By Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services
Editor's Note: Editor's note: With this article, Tom Waters and Ben Abel are wrapping up their tenure as Street SmartsSM authors. We have relished their inimitable style, infectious enthusiasm and strong commitment to helping others grow professionally. And we look forward to their continued contributions. Stay tuned for next month, when we will welcome master business builder Jeffrey I. Shavitz as the new Street SmartsSM author.
This past year has been enlightening for us and, hopefully, for you, our readers, as well. As we collaborate on our final piece as authors of The Green Sheet's Street SmartsSM column, we cannot help but hear the bittersweet symphony of our exit music echoing in the MLS Forum. Like the buddy cop duo of the poorly written action movie, we adventured through some fun topics, awkwardly chuckled through the solemn moments, and sarcastically retorted each other's shameless plugs. As we now pass the torch, we fully anticipate our future cameos through solo epilogue articles.
The experience of this column has been a thrill for us; we hope it has been for you, too. Over the course of one year, 24 articles and an incredible amount of forum threads, you've gotten to hear our thoughts and we've gotten to hear yours. For us, it has been like one continuous conversation, a phone call never disconnected, a chat window never closed, as forum members have spoken, answered and joked in response to topic prompts and sidebar tangents.
But all good things must come to an end, and with the last few strokes on our keyboards, we compose our final installment. This mantle has been carried by many illustrious names before ours. We hope our authorship has held to their standard of excellence and kept the bar raised for future contributors.
In our prior articles, we touched on many topics from merchant attrition to EMV to the CPP. Like Mr. Miyagi speaking to Daniel-san, we wanted to leave you with takeaways you could hold onto in the months, and maybe years, to come. We asked the MLS Forum, "If you could give one piece of advice to an MLS, what would it be?" Here are some of the replies:
"Hit it hard, fast, and early ... This is a great industry to be in." – 1slick67
"Find a mentor who has been there and has the battle scars – and is willing to share their knowledge." – clearent
"You don't fail unless you quit! If you want it, work harder for yourself than you would anyone else." – SalesAMS
"Start off as a part time job; you won't make enough in the beginning to survive. Then take bigger steps." – maketelinc
"Make your own path, don't follow those of others." – jgarza
"Don't try to be everything to everyone. There are opportunities galore in this business. The trick is knowing how to turn down the ones that don't fit within your core competencies. Be really good at a few things, not mediocre at a lot of things."– paymentlogistics.com
"Don't think you know everything; ask for help when needed. Every sale should not be made. Be honest with everyone you work with; deception always will bite you in the ass sooner or later. Know how to read your residual statement and what is omitted. You cannot win every battle with a merchant or your ISO. This is a sales career; you will have highs and lows. If you can't work through the low points, this is not for you." – TheCreditCardman
We recommend re-reading those 207 words of advice a few times to let them sink in. Too often we stumble through new enterprises and opportunities, learning through mistakes and hoping they won't overwhelm us and drag us under the waves. If you are new to the industry, endeavor to learn from the decades of experience ingrained in the quotes above. Use that wisdom to keep the sharks away from your hull. Learn everything you can, take advantage of every resource available and hone your skills at every chance you get. In the words of Pan American, "The world is yours."
Before heading for the door, we want to thank a few people who were especially helpful during our tenancy here: Laura McHale Holland, our editor, who has been a huge help in navigating deadlines; Dale Laszig, the prior Street SmartsSM author, who provided feedback to make it a smooth transition; and the host of MLS Forum contributors who made this column a dialogue and not just us talking to ourselves.
The best of luck to Jeff Shavitz, who takes over from here. We hope everyone has enjoyed the column and leave you with the advice that has adorned our header since day one: Don't Sell. Solve.
Thanks everyone; it's been a blast. We'll hit the lights on the way out and leave the keys in the mailbox.
Tom Waters has been dedicated to the merchant service sales profession since 2001. Currently, he is responsible for cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs in information technology, accounting, sales and marketing in his role as Sales Director of Bank Associates Merchant Services (www.bams.com). Using fresh and matter-of-fact training methods, Tom has contributed to the success of thousands of agents, affiliates and clients. He can be reached via email through email@example.com or via phone at 347-651-1065.
Ben Abel is Regional Director at Bank Associates Merchant Services. Since joining the team in 2006, he has risen through company ranks with a paradigm that his success was measured by the success of those around him. Ben is a dedicated, pioneering trainer whose methods of merchant services consultation have helped many agents expand their portfolios in terms of processing volume, deal count and profitability. He can be contacted at 347-866-9571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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