Matt Bruno is the Vice President of Sales for San Diego-based Payment Logistics Ltd., a technology-focused ISO he joined after putting his accounting degree to use at Morgan Stanley. He specializes in fostering new partnerships and expanding existing relationships with merchant level salespeople (MLSs), VAR partners and POS developers. In this interview, he highlights several factors that contribute to success in sales, for example, focusing on how you can be most helpful, asking the right questions and sharing your personal side.
Morgan Stanley was a great company to work for and taught me a lot about business in a short time. When I moved to California in 2008 for personal reasons, I wanted to work for a smaller family owned company – in part to balance out my experiences with Morgan and in part to make a bigger impact on an organization.
I met Dustin Niglio at Payment Logistics and interviewed for an accounting position. I was offered the position, but I asked if there was anything available in sales. There was, and I started my career in sales. I didn't know anything about the payments industry until I started – but I learned quickly and helped grow the sales channel. Over time, my efforts were recognized and I was promoted.
I'm glad to have found a home involving payments technology – one of the hottest markets around right now.
Being involved in a company that's on the cutting edge of the industry and helping to reshape the status quo is probably the best form of engagement I can have. A big part of my job focuses on the latest in payments technology. Payment Logistics has consistently been at the forefront with great in-house products. In addition, the Niglio brothers have been great to work with and continue to provide the environment I need to succeed.
I found the key to my success has always been the phrase "How can I help?" and keeping an eye out for things that can be improved. Within Payment Logistics, I started contributing immediately by solving relatively small issues with basic processes. Over time, those small changes created bigger changes that helped the company grow, which in turn helped me grow.
All sales boil down to a numbers game. The more people you connect to, the more potential clients you'll have. There's really no huge secret to phone/email sales; it's a combination of volume of contacts, consistent follow up, good conversational skills, the ability to pick up on small talking points (that is, listening for the prospect's dialect, keeping track of family members they mention, etc.), and a product/service you feel passionate about. With enough calls and enough follow up, you'll get the opportunity to at least have a real conversation with most business owners. With enough real conversations, you'll gain the trust of some business owners who will give you a shot at earning their business. With enough solid shots, some clients will buy what you are selling. So long as your product fits what you sold, you'll have a happy client.
Also, research companies beforehand so you know what you are talking about. Every person you talk with could be important to your success, so get their names and be friendly – even if they aren't. Ask questions – a lot of questions. Always set a follow-up call before ending the call you're on. Make sure you follow up.
I simply do my job and try to help as often as I can. Building a referral partnership isn't just about what you say; it's about what you do and how you do it. Doing your research prior to calls, understanding the existing issues and the partners expected results, correctly explaining the benefits of your program(s) while owning up to your shortcomings, and holding yourself and your partners accountable are just some of the things I think are important to build real partnerships.
A real partnership is not always perfect. There will be bad times in most cases. I've found that when you have gone through rough waters with your business partners, it can make things smoother down the road. The key is working through those problems together in a mutually beneficial way and being open/honest with your partners.
The key is to ask questions and understand the goals for the various parties. What works for one ISV/ISO/agent may not work for another. By asking specific questions, and following those up with more questions, I've been able to really get a detailed idea of where a partner wants to be. The trick then is creating the map to get there, which can be more difficult – especially if where they want to be involves a lot of work.
Often when I'm speaking with an ISV that is talking with another payments technology company, the biggest difference between the two companies is:
To be successful, ISOs need to have a base understanding of their technology offering that includes the fundamentals of data security, programming efficiency, what their technology offering to the ISV does (and doesn't do), what issues the technology solves (and what it doesn't solve), and the like. They also need to understand the ISV's current position, their longer term goals and constraints. In some cases, the goals will conflict with the constraints.
The best salespeople are the ones that are brave enough to say, "That won't work," and smart enough to follow that with, "But this will."
Ensuring that what I promise in the sale is delivered is really the biggest factor. If you promise gold and deliver bronze, while the solution may work, the relationship will always be tainted and likely lag behind. Often this is the biggest barrier to successful partnerships.
Another key is understanding analytics and metrics. Being able to provide accurate reports to partners about historical and projected growth is a key to strong partnerships.
The best way to maintain a relationship though is to keep pushing forward. If the relationship involves boarding merchants – be sure you're consistently boarding merchants. If it involves referring merchants to your partner – be sure you're referring merchants.
Keeping up! There's a lot of change out there and a lot of bad information. Trying to sort through it all can be difficult, but a steady diet of industry articles and communications with colleagues can really help. A recent example of this could be the misinformation about EMV capabilities like adjusting tips on EMV transactions (many said it was not possible – however it is possible).
The biggest challenges are yet to come – especially as the industry consolidates more and combines with the POS/ISV world.
When I started in the industry, I kept relatively quiet about my personal life and shied away from talking with folks about my passions outside of the job. At some point, I changed my tune and really started to embrace talking with folks on a more personal level.
A good example for me has been music. I'm an avid musician and always have my mandolin with me at tradeshows and other sales trips. In many cases, I've played with my partners who also happen to be musicians and led sing-alongs (usually after a few drinks). While that is completely unrelated to processing or technology – it's a great way to get to know someone and start a conversation. Since all sales come down to the amount of conversations you have, it actually has really helped my sales. Plus, it's unique and helps me stand out in a crowd.
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