By Aaron Nasseh
Prudential Payment Systems Inc.
I am often asked by merchant level salespeople (MLSs) which sales model is the best. While on the surface this may appear to be a simple question, the answer is complex. I have had the privilege of managing various models. I have built a feet-on-the-street program, directed telesales, developed an appointment-setting model and recruited experienced MLSs and ISOs. Each of these models has its own benefits and challenges, yet all of them can be effective when executed properly.
Ultimately, it's up to you to determine which model is most suitable for your business. My goal is to provide you with key points so that you are able to make an informed decision. To provide a comprehensive look at each model, I will write a series of four articles analyzing each model. In this first installment, I will examine how to build a direct, feet-on-the-street program.
This model presents challenges to managers, as all departments must run in harmony for this model to reach its full potential. It is slower to get off the ground, since you will generally be dealing with inexperienced reps who require training; however, it is also one of the more profitable models, since you do not have to share as much of the residual as you would with experienced reps.
To start, establish a budget to cover your online job postings, marketing materials and support team. The job postings are crucial. This is how you are going to attract potential candidates, and they could also be the most expensive part of the model. If postings are not managed efficiently, this could quickly drain your entire budget.
Negotiate the pricing of the postings as much as you can, and do not over buy. Some choose to start in the local market and then expand; those who have larger budgets may choose to go national right away. If the model is new to you, I strongly advise you to start small. Whichever route you take, your job postings must reflect the true description of the position. Your goal should not just be to attract candidates, but to attract the right candidates.
People often write so much hype in their ads that readers cannot tell whether they are applying for an outside sales position or a salaried management position. This is counterproductive. You want candidates to know what they are signing up for before they reply to your job postings; otherwise your staff will receive a lot of useless submissions that will hurt the efficiency of your model.
Next, employ a great recruiter. The recruiterâ€™s job is to contact the senders of the dozens and dozens of resumes you will receive daily. The recruiter should not be overly concerned with the content of the resumes since sales experience or even merchant services experience does not necessarily translate to success. What is important, however, is assessing the candidateâ€™s motivation and knowing the individual's â€śwhy.â€ť
Why is a person looking for a position that does not pay a salary? What is motivating the applicant? The answers to those questions are far more important than anything I could ever find on a resume. Most of the successful MLSs I have had the pleasure of working with under this model had never heard of merchant services before seeing our ad, but they had the drive and desire to succeed, and they were willing to learn.
Your recruiter should also provide the candidates with a detailed explanation of the position, such as the potential income and an overview of what is expected of the candidate. Your compensation plan should be simple and attractive, and it should include residual as well as per-account bonuses so that your reps can have immediate income. There is no need to pay too much residual in this model. After you provide this information, if the candidate is still enthusiastic and would like to proceed, assign the candidate to a sales manager.
The sales manager functions as a coach, a role that is crucial to the success of your sales force. A good sales manager must be highly organized and have excellent organizational and motivational skills. I believe that 80 percent of the success of your sales manager depends on his or her ability to motivate your team, so make sure you have the right candidate for this position. Do not hire someone who relies on you for daily motivation. If your sales manager is not motivated, she cannot motivate anyone else.
A good sales manager has daily calls with her team in order to train, motivate and set daily goals. I believe the most effective way to train a new recruit is to conduct short ongoing training. I prefer 20-minute sessions. I know an office that used to conduct a six-hour training session; I do not believe this approach is effective. First, it tends to intimidate new recruits; second, it is virtually impossible for new recruits to retain the volume of information conveyed during such a long session. So keep it simple so as not to discourage recruits while you build their confidence and teach them the necessary skills.
Remember, your recruits already have 100 different reasons to quit. Donâ€™t add to that by overwhelming them with unnecessary information.
Finally, you must provide your agents with good marketing collateral. The primary purpose of such materials is to give your rep the confidence to engage the merchant in a dialogue when entering a store. Your marketing materials should be simple and highlight only your offering.
This is the short version of how I believe the feet-on-the-street model should be executed. Keep in mind that this option relies on a never-ending recruiting cycle to grow, because the average employment expectancy of a new recruit is approximately three months. This is an exciting way to build a business and could offer your organization significant financial rewards. My colleagues and I grew this model to generate over 1,000 new apps per month in just 12 months. If we can do it, so can you.
Aaron Nasseh is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Prudential Payment Systems Inc. He has extensive sales and management experience. Nasseh previously served as the General Manager of CardPayment Solutions and Vice President of Sales at iPayment Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 818-330-4055.
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