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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 25, 2009 • Issue 09:05:02

Look to the stars

By Vicki M. Daughdrill
Small Business Resources LLC

Successful ISOs have one thing in common - they all employ star performers. They understand that top merchant level salespeople (MLSs) provide a competitive advantage. Savvy ISOs know that the highest achieving MLSs:

  • Distinguish themselves as consistent and significant contributors to the company's bottom line
  • Have great people skills, excellent technical skills, and an understanding of the company's mission and purpose
  • Get excited by new initiatives, see possibilities and seek to find ways to make the company stronger
  • Are internal leaders, team leaders and "go-to" people
  • Step up to any and all tasks necessary to achieve the goal and get the job done
  • Communicate effectively - both internally and externally - and get things done on time and within budget

Stars aligned

Top professionals have common characteristics and attributes. Here are a few.

  • Commitment to a way of life: Most people live by a set of guiding principles. Principles can be philosophical, religious, moral or ethical in nature. Similarly, ISOs build corporate cultures based on guiding principles. When an MLS finds a company committed to a set of principles that the MLS believes in, that rep is more likely to be energized and work with enthusiasm, inspiration, motivation and accountability.

  • Commitment to the client: Star performers take personal interest in their clients. They often know the details of their merchants' lives, including hobbies and the names of spouses and children. They also provide world-class customer service, understand the value of relationship building and often convert clients into friends.

    Over time, top-tier MLSs become trusted friends and advisors to their merchants rather than simply serving as vendors or service providers. These relationships frequently help them weather storms such as price or rate increases. Many superior MLSs command significant financial rewards based on the relationships they bring to ISOs. But their commitment to their merchants translates directly into increased sales, cross-over sales, renewals and referrals for ISOs.

  • Commitment to the company: Star performers are powerfully motivated to succeed. They understand their contributions help ISOs achieve their full potential. And they are loyal. Since top MLSs enjoy being considered among the best in their field, they prefer to work with companies considered to be the best in the payments industry. When a top MLS joins a premier ISO, the greater the value for all parties concerned.

Choosing the brightest

How do ISOs go about finding MLSs who excel? When you are searching for a new employee and want to find a standout, follow these steps:

  • Define star performance for your company, and create a profile of the ideal employee you need to fill vacant positions, including the expected results you anticipate.
  • Conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, identifying the challenges and opportunities in finding and developing top-notch performers.
  • Educate yourselves on proper interview techniques, including legal limitations of interview questions, and prepare thoroughly for scheduled interviews.

Following are sample interview questions to use when attempting to hire the créme de la créme:

  • What traits, skills and talents do you possess that make you a star performer?
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to overcome objections and close a sale.
  • Explain how you handled a situation where you had to comply with a company policy you did not agree with.
  • Provide an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership.
  • Explain how you handle unhappy or dissatisfied customers or co-workers.

Once you have identified your top producers, how do you keep them engaged, satisfied and productive? Here are some simple steps to consider.

  • Clearly articulate a mission and purpose statement that is specific and detailed. It should define the company and express exactly what the company will and will not do.
  • Provide to all your employees a set of well-defined goals that are specific, measurable and reachable.
  • Create policies and procedures that are simple and easy to understand and follow.
  • Craft an organizational structure to attract stellar performers and the clients who follow them.
  • Assure that all employees are treated consistently and fairly and that the best workers are not overworked covering for the underperformers.
  • Design a process to identify potential stars, and focus on motivating them to develop to their full potential.
  • Offer a compensation package that motivates your most productive professionals to continue to function at peak capacity.

Exceptional MLSs are incredibly valuable to the success of ISOs. So hitch your ISO to a star performer, and watch your profits soar. end of article

Vicki M. Daughdrill is the Managing Member of Small Business Resources LLC, a management consulting company. E-mail her at vickid@netdoor.com or call her at 601-310-3594. ##

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