By Steve Norell
US Merchant Services Inc.
I often notice that when merchant level salespeople (MLSs) are in front of merchants trying to get deals done, they fail to create a sense of urgency. What exactly do I mean by this? Simple, the more you are able to get merchants to realize it is urgent to say yes and sign with you, the more merchants you will sign.
Let's examine this a little closer. The other day I was in my bank making a deposit, and a customer walked in the door asking if the bank was still paying $150 if you open a checking account.
At that point the manager showed him a sheet with all the different signing bonuses the bank would pay, depending on what the customer did.
One option was to open a checking account, another was to apply for a new credit card, one was to apply for a loan and, sure enough, one was to open a merchant account. A customer choosing any of those would be paid from $100 to $250.
What surprised me was that the bank would do this only on certain days of the month. So what does this do? It creates a sense of urgency to sign now or forfeit the bonus money.
As most MLSs know, just about every ISO pays some sort of signing bonus or conversion bonus. Some are large, some are small, but they all pay an upfront bonus. Why not take a page out of my bank's playbook and take all or part of your signing bonus and give it to the merchant as long as he signs right now.
Also, have the merchant sign an additional agreement that states if the merchant leaves before 12 months, he or she has to pay back the full amount of the signing reward. This will avoid taking a loss when you get a claw-back from your ISO.
The hardest part of this marketing concept is to hold firm to your sense of urgency and stick to your ultimatum. If the merchant calls you the following week and says he or she is ready to sign and would like the money you offered, you need to be ready to say, "No, that was not the deal I offered."
However that is up to you. If you really want that merchant, you may not want to tell him the bonus offer is off.
Many large banks are doing this sort of thing day in, day out. As you take on any of these large banks or other competitors using this technique, make sure that when you are successful against them, you pound your chest.
Let's try another idea. If your contract has an early termination fee, say you are willing to pay that fee in the event of early termination - but the offer expires today. Or offer a free terminal for signing today. The list could go on and on.
Here are a few other offers I have used over the years. Sign with me today, and I will:
You can get as creative as you want, but as in any offer, there has to be a stick and a carrot. If you give the merchant the money and he does not follow through on his part, he needs to pay you back. If you can take the money you are given by your ISO and use it wisely instead of just pocketing it, you will find that not only do you get a better merchant base, but in most cases you will keep your merchant customers for a long time.
So after reading this, see how many types of benefits you can come up with to create a sense of urgency.
Steve Norell is Director of Sales at US Merchant Services Inc. Based in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he oversees the USMS sales force and maintains the company's bank and processor relationships. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 772-220-7515.
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