The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 22, 2013 • Issue 13:04:02
Hanging out your consultant shingle
I am a payment professional in Canada with a good understanding of the Canadian market. I would like to open my own consulting business to advise companies in the United States how to expand their operations into Canada. How would I do that?
To the best of our knowledge, The Green Sheet hasn't published an article devoted to how a payment professional can break into the world of freelance consulting (sounds like a good idea for a story). However, the editorial staff huddled over the matter and we came up with some thoughts we hope you will find helpful:
- Cultivate experience: A payment consultant must have industry experience, a thorough knowledge of the rules and regulations governing payments, as well as an acute understanding of how the various elements within the industry operate and interact. We expect it would take several years to develop a knowledge deep enough to qualify someone to provide meaningful advice to companies in this sphere.
- Specialization: You have selected a specialty based on geography, which has worked well for some. Other areas we've seen people choose are vertical markets, like petroleum or restaurants; Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance; mobile payments; marketing; agent training; and building an ISO to sell. Possibilities abound as long as there is a demand for the type of expertise you offer.
- Contacts: It goes without saying that having an email contact list filled with a range of industry experts is vitally important. Having knowledgeable colleagues and partners to bounce ideas off of and discuss industry topics and trends with is indispensable. So a budding consultant must develop and nurture relationships in the industry, which means having a collaborative and easygoing approach, as opposed to a combative, "my way or the highway" outlook. Furthermore, contacts are what new consultants rely on to get a foot in the door and grow their businesses.
- Tradeshows: Consultants routinely travel to the regional, national, even international tradeshows to keep abreast of industry developments, catch up with colleagues and generate new business. A willingness to take the initiative, engage and interact at events is therefore a necessity. Additionally, consultants often speak and lead panel discussions at conventions. So having the ability to enthrall large audiences with your expertise is a valuable skill to cultivate.
- Write for industry publications: Writing for respected industry publications like The Green Sheet is an excellent way to establish a reputation as an industry expert. Our publication includes guest articles from the best minds in the industry. Being a part of this lineup can go a long way to building a foundation for success in consulting.
Obviously, this is only a general guide. There are numerous ways to break into the consulting business. If you have the experience, skills and confidence to render knowledgeable, insightful advice that companies can use to grow their businesses, then you will find your way. We wish you the best of luck.
From GS Online's MLS Forum
Third-party telemarketers, yes or no?
In a thread titled "3rd party telemarketers," GS Online MLS Forum member CPP1 asked the forum if anyone could recommend a good third-party telemarketing company. Following are excerpts from the discussion that ensued at www.greensheet.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=39502:
"Anyone that has found a great deal of success does it for themselves."
"Like I always say, and we generate over 500 leads a week in several states, why trust the most important part of the sale process to a third party? And if there is success, they will call other biz like yours and sell to them also, maybe with some of your ideas and scripts; or they see how well the leads are doing and charge you more; or worse yet, you start relying on them and then the leads slow down or stop all together; or they cherry pick the leads and you only get [useless leads]."
"I've seen a few of my agents do this, and almost all of them have reported that it is a large amount of capital outlay for very little reliable return. ... I would say that third-party telemarketers remove you (as other posters have said), from the all important first phase of the sale. Remember that these people will not be versed in exactly what products you offer, how you sell or who you are as a person. I would recommend, 100 percent of the time, starting out the slow way."
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