As ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), the more value you bring to your merchant clients, the more likely they will continue working with you, according to Kim Fitzsimmons, First Data Corp.'s President of Independent Sales Services.
She advised attendees of the recent Southeast Acquirers' Association meeting on ways to increase merchant "stickiness." ISOs and MLSs can make themselves unique and less replaceable by offering merchants a full suite of payment services, which include gift card and loyalty programs, electronic check conversion, and PIN-based debit card acceptance, as well as identification verification tools.
To sell such products, ISOs and MLSs should form strategic partnerships with respective companies. A great way to get started is by talking with representatives from those companies at tradeshows like the SEAA. (This year, about 70 vendors attended.)
"Ask them questions; interview them just like you would a [job] applicant. ... Make sure your key value is their core competency," she added. Also, interviewers should put together a checklist that includes questions about the company's industry experience, financial stability and customer service.
When looking for value-added partners, Fitzsimmons stressed the importance of due diligence: Always get references and make test calls to the customer service department, she said. Having a good track record is important because "their reputation is your reputation."
Economies of scale must also be considered. "Make sure they can grow with you," she said. "When you add more value, merchants then look to you - as their business grows - as their adviser."
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