The Green Sheet Online Edition
January 25, 2016 • Issue 16:01:02
Facts and figures of the MLS
Having spent much of my professional life in the payments industry, I have surveyed many of our merchant level salespeople (MLSs), spoken with others in the industry at large and have my own reflections on what makes me tick in this business. To quantify and better understand the feelings, work habits and daily routines of salespeople in our industry, I recently updated the results of a questionnaire I sent out a few years ago and added information from the fourth quarter of 2015.
In this article, I will share this updated data with you. It provides factual information as reported by the respondents. I have provided some of my personal thoughts along with the objective information generated from my questions.
Following are insights drawn from answers to several questions contained in the questionnaire:
- Basis points of profitability: MLSs are writing more interchange-plus deals and are often in shock when they see a prospective merchant customer who processes $5,000 per month at interchange + 10 basis points.
- Technology: Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they are "scared" of technology and haven't taken the time to embrace technology, even though deep down they know it's the wave of our industry.
- Strategic planning: Eighty-five percent of respondents said they do not have a strategic plan in writing spelling out how they are going to accomplish their goals within the payments space. Of this, many said they have a mental plan but have not put pen to paper in order to quantify their goals.
- Value versus price: A dominant theme was that over 50 percent of the respondents said they try to sell on value, but price is the overriding factor in getting a merchant to convert.
- Education: Thirty-eight percent of respondents indicated they believe they need to become more educated on interchange, acquiring and issuing banks, and the exact process of a credit card transaction.
Yea or nay
The following data was derived from answers to yes/no questions contained in the original questionnaire:
- More than 50 percent of respondents consider the payments business a commoditized industry.
- More than 50 percent of respondents are carefully searching for ancillary and synergistic services to offer merchants, for example, gift cards, cash advance, prepaid, and mobile processing solutions.
- Less than 50 percent of respondents prospect to a specific merchant vertical niche.
- Less than 50 percent of respondents attend an industry tradeshow once per year.
- Less than 50 percent of respondents speak to their merchants at least once per quarter.
- Less than 50 percent of respondents have a formal merchant attrition program.
Let's make the Street SmartsSM thread in the GS Online's MLS Forum a powerful place for all of us to visit, learn and share information. In this regard, I encourage you to go to the MLS Forum (click on Forums from the top menu at www.greensheet.com) and write down a question you want an answer to or a topic you'd like explored in this column. I will take all these questions and use them for a follow-up Street SmartsSM story in the first quarter of 2016.
You can also email me your questions and comments at email@example.com. The Green Sheet is a great vehicle for sharing information with fellow MLSs with the goal of making each of us more professional and better educated within our industry.
Aristotle once said, "We are what we do." Word was circulating around the internet in the early years of this century that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Researchers at University College London debunked that in 2010, stating that it takes people, on average, 66 days to reach the point where a new behavior becomes automatic. We all need to improve upon our habits to improve our professional performance, and a little over two months isn't long in the overall scheme of things. Let's learn from others in our space (and outside our industry) so we can be even more valued as service providers to our merchants
Jeffrey I. Shavitz is Chief Executive Officer of TrafficJamming LLC, which is a virtual business group for entrepreneurs and small business owners to help grow a company's sales (traffic = customers in his language). His experience in payments includes co-founding Charge Card Systems Inc., which was sold to Card Connect in 2012; Alternative Merchant Processing, dedicated to high-risk merchant processing; and Charge Card Funding, involved in the cash advance space. Jeff has published four books: Size Doesn't Matter — Why Small Business is Big Business, which became an Amazon No. 1 top release in both the business and entrepreneur categories; Small Business Aha Messages; The Power of Residual Income – You Can Bank on It!, and Networking – Get Connected. He can be contacted at 800-878-4100 or firstname.lastname@example.org; his websites are www.jeffshavitz.com and www.trafficjamming.com.
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