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The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 10, 2015 • Issue 15:08:01

The one man show: Selecting ISO partners

By John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC

The youngest winner (ever) of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, just celebrated her 18th birthday July 12, 2015. She once made a very good statement: "Let us remember that one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." If Malala would allow me the honor of adapting her quote solely for this article, I would say, "Let us remember that one person can change the world." I believe every change within the world starts with one man or woman.

My objective in writing this series of articles is to provide a transparent discussion on the various issues that a guy, or a girl, would juggle while operating as a one man or one woman show within the payments industry. In my initial article, "The one man show: Strategic business planning," The Green Sheet, July 13, 2015, issue 15:07:01, I began a discussion on strategic business planning that outlined the construction of your unique value proposition (UVP). For this article, I will continue deliberating on strategic business planning by outlining how to efficiently select your ISO partner or partners.

Aligning with your UVP

If you haven't already done so, please check out my article from issue 15:07:01 to understand how to arrive at your UVP. It is what will set you apart in the marketplace, determine your mission statement, allow you to make return on investment forecasts and determine the markets you are going to serve.

Your UVP should answer the following inquiry: understanding the generic marketplace, what will I specifically bring to the segment that isn't already being provided by the current crop of solution providers? Once you identify your market segment, carefully examine all of the current solutions providers serving that market segment to figure out how they are doing it now. Then determine how you will do it better.

The next step in strategic business planning is to select your ISO partner or partners. I've noticed that merchant level salespeople (MLSs) tend to make inquiries structured along the following lines: Which of the following ISOs are the best ISOs to work with? Which one of them should I choose? The agents then list potential ISO partners by name and include whatever free terminal, upfront conversion bonus, no-transaction-fee promo or other agent recruiting offers each ISO advertises.

The issue with this method is that – assuming the vast majority of ISOs in the market strive to be ethical, transparent and to do what's right for their merchants, staff and external agents – the MLSs are approaching the question in a generic manner rather than with a concentration tied to a strategic business plan. The best ISO partners in the market for you will always be the ones that best align with your UVP.

Learning how to screen

So, for example, let's say you decide to specialize in POS systems for the restaurant sector within a particular state or region. Your UVP would be centered on providing innovative POS systems to that sector. The systems should bring value that isn't currently being provided. This includes all the features, integrations, big-data analytics, etc., that your system supplies that your sector is lacking.

Furthermore, let's say that you decide to operate your office strictly as a telecommuting concern, communicating with current merchant customers, prospects and your ISO partner(s) strictly by telephone, email, fax and social media.

Based on this structure and planning, the ISO partner or partners you select should have access to a full-fledged POS system that competes within the restaurant sector on price, quality, service fees, function, and accessibility. Your ISO partner should also have the resources to deploy the system to your merchants anywhere within your targeted state or region, coupled with a field information technology (IT) rep that will not just provide full installation on-site for your merchant, but will also handle initial training aspects for the merchant's staff members.

For ongoing training, the merchant would also have resources deployed by the ISO partner in particular, from its internal IT department that would deal with such issues as malfunctions, programming, intermediary terminals to deploy if the POS system goes down, as well as deployment of an IT field rep back to the location for advanced on-site issues.

So make sure a prospective ISO partner has all of these capabilities first. From there, negotiate your compensation in terms of lifetime residual splits, bonuses, etc.

Remember, the key takeaway from this piece: the best ISO partners in the market for you will always be the ones that best align with your UVP. In my next article, I intend to focus on business-to-business sales. I believe our industry has been deploying outdated sales techniques that not only create unfortunate delays within sales pipelines, but also decrease the chances of converting merchant prospects into active merchant customers within your portfolio.

end of article

John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in Accounting, Business Management and Journalism. Tucker has nearly 9 years of professional experience in Commercial Finance and Business Development. You can contact John Tucker by email at tucker@1stcapitalloans.com or by telephone at 586-480-2140.

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