In 1993, Matt Hoskins was a junior golfer at Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. As he made his way around the course, crowds followed. OK, the fans may have been there for a competitor, Tiger Woods. But still, as a youth, Hoskins was good enough to play with Woods. And he went on to play golf for Methodist College in North Carolina.
Anyone who has picked up a fairway wood knows mastering golf takes plenty of time on the course, as well as abundant patience, discipline and dedication. You also have to stay up-to-date on the latest technology and equipment.
"Golf is a sport that demands practice daily," Hoskins said. "You don't just pick up a club and score well. It requires constant practice and attention to detail."
A career in sales requires the same kind of commitment: To succeed, you must be tenacious, willing to study and evolve, and able to keep up with new technology.
Today, Hoskins puts the lessons he learned in golf to use as President and Chief Executive Officer of PayProTec, a registered ISO of Chase Paymentech Solutions LLC.
Rather than reach for the PGA Tour after college, Hoskins chose the sales path. And for the next five years, he sold businesses corporate insurance. During that time, he realized the power of residual income: Each time one of his customers renewed a policy, Hoskins earned a residual, called a renewal.
"That is where I learned the power of making a sale and getting recurring income every single month," he said.
When Hoskins later joined the bankcard industry, he applied the expertise he'd acquired as a golfer, as well as new skills he'd learned in the insurance industry.
And he found the two industries had similarities, including the types of customers he had to impress: merchants and business owners.
"Both [corporate insurance and bankcard services] are difficult to sell in that the hardest thing is getting an audience with the decision maker," he said. "When you have an audience you can present the product."
After he gained experience in the POS market, Hoskins crafted a flexible merchant level salesperson (MLS) program.
"We felt we could put together a deal and recruit MLSs because we could relate to their issues," Hoskins said.
"Selling bankcard is quite similar to corporate benefit sales. Both require choices in compensation to survive the learning curve."
Hoskins said his company provides MLSs the knowledge, tools and education to get prospects' attention. "We've found that once you have their attention you have a good chance of getting the account," he said. "The hardest part is getting the person to sit down with you."
Many MLSs have family obligations, and a residual-only compensation program can be unrealistic for those who have recurring monthly bills.
Therefore, MLSs have two compensation options with PayProTec: residuals and upfront payments.
Hoskins said his company, which was founded in 2005, offers higher residuals than many of its competitors, typically from 60 to 80 percent.
Hoskins feels agents deserve this. "In all honesty, the agent is doing the heavy lifting," he said. "There is no arguing that; we want to support them. If they are going to choose residuals, we want them to have more than they can get elsewhere.
"The majority of agents have yet to experience higher than a 50 percent split due to the financial constraints free terminals put on their ISO partners," Hoskins said.
MLSs who prefer not to wait for residuals or who need money quickly, can select the company's 25x program. While in the insurance industry, Hoskins was given a choice in compensation. He could select "as earned," which is basically a residual. However, for many agents, surviving on only "as earned" income was not possible.
"Unless [the agent] had savings, a home equity line of credit, lived off credit cards, or borrowed from friends and family, he couldn't survive," Hoskins said.
The other option was to take an upfront commission, based on what the client was forecasted to pay. That is how PayProTec's 25x program is designed. It pays agents an upfront commission based on 25 months' worth of processing.
"It is designed to fill the gaps when building residual portfolios or during times of unexpected financial needs," Hoskins said. "25x is also a strong resource when building a team of subagents."
Both options have benefits and drawbacks. A residual earns more money over the life of the account, but under this form of payment, MLSs must wait to receive money. Also, if merchants do not pay, MLSs do not receive residuals. In contrast, MLSs who choose the 25x payment receive money quickly, but they earn less money in the long run.
MLSs can choose the compensation program they would like to apply account-by-account. Hoskins advises agents to use 25x when they need it. "We encourage a hybrid," he said. "Find a happy medium."
Hoskins also encourages MLSs to ask themselves what their goals are and why they are in the payment processing industry. For many, it is to build a business and earn residual income years from now.
Hoskins suggests that for the first 10 days of the month, agents focus on paying the bills, and for the rest of the month they can build residuals.
"It only takes half the deals it does at other ISOs, because at PayProTec you are getting a bigger piece of the pie," he said.
The PayProTec team is focused on acquiring long-term relationships with MLSs. "Like our retention numbers for merchant accounts, we have a very low attrition with our agents," Hoskins said. "We invite our agents to join a family, and that requires constant attention and communication."
Hoskins noted that if agents aren't making a steady income, they are not going to last. That is an additional reason he offers the 25x program. Also, PayProTec pays agents every Friday, "just like a regular job," Hoskins said.
When an MLS signs up with PayProTec, he or she is assigned a dynamic agent number, which is used to identify the MLS on paperwork for compensation purposes.
However, since the agent number is dynamic, it can serve the same function in a variety of situations.
"To my knowledge, we are the only one that offers a dynamic agent number," Hoskins said. "It means you can do any type of commission program with one number."
For example, if an MLS has one merchant account earning him or her 50 percent and another account earning 80 percent, the MLS can use the same number for paperwork and related materials for both accounts. "One agent number can do anything here," Hoskins said.
PayProTec offers MLSs an online tool to track and manage their accounts. The eMerge agent portal keeps agents directly connected to PayProTec's corporate office.
"You have instant access to a library of training materials, sales and marketing material, terminal information, business tips, and much more," Hoskins said. Agents can view residual reports, track volume, get training material and download merchant applications.
Hoskins emphasized that PayProTec's customers are the MLSs, not the merchants. "What drives me every day is to wake up and see the number of e-mails and phone calls pertinent to what our agents are working on that day," he said.
"We are trying to mentor these individuals, who share the same goals that we share, and help take them to the level that they desire to be, both professionally and financially for their families."
Hoskins knows the marketplace is a tough space today and that agents need focus, goals and strategic planning. "As an MLS, it is very common to lose sight of those aspects – the big picture if you will," he said. "We like to paint that picture every morning, and the joys of those conversations surpass any financial rewards."
Hoskins said he and his team do not focus on how much money they make in a month or how many accounts they have. Instead, they focus on MLS performance. "Ultimately, if they are succeeding and our focus is on that success, there is no doubt that PayProTec is a winner," he said. "We invest in our agents daily."
And PayProTec believes in the power of MLSs to influence merchants. "In an era where our competition has convinced itself they can market programs to merchants in the form of short-term incentives at the expense of the MLS, PayProTec stands firm in its foundational beliefs that agents will forever influence the consumer's buying decisions," Hoskins said.
The patience, dedication and persistence Hoskins honed in his golf game is rubbing off on MLSs he takes under his wing, and this is a source of satisfaction.
But his career choice has another perk: Hoskins gets to golf at least once a year – at the Electronic Transactions Association Annual Meeting & Expo.
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