The Green Sheet Online Edition
July 10, 2017 • Issue 17:07:01
Successfully recruiting experienced agents
When I started my career in the payments space over a decade ago, I started as an agent/ISO recruiter. Within a few years, my colleagues and I were procuring 4,000 new applications per month from our recruiting efforts. Although my responsibilities have changed since that time, I am still very much involved in the recruiting efforts for my own company today. In this article, I will share tips that may help you with your efforts in recruiting qualified merchant level salespeople (MLSs).
There are many ways to recruit experienced agents; your methods will partly depend on your budget. Common methods include online marketing, social media engagement, placing ads in respected trade magazine such as The Green Sheet, attending tradeshows, and conducting email campaigns.
However, having consulted with a number of ISOs, I've noticed that many ISOs run pricing-focused marketing when seeking new MLS relationships. Sure, pricing is critical to potential agent partners, but the reality is that I can pick up the phone and call five ISOs and receive just about the same proposal from most, if not all of them. To successfully recruit experienced MLSs, you must offer more than just competitive pricing.
I've found that the top three determining factors for an agent seeking a new relationship are pricing, service and technology.
- Pricing: Yes, pricing is important, because to be competitive in today's marketplace, MLSs must have aggressive pricing. And if they have sales teams under them, they want to be able to offer competitive pricing to their sub-agents while retaining good profitability for their own sales office. However, as previously mentioned, pricing by itself is no longer the deciding factor since obtaining competitive pricing from ISOs is easier today than ever before. Very seldom do profitable, experienced MLSs switch relationships over a few extra dollars. As long as you are able to offer competitive pricing, your focus should be on service and technology.
- Service: When pricing is not an issue, what differentiates your ISO from another is the level of service and technology that you offer to a potential sales office. More agents leave relationships due to servicing issues than pricing. Sometimes it's simply because they're not able to receive adequate support from their relationship manager, their customers are experiencing ongoing support issues, or they have other concerns about the level of service. In short, they don't feel that their ISO partners value their business. Remember, while MLSs can clearly see the pricing you offer by reviewing the agreements you present to them, they have no way of knowing what added services your company provides to their agents, so sell them on what makes your services stand out.
- Technology: Most successful MLSs appreciate the role technology plays in our ever changing industry; they recognize that new technology brings with it new selling opportunities – whether it's the latest POS system, mobile technology, gateway, smart terminal, online merchant tools, or a better agent back office to help them better manage their office and their sales team. These are just some of the items you should have in your arsenal if you want to be successful at recruiting experienced agents. They are always seeking ways to run their businesses more efficiently; any technological advantages you bring to the table will be beneficial.
While recruiting experienced MLSs is far more competitive than ever before, it can be a very profitable part of your business if done correctly. Considering that the first impression an agent forms about your organization is based on the initial phone call, it's imperative that you have experienced recruiters handling those calls. Many recruiters focus so much on pricing that they fail to ask the most basic question of potential agents, which is: Why are you seeking a new relationship? The answer will often provide everything you need to successfully address the concerns of the agent and form a new relationship.
A good recruiter knows that not all agents have the same needs. I can't tell you how many times I have signed up agents at less favorable pricing than they previously had simply because my company was able to address their servicing needs. Those MLSs valued quality of service more so than a few extra bucks. A good recruiter helps agents assess the overall value of the partnership, not just the numbers on the paper.
If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be to listen, understand and address the needs of potential agents, and you will sign up more partnerships than you ever could by discussing pricing.
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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