As a child, Terence Van Horn dreamed of being a millionaire. Raised by a single mother who taught him the value of money and hard work, he quickly learned the meaning of ambition. Van Horn found his way to the payments industry through a mentor, and he believes getting advice from a trusted expert is a crucial ingredient to success for all merchant level salespeople (MLSs).
Now a Merchant Advocate and Chief Executive Officer of the Van Horn Group, he is currently building his own sales training module to educate MLSs.
Recently, he saved a stranger who was experiencing a seizure on a crowded Manhattan street. This encounter changed his life and led him on a religious journey to become an ordained minister, albeit one who listens to 50 Cent and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In this interview, Van Horn discusses his strategies for achieving business goals, why he makes a point to follow up with merchants and his desire to be financially free.
The Green Sheet: How long have you been in this business and why did you choose this profession?
Terence Van Horn: I've been in the payment processing industry since 2001. I didn't choose this profession, it chose me.
I always knew that residual income and multiple streams of revenue was the only way that I would be able to live financially free, this profession picked me up by both lapels and shook the heck out of me. I still get nervous twitches just thinking of that run in with destiny.
GS: When did you know you'd be able to succeed in this business?
TVH: I knew that I would be able to succeed in this business after meeting and receiving the best training from Bob Carr, Judy Altenburg and Richard Ross of Heartland Payment Systems Inc.
I understood that I was the only variable in the mathematical equation of success. I knew that after receiving their information, coupled with my activity, that I would definitely be able to meet and exceed my goals in life through this opportunity.
GS: What business/profession were you in before?
TVH: I was business partners with NFL (National Football League) Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, where we offered small business consulting packages in the marketplace.
I provided businesses access to a team of attorneys that specialized in every area of law, marketing, financial and tax professionals to be at their disposal for a monthly recurring or annual fee.
I believed this to be the greatest opportunity in the world until I met my mentor, Lennox Armstrong. He taught me everything I needed to know to get started. I quit my job and worked with him. My first two weeks in the business, I signed 13 deals; I was on fire.
GS: What do you like best about your career, and what's been most challenging?
TVH: I like knowing that my children will not have to depend on someone for a job when they get older. I know they will have the opportunity to be whatever they desire and won't be dream-restricted because I can't afford to support them.
There have been times where I walked away from being an agent, put my hat up and decided to work for an ISO, even though I knew inside that I could do it on my own.
Something always happened, though. I'd realize I knew more about sales than my manager, I was getting residuals for only "x" number of months, could be fired for any reason, could not offer the best solution to my clients, and so forth.
I realized the only difference between me and the company I was working for was that they were registered and they had paid someone to create all of their marketing and training.
This has been the most challenging part of my career, knowing when to stop looking for someone else to help and hire me and learning and committing to doing that for myself.
GS: Describe a typical day in your life.
TVH: My day starts at about 6:30 a.m. by sifting through The Green Sheet and looking at interesting topics on GS Online's MLS Forum.
The MLS Forum is the best way for the independent worker to have a connection to thousands of other individuals with like minds.
With people like Coach Bob, Mike Nardy, Jared Isaacman, Anna Solomon, Slick Streetman and Dee Karawadra, you really feel like you have friends out there who care about your success.
I add content to my Web site (www.vhgagents.net) and send and reply to e-mails from the previous day. I catch up on whatever online reading that I may have bookmarked. By 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., I'm out the door on my way to an appointment or to give a proposal.
If I don't have any appointments, then I'm knocking on doors, meeting new merchants, building rapport, probing and getting the merchant statement. I'm out in the field for five, six or eight hours per day.
Once back in the office, I send in my completed apps, input contact information and prepare for where I need to be tomorrow.
Even if I'm home as early as 6 p.m., I spend the rest of my entire day on the computer working on my Web site, glued to The Green Sheet, or completing the last phase of my PowerPoint training modules for my future sales force.
GS: Do you set personal and business goals for yourself? If so, what are they? What steps are you taking now to ensure you'll reach them?
TVH: One of my personal goals was to stop smoking. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for the last two years, and I recently went cold turkey and quit.
Most of the challenges in life are usually internal. It is one heck of a battle overcoming that scared, lazy, weak person inside of you. It is very important to set goals for yourself.
How else would you know if you've gotten "there" if you never wrote down what or where "there" is?
A few business goals and the steps I'm taking to ensure I get "there" are:
GS: What's been your greatest success so far as an agent?
TVH: It's been the acquiring of knowledge. I have been successful in constantly finding new ways to build a better business model through my everlasting hunger of making tomorrow have more of an impact than today.
GS: What's the funniest sales experience you've ever had?
TVH: It wasn't funny when it occurred, but when I was new to the industry a merchant asked me what my company's interchange rate was. I told him that we didn't have interchange; we just have qualified, mid-qualified and nonqualified.
GS: Have you ever lost or almost lost a residual stream?
TVH: I lost a residual stream of $650 from one merchant after signing him up, because I never followed up.
When I found out my competition gracefully took him away, the only thing I could do was apologize and promise it would never happen again. It was too late though, and I lost him for good. That was the last time I lost a merchant based on something that I neglected to do. The fortune is in the follow up.
GS: What are you doing to ensure that your clients are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard?
TVH: I send them documentation when it is made available. I also have a merchant forum that all of my clients can log into from my Web site that keeps them abreast of everything.
GS: What is unique about your sales style/method?
TVH: My sales style is consultative; I have a question-based selling approach. It's about how well you ask open-ended questions and how well you are able to quietly listen, no matter how bad you want to say something.
GS: Merchants are savvier now about credit card processing. How does this affect MLSs?
TVH: It forces the MLS to become an educational powerhouse. Your merchants must look at you as more than a credit card person and as a consultant that has various solutions to their problems.
GS: How do you generate leads?
TVH: I ask every merchant for at least five referrals. Even if I didn't sell them or ever get a merchant statement, I always ask for referrals.
GS: How do you explain interchange rates to prospects?
TVH: Some will never understand, so just make sure you fully explain qualified, mid-qualified and nonqualified.
For those savvy merchants who can comprehend, I just explain that there is a different cost associated with each type of card you bring in. One of the many factors that differentiate each card type is risk.
I then will be able to give them examples of risk associated with certain card types and let them understand how and why more risk equates to a higher cost.
GS: What do you do when it looks like you're on the verge of losing a sale?
TVH: I do a mental recap to see if I missed or ignored something. I also ask the merchant, "What is it that is stopping me from earning your business today?" The merchant will be honest and tell you. It could be price, service, ease of conversion and so on.
GS: Do you think there will always be street sales?
TVH: I believe that one day we will be a cashless society. And within the next 10 years we will see only three or four major nationwide banks, and there will probably be less than two to three processors.
I think one day there will be no need for feet on the street as technology advances, portfolios are bought, companies merge, ISOs are bought out, and so forth.
GS: How should MLSs go about choosing their ISO partner?
TVH: They need an attorney who can clearly explain in detail what they need to know before they sign. They need to know that anything is or should be negotiable, especially if both parties are bringing something to the table.
I would recommend that they have a mentor or success coach to give them that extra push needed for them to be successful after signing. I would even suggest they schedule a conference call with the owner of the company.
GS: How has The Green Sheet helped you?
TVH: The Green Sheet is a publication that I depend on to stay up-to-date on what's happening in my industry. The Green Sheet is responsible for my becoming an ISO.
GS: Any advice for newcomers?
TVH: Find a mentor in this industry; perhaps, sign under this person so you can make money while learning.
You need someone to show you the ropes and be honest with you. There are so many angles to this wonderful industry, I wish I would have had in the past what I am prepared to give now.
GS: What hobby or hobbies do you enjoy?
TVH: I am an Internet junkie, I love to listen to music, write poetry and read books for positive mental development.
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