Bill Beattie, of GMR Payment Systems, oversees the company's sales nationwide. He has been in the payments industry for almost 14 years and enjoys the challenge and income potential his career provides.
But with a thriving ISO, a wife and four children, he rarely finds time to water-ski even though he lives on a lakeshore. The sport has been one of his passions since childhood, when he envisioned growing up to wow crowds with daredevil aquatic stunts for a living.
In this interview Beattie talks about what it's like to learn things the hard way, how his goals have tempered with experience and why he thinks our industry has lost some of its value.
The Green Sheet: What do you like best about your career, and what's been most challenging?
Bill Beattie: My career has been a very tough learning experience. I had little experience in business or sales. But after several million dollars invested in this industry and many years at many levels of this industry, I believe I nearly have a triple master's degree in business and sales.
GS: Are you working as an employee or contractor for someone else, or do you own your own company?
BB: I started as a sales rep for another company and have owned two ISOs over the last nine years. I currently own my ISO, and I still am looking for the next step to move forward - although I am satisfied with my place in the industry.
GS: What has kept you in the industry?
BB: With success and failure, I am still in the industry because it is a great challenge. I enjoy the level of income potential.
GS: How has the industry changed since you started?
BB: Wow! At times I wonder if I would wish this industry on my best friend. At times it is difficult, but it seems that all the people I've known, hired, trained and had a hand in getting them in the industry, like me, are still in the industry. It must be the money. Or, it is the challenge of the sale.
GS: If you could change anything about this business, what would it be?
BB: Our industry is changing. I think it always has. My question is who drives the change? The banks, the ISOs, the reps, the merchants or will it be the government soon?
Our industry is quite amazing; it exemplifies free enterprise. Where else can a sales rep have a job that turns into a career and then a company and, potentially, much personal wealth? Electronics, banking, money, sales ... what else is there?
GS: Looking back, would you have done anything differently in your career?
BB: Oh, yes. I suppose knowing what I know now I would almost change everything a little. I wish I had more knowledge. I wish I had access to information like The Green Sheet and the Internet from day one.
But it's OK. I learned, like most of your readers, the hard way. It's kind of like the story we tell our kids about walking to school in the snow, uphill, for 10 miles - while you were carrying your brother.
When I started in the processing industry, I had to earn the right to get shared residuals. We didn't have free equipment, the Internet or thermal paper. Reps today have a great opportunity to start a new career with great financial potential.
GS: Do you set goals for yourself?
BB: Yes, but my goals are no longer to conquer the world or become the biggest ISO in the universe. I am content with small steps of growth: adding merchants and relationships to my portfolio.
GS: What are your long-term business goals, and what steps are you taking now to ensure you'll reach them?
BB: I have gotten more involved in every step of our industry. I have spent many hours and years on the streets and equally in the training room with new reps. I then spent many years in the office studying the business side of things.
Although I still perform all of those functions, I have now moved to the larger marketplace of conventions and building relationships with associations. All of these steps are important. And continuing to learn, practice and improve on them will, hopefully, ensure future success.
GS: What has been your most significant learning experience?
BB: You don't need to be everything to everybody. But finding a niche is key.
GS: What's the funniest sales experience you've ever had?
BB: When a sales rep of mine glued a Hypercom to someone's wall, and all the wallpaper fell down with the terminal. Not your best day installing.
GS: What's the strangest thing a merchant has asked you/requested?
BB: To run a 50K transaction over the phone because they were shipping fireworks overseas.
GS: Have you ever lost or almost lost a residual stream?
BB:Yes, I have lost residuals - mainly because I didn't really understand the industry in the beginning.
GS: Do you have a surefire way to resolve conflict?
BB: Agree, understand and try to solve. And have a good team beside you to help solve quickly.
GS: What is unique about your sales style/method?
BB: Ask any decent sales rep, and they will tell you they themselves are unique. That is what sells - people.
GS: Merchants are savvier now about credit card processing. How does this affect MLSs?
BB: This is true. Instead of fighting it, understand this and try to learn more than they know so you still have something to offer.
GS: How do you generate leads?
BB: Simply meeting people _ one at a time, groups, people who know people. How? Simply by going and being in the marketplace ... businesses, people I buy from and merchant groups like local chambers.
GS: Why is it important to have a full arsenal of products to offer merchants?
BB: This is a competitive market. You at least have to have all the products just to be on a level playing field.
GS: How do you ensure account retention? What do you do when it looks like you're on the verge of losing a sale?
BB: You keep a customer by being on the offensive and being available. When a customer is on the verge of canceling or losing a sale, it many times is too late. You are then backpedaling.
GS: What types of merchants do you prefer to work with?
BB: Medium size merchants: greater volume and they know more people.
GS: Do you think there will always be street sales?
BB: Yes, merchants will not change via the other avenues as easily. Our industry is complex, and merchants want to see a person who can explain, install and answer questions.
GS: What do you think about "selling" free terminals?
BB: I think our industry gives or sells free terminals in theory. But we all make up the money somewhere else. It isn't the best thing to lower our standard and give [equipment] away. Our industry has lost some of its value.
GS: What does it take to succeed in this business?
BB: A business plan, a great mentor, decent cash flow and patience.
GS: What is your experience with agent training?
BB: I have trained [others] for nearly 10 years. Personal training is important. Someone who can teach, coach and mentor is key.
I think a new rep also needs to see the bigger picture. So a trainer needs to involve them at the super ISO level so they feel involved.
GS: How should an MLS go about choosing an ISO partner?
BB: By checking them all out on the phone and Web. Then narrow it down and fly to the main candidates. A solid contract and a good feeling about your ISO partner. You want to trust them.
GS: How has The Green Sheet helped you?
BB: It was the source where I found my ISO partner. Also, in some way, it brings us all together in an industry that is so competitive. I see reps I brought in the industry now advertising in The Green Sheet. It's kind of neat.
GS: What hobbies do you enjoy?
BB: Most all sports, barefoot waterskiing and playing with my kids.
GS: If you were going to call it quits and do something completely different with your life, what would you do?
BB: I would want to buy, fix up and sell houses.
GS: What's your greatest dream?
BB: To have peace, and joy. I think many times in an industry where we make a lot of money and have great financial goals we look at too many dreams (in the sky).
GS: Do you have a motto that you live by?
BB: If you can think it, try to create it.
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