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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 27, 2010 • Issue 10:12:02

Keys to driving merchant retention

By Jeffrey Shavitz
Charge Card Systems Inc.

In our industry, there are four types of people: prospects, customers, loyal customers and former customers. Of course, we all strive for loyal customers, but doing so requires a deliberate, ongoing effort. We all know it's less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. What steps are you taking to reduce attrition in your portfolio?

As the world becomes more complex and time is at a premium, the challenge for merchant level sales-people (MLSs) is to connect with busy prospects in a meaningful way.

In their hurried state, many merchants would just as soon hang up the phone than listen to another sales pitch. And with permission-based marketing, the fact that you have someone's email address doesn't necessarily mean you can legally sell to them.

Satisfied customers expect to receive quality services and products. Given the level of difficulty in reaching these customers, we need to provide them with quality touches.

Because so many marketers have overwhelmed people with an excess of everything, many people are less likely to refer or recommend their products and services. Don't be one of those marketers.

Work smarter

Imagine you have 100 contented merchants, and each one gives you a few referrals, and each of those new merchants gives you additional referrals. Wouldn't you then have a very profitable business?

How many referrals do you receive in any given week or month? Why are some MLSs writing only a few deals per month while others, who don't appear to work harder, are writing 15 to 20? It's not luck. They are "working smart."

One smart technique successful agents apply is devoting a few hours or an entire day each week to connecting with their existing merchant base.

Do this, and you will be amazed at the results. Even if a merchant offers criticism, it's better to address it head-on rather than learn you lost that account when your next residual payment arrives.

We've all been there; it's painful to review your statement and see $0 next to one of your merchants.


Another powerful tool is innovation. A quote I once read sums it up beautifully.

I apologize for not remembering the author's name to provide credit, but it goes like this: "It's hard to follow the leader. Why? Because the leader did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken - it's no longer remarkable when you do it."

So stay connected to your merchant customers. Reinvent yourself periodically.

Figure out ways to help merchants achieve greater efficiency and profitability. In so doing, you will gain their long-term respect. They will gladly refer new business to you, and your merchant portfolio will grow accordingly. end of article

Jeffrey Shavitz is one of the founders of Charge Card Systems Inc. He is also an active member of The Green Sheet Advisory Board and the First Data ISO Advisory Board. He can be reached at jshavitz@chargecardsystems.com or 800-878-4100. For additional information on CCS, please visit www.chargecardsystems.com/gsadvisoryboard or the company's corporate website at www.chargecardsystems.com.

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