By Aaron Nasseh
As an independent sales agent or merchant level salesperson (MLS), you have the ability to choose which ISO to partner with. And in today's market, you are in a very good position, because dozens of ISOs compete for your business. Over the years, I have met thousands of wonderful sales agents who have worked with various ISO partners. I have also had the privilege of working with many ISOs throughout the industry, both as an executive and as an MLS.
Unfortunately, during the same period, I have also heard and witnessed countless horror stories about sales agents losing their residuals; however, in spite of widespread awareness of this unfortunate reality, I am still amazed at how quickly some MLSs will execute an agent agreement with an ISO just based on the compensation plan that they are being offered, and prior to knowing much about the ISO, or worse, prior to having the agreement reviewed by a competent attorney.
I believe that while the nature of our industry attracts some less than ethical characters, the vast majority of salespeople who work within our industry are honest, hard working individuals with good intentions. This is why they assume that the ISOs whom they are partnering with have the same intentions. I have seen enough of these incidents in my career to report to you that it doesn't always work this way. While in our industry there are many good ISOs, unfortunately, there are also some with less than ethical management. If you are serious about your career in the merchant services industry, it is imperative that you protect your future income by vetting any potential ISO partner. After all, you are in this business for residual income, so you must choose your ISO partner wisely. The good news is that it's not as daunting a task as it may seem; it just takes some effort on your part and good judgment.
Here are five simple tips to keep in mind:
If the company is public, be sure to review its financials. You will be surprised to learn that some of the largest ISOs in our industry are deeply in debt and are financially unstable. Also, be sure to review any past or pending lawsuits against the company. This usually provides you with a quick peek inside the company.
As author of Street SmartsSM this year, Aaron Nasseh is using the moniker "Street Smarts" in GS Online's MLS Forum. Within the forum, he will be seeking input about issues of concern to the payments community throughout the year. When this issue went to press, MLS Forum members were responding to his question about cash discount programs. They discussed such questions as: What's the difference between surcharging and a cash discount, how do these programs work, and are they legal?
You can add your voice to the discussion thread titled "Cash discount program!" at www.greensheet.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=43542. If you aren't a member of the Forum, follow a quick registration process by clicking on the login link in the upper right-hand corner of our home page, www.greensheet.com.
You can also contact Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org with your responses to questions he poses or with ideas for future discussions.
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 email@example.com or at 818-330-4055.
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