By John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC
Editor's Note: It is with much appreciation that we bid farewell to John Tucker, who has done a stellar job as Street SmartsSM author for the past year. He had clear objectives from the start: to offer a number of realistic ways in which merchant level salespeople (MLSs) can rebrand for enhanced success in today's increasingly complex payments world, and to broach subjects of importance to MLSs that might be uncomfortable to examine or otherwise all too easy to overlook. He met his goals, never missed a deadline and had a good time interacting with members of GS Online's MLS Forum in the process. We will miss him and wish him well. Next month, our new Street SmartsSM author – Aaron Nasseh, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Finical Inc. – will take the helm, committed to authoring this column for the next year. We are thrilled to welcome Aaron aboard. He has previously penned articles for our Education section on such topics as how to choose the right sales model; manage your ISO during the first year; work less and improve your bottom line; combat attrition; hire sales professionals, not consultants; and select the right ISO partner. Curious? You'll find links to those articles here: www.greensheet.com/search.php?flag=bylineDetail&byline=Aaron+Nasseh.
What a time I've had being your Street SmartsSM quarterback since April of 2016. I always referred to myself as your quarterback because I believe the Street SmartsSM column is a collaborative, team effort of contributors and veterans within the industry who come together to discuss and debate important themes centered on making our space better.
As quarterback, I got to follow in the footsteps of some of the most dynamic players in the history of our industry, such as Ed Freedman, who founded Total Merchant Services; Mike Nardy, who founded Electronic Payments Inc.; as well as Ben Abel, Jason and Kelley Felts, Jeff Fortney, Amy Garvey, Kathy Harper, Dee Karawadra, Vanessa Lang, Dale S. Laszig, Ken Musante, Jon Perry, Bill Pirtle, Ty Rosean, Steve Schwimmer, Jeffrey I. Shavitz, and Tom Waters.
The honor and prestige bestowed upon me as your Street SmartsSM quarterback was heart-warming, and I will forever be grateful to have contributed to the centerpiece of this great publication, which has been serving the industry's feet on the street for more than 30 years.
As you all know, my theme since I began this assignment has been about rebranding the merchant level salesperson (MLS) to lead in with other solutions for prospective clients, rather than leading in with the same merchant processing-related rate savings or free terminal programs. To that end, I offered several options, including rebranding to lead in with:
In addition, I also provided commentary on a number of important topics, including:
While I covered a significant amount of material over 24 issues in the past 12 months, there's still a lot more material I could cover. However, unfortunately, I've run out of time as your quarterback. But before I go, I want to offer you one final rebranding option.
As you know, I have stated many times that I believe directly leading in with merchant processing is no longer viable due to the low barrier to entry into our space, which has created substantial overcrowding, as well as the Internet, which provides merchants easy access to information on interchange and the actual value of a terminal (which typically is $350 at best).
These two phenomena have done nothing but diminish the worth of the MLS's knowledge, an asset that was once considered to be valuable due to its scarcity.
While over the past year I have tried to bring solutions to the table that you could use as a lead-in that tied merchant processing to the sales implementation on the back-end, my final rebranding option is to leave the space altogether.
The reality going forward is that merchant processing will become even more of a commodity, which is a service shopped exclusively on price that is basically interchangeable with other commodities of the same type. Merchants will become even more knowledgeable about interchange and how different pricing structures work, causing more pricing pressures to the point where it will become even more difficult to sustain a living as an MLS.
With that being said, have you considered sales positions that are completely outside of the payments space? If you have succeeded in this industry for some time now, there are many attractive options to consider in other types of financial services, as well as sales positions in the fields of technology, insurance, health care, real estate, manufacturing, and business-to-consumer products and services, among a host of other options.
No matter what you do going forward, whether it's rebranding to lead in with one of the solutions I've covered or rebranding by choosing another sales career altogether, always remember the words of Senator Bill Bradley: "It will be ambition that will be the path to success, but persistence is the vehicle you arrive in." Keep running, keep fighting, keep innovating, keep closing, and keep your tenacity.
Making a living in sales can be likened to taking care of a child with special needs: it's often extremely difficult to manage, but there's no greater reward than the joy you receive from seeing the progress made as a direct result of your hours of labor and dedication.
Most of the time sales professionals are underappreciated, underpaid, undersupported and misunderstood, but despite this less than optimal situation, I believe ours is one of the most important professions around. We are the ones who are responsible for introducing and implementing complex solutions into the marketplace, helping others comprehend today's multifaceted business landscape, and helping to maintain long-term value in the marketplace. This helps create and sustain revenues and profits, as well as jobs. So, sales guys and gals, here's a toast to your continued success. Keep giving 'em hell, kid.
John Tucker has over 10 years of professional experience in commercial finance and business development. He is also an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in accounting, business management and journalism. To connect with John, please send him a connection invite via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/johntucker99 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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