when you call a prospect for the first time, you can ensure their first impression of you is great.

1) Speaking too quickly
I understand the urge to talk fast — after all, you’ve got a lot of information to communicate in a very short time. But adopting an auctioneer’s rapid-fire style isn’t the right solution. Not only can speaking too quickly make your prospects anxious if they can’t follow along, it also decreases the chance they’ll absorb everything you say, let alone evaluate it. And if they can’t think critically about your statements, good luck winning their business.

2) Slouching
Making multiple sales call in a row can be draining, so it’s understandable if your posture slides. Plus, if you’re in inside sales your prospects can’t see you — who cares if you’re slumped in your chair?

Even if the person on the other end can’t see your good posture, they’ll be able to hear it. Sitting upright makes it easier for your diaphragm to support your breathing, which in turn makes your voice sound fuller and richer. In other words, keeping your back straight can make you appear more engaging, powerful, and charismatic.

So before you pick up the phone, make sure your head is straight (not tilted up or down), your feet are flat on the floor, and your shoulders are pushed back.

3) Being inflexible
Ideally, you’ve got an agenda for the phone call. Yet you shouldn’t be so married to your agenda that you ignore what your prospect wants to talk about — for example, maybe you’re focused on identifying the person with purchasing authority, while the prospect wants to talk product features.
If you ignore or evade their questions so you can “stay on-topic” (that is, your topic), you’ll come across as pushy and self-interested.

4) Using the wrong tone
According to a recent study, strangers decide how trustworthy or dominant you are after hearing just 300 to 500 milliseconds of your voice. Not only that, but most strangers come to the same conclusions — meaning there’s such a thing as a universally trustworthy “hello.” The opposite is true as well: If your voice sounds untrustworthy to one person, there’s a strong chance it sounds untrustworthy to most people.

However, how you apply this study’s findings may depend on your gender. The study’s authors found that men who raise the tone of their voice are seen as more trustworthy, while women must vary their pitch to achieve the same effect.

5) Sounding unenthusiastic
On the first call, projecting enthusiasm was probably easy. But as the day goes on, you might find yourself losing some of that positive energy.

Unfortunately, if you sound apathetic, your prospect will assume you’re not truly invested in helping them — and recovering from this negative impression will be almost impossible.

When possible, set up the majority of your phone calls to coincide with your peak energy levels. And if you feel your energy flagging, take a short break: Get up, walk around, watch an inspiring TED talk, switch to a different task for a couple minutes, or even reflect on your latest achievement to get your adrenaline pumping.

6) Interrupting
We usually interject while someone else is talking for two reasons: Either we’re excitedly announcing we share the same opinion, or we’re too impatient to wait our turn.

The first type of interruption is forgivable among friends and family — but not with prospects. Not only can it be seen as rude, but you don’t know if you’re actually in agreement until they finish talking.

And the second type of interruption? It’s never forgivable.

If you’re a chronic interrupter, remind yourself before each call to let the other person finish their thought before you start yours. And don’t just start talking when they’re done — make sure you’re processing what your buyer is telling you, then respond to them instead of rattling off the thoughts you had while you were waiting for them to finish talking.

Try waiting a beat after you think they’re done to make sure they’re not simply taking a breath. While this might feel awkward, remember that the silence feels much longer to you know than the prospect — and you’ll be surprised at what many people will reveal when they feel you’re really paying attention.

It can be a little intimidating to realize that a prospect’s opinion of you hinges on the first three minutes or so you spend with them. If you come across the wrong way, you’ll be trying to overcome that mistake for the rest of the relationship.

But the opposite is true as well — if you make a great impression, your prospect will think you can do no wrong.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

First Impressions

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What distracts you?

For me, it’s the news alerts that appear on my cellphone screen many times a day. Or an email that may just be very important. Or suddenly remembering that I forgot to do something on my to-do list.

Yeah … it’s a lot of things. But I’m not alone: As reported by the National Business Research Institute, the top five office productivity killers are cell phones, the internet, gossip, social media, and email. And 85% of employers report needing to increase productivity.

Working more won’t help — as soon as we hit 50 hours a week, output starts to decline, yet 40% of people report working more. But all hope isn’t lost. The infographic below from ResourcefulManager outlines common productivity killers and strategies for doing more in less time.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!

Productivity Killers

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