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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 25, 2007 • Issue 07:06:02

10 keys to unlocking your million-dollar portfolio

By Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services Inc.

The American public is fascinated with the idea of becoming a millionaire. If you were being 100% honest, how many of you would say you have viewed the game shows "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," "Deal or No Deal" or "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?"

The point is achieving millionaire status has long been an American dream; we strive toward financial independence and freedom.

Earlier this year, I was privileged to be a presenter at the Southeast Acquirers Association meeting. Immediately following the session, and for months thereafter, I received phone calls and e-mails asking for copies of the presentation. Based on the overwhelming response, I've decided to share the talk's points in this article.

Very early into my bankcard career, I set an ambitious goal to develop a multimillion-dollar portfolio. I realized it would be difficult, yet possible, with the appropriate plan of action. Some may be wondering, What does it take? Following are 10 steps that worked for me:

1. Make a specific decision coupled with unwavering determination

More often than not, it's not about ability, but rather will. Can you versus will you? This distinction has always meant the difference between championship and mediocrity in any endeavor. After you've determined that failure is not an option, success becomes a matter of when, not if.

2. Create a plan of action

If your desire were to develop a million-dollar portfolio, it would require creation of a full-scale business plan. You must have a road map that specifically includes your achieving this goal.

Don't be among those who wander aimlessly within the bankcard industry. Determine how you are going to develop this portfolio.

3. Develop great processing and VAR relationships that correspond with your plan

There are numerous quality ISOs and processors with which you, the merchant level salesperson (MLS), can partner. When making a selection, keep in mind there's no one-size-fits-all provider. Therefore, your processing partners should support your endeavor and take you closer to your goal.

Avoid those offering a "vanilla box" you must fit in so that they can support their own goals. Have discussions with potential sales partners to help them understand what you're looking for. Then involve them in deciding whether working together will support your mutual objectives.

Additionally, make sure you have the ability to piggyback their relationships with value added resellers (VARs) or create your own. You may have a fantastic relationship with a leasing company, for example, and elect not to use their partners.

In addition, there are many qualified Internet gateway companies, gift card providers, check processors, and so forth. VARs will assist you in becoming an MLS with comprehensive POS offerings.

4. Secure great contracts that protect all parties involved, including you

An increasing number of one-sided agreements are out there today. Signing one of these would leave you vulnerable.

To avoid this, have an agreement reviewed by a good bankcard attorney, for example, Adam Atlas, Anthony Ogden or Paul Rianda.

They will make sure breach language is defined, cure periods are agreed upon, residuals are protected, responsibilities of both parties are identified, your relationships are protected, and so on.

Are incentives written into your contract? Examples include free terminals, bonuses, buy-backs and increased performance-based residual splits. Make these a part of your agreement.

Also, include a provision in your agreement that directs your residual income to your spouse or heirs in the event of your untimely demise. And make sure you have residual stream portability.

Be sure to address acquisition, too. Many MLSs are concerned about the potential fate of their careers if their providers sold residual streams, merchants or the entire company. Find out exactly what would happen to your residual income if your processor or ISO sold the company or its merchants.

Having the right to continued residuals is imperative, so preservation of this residual stream is a critical aspect of any MLS contract. Without such provision, any termination of the contract, even one by the MLS, could halt the agent's right to any further residuals under the agreement.

Remember, your contract is only as good as the company behind it. It's very important to fully understand whom you are doing business with. Research every prospective partner's reputation before signing an agreement.

5. Have a marketing plan

There are many ways to create a flow of leads. As you are becoming successful, you need to identify exactly what your plan for lead development will be.

Lead generation will basically break down into two categories: 1) direct lead development such as cold calling, appointment setting, networking and Web advertising; and 2) referral/endorsement programs, which include working with agent banks, associations and so forth.

For more information on lead generation, see the following articles, which I also authored: "Winning word of mouth," The Green Sheet, Jan. 22, 2007, issue 07:01:02, and "Word of mouth mojo," The Green Sheet, Feb. 26, 2007, issue 07:02:02.

6. Use professional marketing materials

If you want to have a million bucks, always portray a very clean and professional image.

If you are prospecting with a copy of a copy that was twisted sideways after having a few scribbles fixed, it may not suit your purpose. Sometimes I look at what our industry does in the way of street level marketing and just shake my head.

Additionally, at any level, you should have a professional Web site or mirrored corporate site to promote your efforts. Ideally, this would include your own contact information and e-mail address that contains your domain name.

7. Perfect your presentation skills

An excellent, professional presentation consists of seven key components: Build rapport; ask great questions; analyze and compare benefits and features; present your offer; disclose the costs; close the deal; and get referrals.

8. Provide excellent service with a personal touch

One thing you can offer that nobody else can is personalized, excellent service done by you. Return phone calls, make sure POS equipment is installed and working properly, and so forth.

Don't ever rely exclusively on a third-party to service your merchant base. Remember, it was in fact you with whom the merchant chose to do business. Make sure your interaction is never limited to simply closing the deal.

9. Engage in ongoing education, training and personal development

There are many ways to accomplish this within our industry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend the industry's regional tradeshows, association meetings, events and educational seminars, which occur frequently throughout the year.
  • Read industry trade publications such as The Green Sheet.
  • View online forums that can be a wealth of knowledge. (The GS Online MLS Forum can be accessed at www.greensheet.com/forum.)
  • Visit the Web sites of Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard Worldwide, Hypercom Corp., VeriFone and other leading industry entities.

10. Keep an eye on the numbers

Every professional salesperson should keep track of certain components. You must understand and track these numbers regardless of your method of selling, such as face-to-face, telephone, Internet or some other means.

How many contacts does it require for you to set an appointment?

What percentage of your appointments translates into a full-blown presentation with a qualified prospect?

What is your closing ratio for presentations given?

Let's assume that your goal was to make 20 sales per month. Here are the actual numbers for a seasoned, top-producing MLS:

  • The MLS requires 20 contacts per appointment and sets two appointments per day.
  • Ninety percent of appointments lead to presentations. Thus, the MLS makes nine presentations per week.
  • The closing ratio is 60%, which translates to five sales per week.

This approach works for everyone. You just need to plug your reality (better or worse) into the formula. Once you've done that you have the ability to determine what you need to do every day.

The MLS in the example provided needs to make 20 new contacts and do two full presentations every day to stay on track. How many doors or how many dials do you need to make?

After understanding your numbers, it becomes significantly easier to track the required productivity and achieve your desired outcome.

Zig Ziglar said, "You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win." end of article

Jason A. Felts is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida-based Advanced Merchant Services Inc., a registered ISO/MSP with HSBC Bank. From its onset, AMS has placed top priority on supporting and servicing its sales partners. The company launched ISOPro Motion, its private-label training program, to provide state-of-the-art sales tools and actively promote the success and long-term development of its partners. For more information, visit www.amspartner.com, call 888-355-VISA (8472), ext. 211, or e-mail Felts at www.amspartner.com.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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