By Caroline Hometh
The implementation of a successful training strategy is critical to staying competitive during challenging economic times. Training plays a vital role in providing the skills and knowledge needed to stay ahead of the pack. When it comes to global issues, training is paramount because there is a constant stream of new and different information.
Global training must cover two areas: sales and operations. From a sales standpoint, the first issue this specialized training must address is how the major card companies work worldwide, how they price interchange and some of the differences in rules and regulations.
Global training must next focus on currencies other than U.S. dollars both to authorize in and settle in. There are myriad choices and decisions to be made by merchants at the time of settlement:
These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions merchant level salespeople (MLSs) need to ask. The list of questions will vary, depending on whether they are talking to the marketing or finance or tech department. Training is the key to knowing what to ask and how to respond to the information provided.
Global training must also address the fact that the nature of international sales is different. Often MLSs are asked about some of the differences and how payments work worldwide, so they need to be comfortable with 80 different forms of payment types.
There are also different settlement processes. Here, in the United States, we are accustomed to daily settlement. International processing can take up to 72 hours, and even longer in South America and Asia.
From an operations standpoint, global training must cover the merchant account application as well as underwriting. International merchant account applications requirements are lengthier, so there is a greater need for clarification, and that is where the proper training sessions come into play.
Underwriting international accounts is more complex than underwriting domestic accounts. Language differences often require translation services, and there are many global operational issues that are just not present stateside.
Training is a basic requirement of going global. How do you address that requirement? Provide the appropriate tools such as detailed training manuals, slide/PowerPoint presentations, face-to-face training sessions, webinars, website tools, conference calls, online support and a customized program to meet the needs of your resellers.
No matter which genre of training you select, providing a question-and-answer session is a necessity. A successful training program allows its participants to ask questions and be part of an interactive session.
No one person knows how much expertise an individual or company possesses. Interactive training sessions provide the feedback needed to identify and assess the merits of the sales force.
Please note that training for global processing is not the same as standard sales training. Standard sales training is all about closing the deal. Agents are even trained to listen for phrases they can turn into a close. When it comes to global training, it's all about the expertise.
You are selling your understanding of global processing, as well as your credibility in this arena. You're not selling your ability to turn a phrase and close a contract. Because of this major difference, global training must focus more on knowledge than sales technique.
Global training sessions should never exceed one hour. You'll lose the audience and cover too much information in a prolonged time frame. Schedule a session each week for several weeks, rather than cram all the information into one day.
Needless to say, the most beneficial sessions are conducted in person. You can gauge the reaction of your audience and can immediately see if your presentation is making any sense to them. That kind of feedback just isn't available over the phone or on the web.
Web-based sessions are admittedly more efficient and do reach more people. Perhaps webinars can be implemented as follow-up training sessions to the initial face-to-face seminars, since supplemental training is just as important as the introductory program.
To structure an effective global training program, you need to know that people learn through visual and kinesthetic modes. To meet the visual need of training, provide manuals, PowerPoints and handouts.
To meet the kinesthetic need, set up mock meetings at the training sessions; have the MLSs give presentations, and then discuss together the pros and cons. Invite a limited number of agents for each session; too large a group hinders interaction and dialog.
Because of the nature of our industry and the unavoidable high employee turnover, training sessions need to be conducted quarterly for new MLSs. Refresher sessions should also be held quarterly for existing agents, since international policies are constantly changing.
Who in your company is best suited to conduct these training sessions? Your trainer should be someone who is patient, well spoken and comfortable in front of a crowd. Just because a professional is good at selling doesn't mean he or she is good at training. Good trainers possess knowledge, willingness to share and a desire to engage in a two-way conversation with resellers.
Trainers who lecture without interacting with their audiences will fail. Trainers have to understand the material well enough to personalize it for each audience. An effective trainer has to capture the trainees' interest quickly, either through humor or a relevant story.
And finally, how do you measure the success of your global training program? Easy. Look to the portfolios of your resellers. Look to your bottom line. If what you see is not what you expected, go back to your training strategy and give it a global makeover.
Carrie Hometh is a respected industry professional in the international marketplace with more than two decades of global experience and expertise. She currently serves as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Payvision, a leading international payment solutions provider that offers a comprehensive suite of products and services that include global acquiring, multicurrency processing and alternative payment solutions. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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