By Jeff Brodsly
As a business owner, I am always looking for "good talent"; it would be foolish not to. However, it seems these days good talent is hard to find. Let me clarify: good talent does not necessarily mean the same thing to me as it does to others.
It is fairly simple for an individual to read some sales books and attend a few sales seminars, apply this knowledge to create an effective pitch, and become a halfway decent salesperson.
Those who take steps to understand the dynamic of the sale, and how to get what they want, will be far greater salespeople than those who swing blindly and hope to hit one here or there.
That said, people who continue to study the sales profession grasp that selling is about understanding your audience - their needs, their dominant buying motive (DBM) - and figuring out a way to show prospective customers that what you have to offer will solve their problems. Each merchant will have a different DBM, just as each person walking onto a car lot will have a different DBM.
For example, if a single 30-year-old man walks onto a car lot accompanied by his sister and nephew and a car salesman immediately tries to sell him on the most reliable, new minivan (emphasizing that the financing on it is 0 percent for 60 months), he has scant chance of making the sale. The same is true if he quickly tries to sell a slick, new convertible to an impeccably dressed, middle-aged woman. But why?
The reason is that he did not take the time to ask questions, listen and understand his audience. The single, 30-year-old man could be looking for the hottest new sports car to flaunt his bachelor ways.
Or maybe he's looking for a way to increase his confidence in the singles world by getting a hot new sports car that will give him a needed ego boost when pulling up to the bar at happy hour.
The salesperson assumed that because the young man was with a woman and child, he would be looking for a family car. He made a huge mistake. And the fashionable, middle-aged woman? She just had twin baby girls about seven months ago and is now looking for the safest possible vehicle to protect her precious new additions. She is not worried about looks, cost or speed. Safety is her DBM. Assuming by her appearance that she wants to be hip and have a new convertible is the sign of an amateur at work.
Salespeople who do not dig and ask questions are just wasting their breath and losing potential sales, no matter how polished their presentations may be.
Remember, each merchant has his or her own DBM, too. If you don't ask the proper questions, you will not know that your merchant prospect may not care about cost at all, but rather wants a provider who can be reached by cell phone 24/7. This merchant may have had a bad experience one holiday and lost $25,000 in sales because his terminal broke down, and he could not get in touch with anyone.
Uncovering this type of information is part of understanding your audience and each individual's DBM. Once you know a prospect's DBM (in this case it would be service and reliability), you can then show the individual how partnering with your company will provide what he or she is looking for.
OK, so if there are merchant level salespeople (MLSs) out there who know how to do what I just explained, they will be very successful in this industry. But to me this is still not good talent. Good talent is someone who can do this but do it with ethics, with morals, with integrity and with honesty.
My mother has always said, "If you do the right thing, you cannot be wrong." As a child, I hated hearing that, but now it makes complete sense. To separate yourself from the competition, whether you are the owner and president of an ISO or an MLS new to the industry, you must act with an honest and ethical mindset. If you do not, your actions will bite you in the end.
I may have learned this lesson the hard way through some of my business decisions in the past. I spent many years wearing an MLS hat for an ISO. Then I moved on to wear an owner/partner hat under this same ISO. This gave me multiple experiences, both good and bad, through various perspectives. Due to these types of experiences, I became driven to open my own shop, my way.
As an ISO, there are many ways to not fully disclose items and hide behind the bank. This may help the ISO grow by acquiring merchants faster than others or by recruiting sales reps with false promises. Merchants who are promised the world plus a $250 month savings, yet end up paying $250 more and are stuck in a 48-month lease, will be burned by those half-talented sales agents who found the DBM but then landed the business unethically.
Agents who are not good talent would rather have short-term pleasure for long-term pain. Hopefully, at some point, MLSs with integrity will meet merchants who have been burned, ask questions, evaluate their situations, acquire their business the right way, and keep their business for a long time.
The whole industry would benefit if more ISOs and MLSs would strive to earn business the right way and keep it forever. That way, we would be building our futures together, not creating enemies who implore Congress to enact laws to curb our perceived excesses. Let's commit to the health of the payments business for the long run and then do what it takes to prove our worth to our merchant customers.
MLSs who sign with ISOs because they are promised a $500-per-deal signing bonus plus an 80 percent split are immediately set up to sell unethically and fail. How can an agent sell for a shop in an ethical manner when the shop itself is selling unethically? By encouraging MLSs to have false dreams and offering untrue revenue splits, ISOs are setting agents up for failure.
Under such circumstances, MLSs will go out on the street, representing this too-good-to-be-true ISO, and after five or six months, they will find out they are getting a bad deal. At that point, they will realize they have jeopardized their reputation with merchants, family or friends whom they boarded under the unethical ISO who gave them a misrepresentation.
I am not a genius, but when an ISO gives up a $500 bonus plus 85 percent of the revenue, how can the business operate with a 15 percent share? It does not make sense. Simple math goes to show that this type of compensation plan is designed unethically, and thus is not designed by someone with good talent. At some point the "biting the hand that feeds you" approach will catch up to the ISO. Agents are the backbone of the industry; they should be treated with respect across the board.
To separate yourself from the competition, you must make a choice. Once again, as my mother always says, "If you do the right thing, you cannot be wrong." This is the choice we all face. There will always be multiple ways to get to the same goal; however, at the end of the day, or end or our lives, the most honorable way is to be a part of the good talent.
Those who share in the hard-to-find, good talent world can go to sleep at night in a very peaceful state. What do you feel when you rest your head?
Jeff Brodsly is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Chosen Payments, a company created with the industry's feet on the street in mind. Through his multilayered experience as an agent for a top ISO as well as a partner/owner under a top ISO, Jeff developed an organization that remains true to its agents. He can be reached at 805-910-1445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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