By Aaron Nasseh
Editor's Note: In our March 27 issue, we published John Tucker's last article as the Street SmartsSM "quarterback," as he often described the role. We will miss having his unique voice in each issue, but we hope he will contribute further articles from time to time as compelling issues that capture his imagination arise. And with this issue, we are delighted to present Aaron Nasseh's inaugural article as Street SmartsSM author. A consummate salesperson and sales trainer who helms a dynamic and growing ISO, Nasseh is eager to share what he's learned about building a successful payment company, as well as share the wisdom of other payment pros in this column. He has said his business philosophy is built on three pillars: customer service, state-of-the-art technology and high ethical standards. We expect to hear more about such business building essentials as the coming year unfolds.
I am indeed honored and humbled to have been asked by The Green Sheet to serve as the writer for Street SmartsSM over the next twelve months. Like many of you, when I started my career in the payments industry, I turned to The Green Sheet to learn from my fellow colleagues who took the time to share their knowledge and expertise.
To this day, I still learn something new from every single issue of The Green Sheet, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank my immediate predecessor, John Tucker, and all of the other writers who have passionately shared their knowledge and experiences with the rest of the industry, both in this column and elsewhere in this publication.
Before I share with you my plans for the next 12 months, let me tell you a little bit about my background. I have been in the payments industry for over 10 years, and I have been in sales my entire career. I have sold everything from cell phones to real estate and everything in between; however, when I started in payments, I immediately knew I had found the perfect industry for me.
I began my payment career in business development, which was a fancy way of saying "agent/ISO recruiter." I was hired to start a recruiting division for a very large publicly traded ISO, which up to that point, had essentially built a burgeoning business through acquisitions. I hit the ground running, and with our team, built a substantial sales force and recruited some of the largest and best ISOs in the industry. It wasn't long before we were producing several thousand new accounts per month just through the agent/ISO channel.
The success in the business development role led to a promotion. In my new capacity as the General Manger, I was responsible for overseeing direct sales, outside sales, recruiting and the day-to-day operations of the company. While I definitely had my hands full in terms of responsibility, I was fortunate to have an excellent team working with me; together we more than doubled new account production within the first 12 months.
One year later, as the company continued to grow, I was fortunate to receive another promotion to Vice President of Sales. My responsibilities increased even more, and I was very much up to the challenge. However, my entrepreneurial ambition was growing louder and louder each day, and I knew it was time for me to leave and start my own ISO. Despite my employer's best efforts to retain me, I decided to set out on this new journey five years ago. It has been the most rewarding professional decision that I have made.
Building a successful ISO in today's competitive market is no easy task. Nevertheless, we have managed to build a successful ISO with more than 400 ISO partners throughout the country, and a number of acquisitions over the past few years, not to mention the countless lessons learned along the way.
Throughout my journey in this industry, I have made it my mission to learn something new every day. I have had the privilege of sitting on both sides of the table, both as a company executive as well as an ISO, and these experiences have enabled me to have a different perspective.
I have had to build a sales team from the ground up, recruited and trained literally thousands of merchant level salespeople (MLSs) in the industry, managed a large number of employees, participated in a number of acquisitions, and started an ISO with minimal initial investment. Now I manage a very efficient and highly profitable company that is growing every single quarter.
Now, enough about me: let's focus on the next 12 months. It is my goal over the next year to share as much of my experiences as I can with you, while also listening to you and learning from your experiences. We will cover topics that will enable you to run your business more efficiently, lower your attrition rate and restore profitability to your portfolio.
In our fast-changing industry, the same approach to sales that worked a year ago may not work today. I will help you to conduct an honest assessment of your sales approach to determine if you need to make changes. I certainly hope that you will also join me in a friendly dialogue in The Green Sheet's MLS Forum so that I can get a better idea about the topics you would like me to delve into here.
Aaron Nasseh is the founder and Chief Executive Officer at Finical Inc. His extensive sales and management experience includes having previously served as the General Manager of CardPayment Solutions and Vice President of Sales at iPayment Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 818-330-4055.
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