Merchants needed cash advance before the economic meltdown in 2008, according to Mark Cerminaro, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at RapidAdvance. "There were still a lot of obstacles for individuals who had that kind of need-based desire for capital," he said. It was that need that convinced Cerminaro to make the move from financial adviser at Morgan Stanley to inside sales manager at RapidAdvance.
Chief among the skills Cerminaro honed as a financial adviser was communication. "I would meet with clients, and we would lay out their financial picture and get an understanding of what they wanted to accomplish and what their needs were, and then be able to identify what was the best fit for them," Cerminaro said.
That attitude prevails at RapidAdvance. "We've really embraced that type of culture at Rapid," he added. "You really have to listen to what people need versus telling them what they need."
Bethesda, Md.-based RapidAdvance has partnered with over 1,000 ISOs to resell its merchant cash advance (MCA) product based on that philosophy. "They know best what they need," Cerminaro said. "You have to guide them and educate them. But you have to understand what they're looking to do to make a successful partnership."
Cerminaro is convinced MCA is a product for the times. He feels that even if merchants could get bank loans, MCA is still the better option because of how the product is structured, with advances repaid over time via percentages of credit card receivables.
"Since we're buying a percentage of their future sales, we only get paid when they make a sale," he noted. "So if business takes a dip for one month, and fluctuates, and their sales aren't necessarily consistent all the time, they're simply paying us less in that month."
MCA requires a different selling strategy for ISOs as well. It's the type of sales tool available at just the right time, according to Cerminaro. "It doesn't have to be a hard sell where I can get you money right now," he said. "You want them to know that you can get them that capital.
"What you want is that when that need does arise - you know, their oven breaks, their air conditioning goes out, and it's a restaurant and it's in the middle of the summer, and they need that money and they need it quickly - you want to be that phone call that they make."
But that doesn't preclude ISOs and merchant level salespeople from mixing MCA into pitches and steering the conversation away from the standard rates and equipment play, Cerminaro said.
"So it's something where they can find a different need that the merchant may have that previously they weren't able to say we can take care of," he added. "And they're able to continue to offer something to fill that need and ultimately offer their processing services as well."
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