Six years ago, Heather Marsh joined New Jersey-based BPS Worldwide, an offshoot of Business Payment Systems in New York. Initially, she set appointments for Gary Shull, who co-owns the ISO with Robert Malmud. And Shull set out to mentor her.
Marsh is now ISO Manager, overseeing agent recruitment and support, customer service, telemarketing, acquiring-bank relations, and more.
For the last three years, she has also spent evenings and weekends as a merchant level salesperson (MLS), that is, when she isn't busy watching her four children (ranging in age from 6 to 19) play ice hockey.
In this interview, she discloses something all merchants have in common, as well as what makes for a satisfying career.
The Green Sheet: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Heather Marsh: I wanted to be a salon owner; I wanted to make people pretty. Now I save people money.
GS: What do you like best about your career?
HM: I love the people. I especially love the merchants who claim they have the best rates and think we can't beat them.
And then we do a proposal and show them they don't have the best rates. That makes my day.
I truly believe in what we do here. I work for a very honest, customer-service-oriented company.
GS: What has kept you in the industry?
HM: Gary and Rob and my corporate office. They are great people to work for. It's fun, and we all work together like one big happy family.
GS: How has the industry changed since you started?
HM: I am more aggressive, the reason being there is so much competition out there.
If you don't know what you're talking about, there are four other guys standing in line behind you who aren't honest and are willing to give everything away just to sign a merchant.
GS: If you could change anything about this business, what would it be?
HM: The dishonest reps and companies. Oh, and the free equipment.
GS: If you were going to call it quits and do something completely different with your life, what would you do?
HM: I wouldn't do anything else. There are so many different avenues you can go down in this industry.
GS: Describe a typical day in your life.
HM: My day starts at 6:30 a.m., and I'm out of the gate. I arrive at the office at 9 a.m. From then until 5 p.m., it seems like only a few hours. We are so busy multitasking all day long.
I scrub all the applications that come in and send them to New York. We have been averaging around 150 to 190 applications a month.
I am the rep support, so my reps are calling me all day long with questions or merchants' questions.
We also have a telemarketing room with five telemarketers presetting appointments for our reps.
And we handle our own customer service calls. We have an in-house technical expert, which is a big help.
We are a very busy ISO, and we all love it that way.
GS: Do you set goals for your career?
HM: Yes: more new merchants and the best customer service we can provide. We are a fast-growing ISO. Gary and Rob are very smart business partners.
If we all keep doing what we are doing, there is no way we will not only reach, but exceed the goals everyone has.
GS: What's been your greatest success as an agent?
HM: I get great satisfaction in helping our merchants. When they call and they are all in a tizzy, and we are able to answer their questions and help them, it is gratifying. And, of course, then they refer us to their friends.
GS: What's the funniest sales experience you've ever had?
HM: The funniest was when we sent my boss, Gary, out to meet with a psychic. We preset the appointment and called the day before to confirm.
We asked her to play a trick on him, and we told her some personal information about him.
So, when he got there, she knew things about him. He wasn't amused, but we all thought it was priceless.
GS: How do you balance the demands of your work and personal lives?
HM: Who has a personal life? I don't know about you guys, but I answer my phone all the time: [during] birthday parties, hockey games, football games, dinner with my husband. It's the way of life.
GS: What's the strangest thing a merchant has asked you/requested?
HM: Wanting to run their own personal credit card through their terminal — for about $20,000.
GS: Do you have a surefire way to resolve conflict?
HM: The merchants are always right. Without them there are no residuals, and there are no referrals.
GS: What is unique about your sales style/method?
HM: We are very laid back. We do not push our merchants. We find out what they need and what they are looking for. And we are fun people to do business with.
GS: Merchants are savvier now about credit card processing. How does this affect MLSs?
HM: I think it is good. I like when merchants ask all the right questions, and we can tell them all the right answers.
It makes our sales team more powerful having to stay up on all the latest rates and products.
GS: How do you generate leads?
HM: We only use "super pages," the phone books and, of course, word of mouth. It has worked for five years.
GS: Why is it important to have a full arsenal of products to offer merchants?
HM: Not every merchant needs credit card processing. So the more tricks you have in your bag, the better your chances are of closing merchants with some type of service.
And they always come back once you have proven yourself for the products you offer.
GS: What do you do when it looks like you're on the verge of losing an account?
HM: I always ask why they want to leave me. If they tell me it's because they got better rates, I ask them to fax over the written proposal from the new company.
Nine out of 10 times we show them that they really aren't saving money. The trick is to listen to them. And don't treat them like a number.
GS: What types of merchants do you prefer to work with?
HM: I'm not picky. I will work with any and all merchants -- from tiny mom-and-pop shops to big multimerchant chains.
They all have one thing in common: They all want to save money.
GS: What would a good MLS training program consist of?
HM: Hands-on. The only way to learn it is to do it. The more you are out there, the more you see and the more you learn how to be attentive to merchants' needs. You learn the different machines and products offered.
GS: How should an MLS go about choosing an ISO partner?
HM: Only choose ISOs that are willing to be loyal and honest.
GS: If you had to bring a new sales rep up to speed on interchange right away, how would you do it?
HM: We have this great little training called Interchange for Dummies.
It's real simple, straight to the point and makes it easy to learn national buy rates plus basis points.
GS: How has The Green Sheet helped you?
HM: The Green Sheet is a big source of information in our industry.
It keeps us up-to-date on change in the industry and different views, with selling points from diverse areas around the globe. I love the stories and the interviews.
GS: Any advice for newcomers?
HM: Think about your future. There is nothing like lifetime residuals.
GS: What is your greatest dream?
HM: To live healthy and happy and have healthy children.
GS: Do you have a motto that you live by?
HM: You only live once; you can't take it with you; and the truth will set you free.
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