By Jeff Fortney
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a merchant level salesperson (MLS) about the changing payments landscape. She was wondering if the industry was passing her by. She was well aware that payments is a technology-based industry and that merchants are very concerned about their costs, the speed of deposits and how easily they can accept payments. However, merchants were now asking about the cloud, POS solutions, Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) and mobile wallets.
In most cases, her merchants didn't necessarily want all of these solutions, but they were hearing about them from various sources and were wondering if there was a way they could use this new technology to their advantage.
It has definitely been interesting to watch this shift. The old radio station, WII FM (What's In It For Me) seems to have changed formats. Merchants have become skeptical, and rightfully so. They have been hammered with fear tactics regarding EMV. They have been offered "free" POS solutions only to later discover hidden costs that weren't fully disclosed.
In addition to this acquired skepticism, merchants are becoming more and more technologically savvy. In fact, many merchants are from the millennial generation, which means they have never known life without iPads or smartphones. They have no fear when it comes to discussing how to best leverage their tablet devices or how best to use the cloud to their advantage. As such, what's in it for the merchant has changed greatly.
Discussions like the example I just described have become more and more common. Many MLSs have told me they are fearful they no longer have the knowledge base they need to be successful.
Do you sometimes feel this same way? If so, there are some dos and don'ts that will help you overcome this fear and give you an advantage over your competition.
The next steps are to identify the topics that are needed today.
Also, do an Internet search for articles written by reputable news sources. Pay close attention to the statistics on percentages of cards issued and the types of terminals and POS solutions that are EMV enabled. Additionally, pay close attention to how the solution works for your merchant types. If you primarily focus on restaurants, for example, you should understand how tip adjustments work.
In every case, your ISO partner should be a key source for gathering this information. Go to your ISO owner or designated representative with your concerns and that person should be able to provide direction.
Most importantly, don't spend time gaining knowledge at the expense of your sales efforts. Seek balance. There will always be more you can learn in our industry. Just remember, it's OK if you don't have all of the answers. You just need to know someone you can trust who will help you get the answers.
Above all, listen to your merchants. They will tell you what they are hearing on that important channel, WII FM. This will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your customers' needs. And it is one of the best ways to ensure your long-term success.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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