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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Reevaluating the ETA CPP


Industry Update

NRF appeals to higher power

Amazon launches Amazon Local Register

New York proposes bitcoin licensing


Inc. 500/5000 payments industry fast trackers

How contextualization will shape m-commerce

Jared Isaacman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer


Cash is not dead

Patti Murphy
ProScribes Inc.

Managing for the long term

Brandes Elitch
CrossCheck Inc.


Street SmartsSM:
Who has what it takes to be an MLS?

Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services

Managing from a distance

Vicki M. Daughdrill
Small Business Resources LLC

Race to the top

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Company Profile

PayPro Tec

New Products

Lucky proposition for ISOs

PayLucky Solutions
First Data Corp.

Smart merchant technology

CardConnect Merchant Center


Negotiate from a place of power


Readers Speak

Boost Your Biz

Resource Guide


A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 08, 2014  •  Issue 14:09:01

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Race to the top

By Jeff Fortney

There is a phrase that has become part of our sales culture: race to the bottom. We hear it said whenever anyone speaks about a new product, offers tips on how to avoid attrition, shares reasons why some merchant level salespeople (MLSs) struggle, or talks about different sales practices.

I recently heard this phrase used in four consecutive sessions at a tradeshow. It was used to discuss trends in the industry, and what could be used to avoid that "race to the bottom." In another session, it came up when discussing building a sales force and how to hire people who would not perpetuate the trend.

It came up again in a discussion on reducing attrition, since retaining a customer today is better than trying to find a replacement in that race to the bottom.

A worn-out phrase

The term refers to a sale based solely on cost savings. In payment-speak, it means, Show me your statement, and I will save you money. We've all said it. We've all protested with statements such as, I refuse to offer pricing that is nothing more than a race to the bottom or I intend to sell service so that I can avoid the race to the bottom. Yet contrary to what people say, the race continues.

Ask industry old-timers (me included) about this form of selling, and they'll all say it's been around for as long as they can remember. The statement request may be said differently today, but the basis of the sales pitch remains the same: you're paying too much and I can fix that. Everyone admits this form of selling is inefficient and affects returns. But it remains the common sales practice of the majority of MLSs today.

Many who start in the payments business are told to get a statement, save the merchant money, and the merchant will sign. They hit the streets, maybe sign a few merchants, and in a month, receive a low return on their efforts. As a result, some potentially great MLSs decide that the hard work to sign merchants just isn't worth it, and they leave the business. Those who survive ask questions and look for alternatives to the savings-only approach. The challenge is that they are always at risk of falling back into this practice.

Three smart moves

Many successful MLSs never sell cost savings alone. They have three practices in common. They:

Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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