By Jeffrey Shavitz and Adam Moss
Charge Card Systems Inc.
The competition is fierce as merchant level salespeople (MLSs) compete for the same customer base. Why not differentiate yourself and contact more specialized vertical markets - the medical industry, for example?
During the past decade, we have been working with the medical community, including sole practitioners, practice management offices, hospitals, medical associations, industry trade groups, insurance companies and offices specializing in both elective and nonelective procedures. In all cases, our approach has been to create integrated programs to help our sales partners earn more business in this area of commerce.
When approaching the medical community, place your focus on changing the conversation. As with most businesses, health-care providers are inundated each day with calls promising to save them money on their merchant processing. Instead, why not try opening the conversation by speaking about how you can help reduce accounts receivables and improve cash flow? Our guess is that this approach will give you more productive conversations.
We believe success in our industry is centered around providing businesses with applications to help them run their business more efficiently and effectively. It is possible to devise an electronic payment system specifically designed for health-care providers. As part of that, the payment process can be designed to significantly improve revenue collection at the time of service.
In serving the medical community, this application can help you make the focus more about reducing accounts receivable and improving cash flow, and less about how much you can save prospects money on their merchant accounts.
One burgeoning area where we see great opportunity is targeting medical associations and buying groups. With the difficult economy in the past several years, medical associations are losing market share because they are not attracting new members at the same rate as before, and existing members are not renewing.
In good times, companies' annual dues could range from as low as $25 to upward of $1,000, depending on the size of their staffs and their number of office locations. Similar to payment businesses joining the Electronic Transactions Association (which we encourage), medical practices and related businesses derive tremendous value from affiliations with industry associations.
Annual association membership fees provide real value when a company gets involved. Yet a major problem we hear repeatedly is that most medical offices do not fully understand the value that can be derived by joining.
As ISOs and MLSs, you can profit from adopting a trade group strategy. Attending medical tradeshows and conferences may be a better use of your time than making lots of frustrating cold calls. We have all been to tradeshows as part of doing business.
In addition to meeting all the paying merchants who walk up and down aisles looking for connections and promotional products, one synergistic benefit to a payment company becoming a vendor at these shows is the opportunity to meet and mingle with your fellow exhibitors. You can create a program in which you work in conjunction with associations to demonstrate the value of the merchant services your business offers to their members, while also providing the associations with an aggressive revenue-sharing model.
This is a way to help many associations grow their membership totals even during the recession. Furthermore, such association endorsements will help your active agents receive warm leads, which have a very high closing ratio.
Whether working with local or national associations, it's amazing how much more powerful the phone call is to the merchant when you say, "We are the endorsed vendor to your medical association, and I want to describe a valued-added merchant services program now being offered by your association," versus making a random cold call pitching card processing services.
Those few words - whether you mention being the endorsed vendor, the vendor of choice or the preferred vendor - help differentiate you and your service and will earn you more business and more residual income.
Top-down selling is powerful and helps with exponential growth because it's scalable. Why sell only to one merchant at a time when you have the opportunity to sell from the top down, which enables you to meet hundreds or thousands of merchants through these endorsements?
We believe associations create meeting places where industry-specific executives can share information with fellow associates. Unfortunately, due to the difficult economy, many companies have chosen to cancel their memberships with local associations and buying groups and, worst of all, have stopped giving to charities that desperately need income to continue their programs.
In a world of generalists, becoming a specialist can be very powerful. This strategy should ensure your success and profitability in our industry.
Jeffrey Shavitz is the Chief Executive Officer of Charge Card Systems Inc. and Adam Moss is the company's Chief Operating Officer. Shavitz is an active member of The Green Sheet Advisory Board and the First Data ISO Advisory Board. The authors can be reached via email, respectively, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, or by phone at 888-505-2273. For additional information on CCS, please visit www.chargecardsystems.com/gsadvisoryboard or the corporate Web site at www.chargecardsystems.com.
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