Shortly after publication of Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents, The Green Sheet interviewed Bill Pirtle, President of the C3ET Credit Card Consortia for Education & Training Inc., and former Street SmartsSM columnist. He shared his perspectives on creating this educational volume.
Q. What prompted you to publish Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents?
A. There were two factors that prompted me to publish the new book and study guide. First, I found many agents and a few ISOs were using the book I wrote for merchants, Navigating Through the Risks of Credit Card Processing, for training salespeople in the credit card processing industry.
The primary catalyst, however, was seeing the ETA preparing to launch its Certified Payments Professional program. I questioned how effective a certification program could be if there was no standardized training in place for agents, whether new or established.
In my third Street SmartsSM column for The Green Sheet, I discussed the idea of setting up a training program with modules authored by industry experts, which turned out to be too large of a commitment for people. In October of 2011, I decided to rewrite portions of my first book as an agent training tool and supplemented this content with chapters by industry experts in specific niches.
Q. What should ISOs and MLSs expect to gain from this book and study guide?
A. The new merchant level salesperson (MLS) will find comprehensive coverage of industry basics, which is particularly important if the ISO does not offer training.
As new MLSs work through the book and study guide, they will gain expanded knowledge, discover new methods of finding and closing prospects, learn about ethics, uncover proven methods of building margins (and portfolios), set goals, practice calculations and test comprehension of concepts, in addition to finding tools to help become a more effective sales agent.
Many agents have problems with cold calling, especially by phone. Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents has three chapters devoted to just this topic written by international expert Greg Grimer, Thomas Waters of Bank Associates Merchant Services and Matt Bruno of Payment Logistics.
The chapters seemingly conflict, but in a good way. If one writer's advice does not work for the reader, another's will. Established agents will put Marc Beauchamp's chapter on prospecting to use to gain insights on where to find prospects and ideas for approaching new verticals.
The ACH, and gift and loyalty card chapters are extensive and written by two experts from Global eTelecom, Brian McDonough and Christopher Smith.
Readers will find valuable tips on using ACH and/or gift and loyalty cards as ways to get your foot in the door without resorting to "I can save you money on your credit card processing."
ISOs will be able to include the book and study guide with home-grown materials as part of a customized training program for agents. The study guide offers flexibility as it comes in a three-ring binder, which allows ISOs to add material and guidance on how to use the books.
Q. How did you select and guide the book's 38 contributing writers?
A. My sources for writers included LinkedIn, GS Online MLS Forum contributors, authors, business connections and referrals. Initially, I received a yes from over 60 individuals and companies. I knew I had a viable project based on this alone. My goal was to have two chapters on each topic to give readers a broader perspective and choice of methods. Commercialism was to be kept minimal to maintain objectivity.
Q. Please describe the contents of the book.
A. The book has six main sections and two appendices:
Section 2: MLS Development - This section includes 12 chapters to acclimate new MLSs, including legal strategies by attorney Adam Atlas, educational resources, and discussions about interchange and statement analysis. There is also a history of industry associations and how they offer value for ISOs and MLSs. For agents interested in learning a formula for developing a million-dollar portfolio, this is covered as well.
Section 3: Finding Prospects - Industry trainer Marc Beauchamp covers prospecting and an MLS discusses how he went from six applications per month to close to 60. Five experts from other industries discuss networking and how to make it work.
Section 4: Selling Process - This section begins with Brian Tracy's "Laws of Selling," followed by cold calling tips, consultative selling, completing the application properly and customer service chapters.
Section 5: Terminals & Gateways - This section includes chapters on the four ways of placing a terminal with a merchant, POS systems, how to compete with "free" terminals, mobile payments, and information about gateways.
Section 6: Added Value - Section six includes chapters on ACH and gift cards written by Global eTelecom, detailing not only what they are and their history, but also how to use them to get your foot in the door. Also included is a chapter on using ATMs as part of an MLS or ISO tool box.
Section 7: ISO Topics - This section begins with industry attorney Paul Rianda's discussion of six critical points for developing and sustaining ISOs, including the dangers of providing too much instruction to 1099 workers (independent contractors).
The last two chapters are on how two people set up their own ISOs (the last two chapters do not have corresponding study material in the study guide; they are more informational than instructional).
Appendix A: Recommended Resources - This simply covers some training, speakers and books that I feel can help the MLS.
Appendix B: Product(s) - USA ePay's Ben Goretsky was asked to provide a chapter on SaberPay, as I believe that ISOs and MLSs need more than one type of gateway to offer. eProcessing Network provides great shipping tools, and USA ePay offers the flexibility of using SaberPay as a mobile solution. The "s" in parentheses signifies our willingness to add products not otherwise covered in future editions.
Q. Do you anticipate follow-up or online editions in the future?
A. I can easily see a follow-up edition. There were many experts with material that I could not accommodate. Additional topics in the future might include niche marketing, approaching banks and registration issues.
Perhaps the success of Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents, www.creditcardprocessingforsalesagents.com/orders.html will encourage the participation needed for a Part II.
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