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December 11, 2017 • Issue 17:12:01

Adapt to changes step by step in 2018

By Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

As the end of 2017 rapidly approaches, I'm noticing two consistent themes in my conversations with ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs). First, many MLSs are taking a hard look at what went wrong this past year; second, many are looking for strategies that will help them leverage the changes taking place in the payments industry.

I didn't mention any form of celebratory conversations about what went right ‒ and much did. Although focusing on what went well would seem to be a worthwhile practice, it's not in the nature of salespeople to do so. Successful salespeople have an ingrained belief in the old adage, "always be selling." Sure, they celebrate a sale when it happens, but they are always on the lookout for the next sale.

Although we celebrate success, we also recognize that the value of the sale is in forming loyal, long-term relationships with our customers. This is how we can diligently protect our long-term revenue goals.

It seems every year at this time I talk to a number of ISOs and MLSs about the need to plan for the coming year. We talk through different approaches for the time of sale, as well as different markets to investigate. During one such conversation, I was asked, "With all that is going on in our industry, like company sales, changes in approaches, price increases and padded fees, how do we adapt?"

Over the past two years I have indirectly talked about adapting to the market. I have touched on addressing challenges and making plans to maximize sales efforts. I believe it's time now to directly discuss adapting to the changes we are facing ‒ and to plan accordingly.

Three essential steps

Adaptation is not done instantly; it requires taking one step at a time. Attempting to change completely overnight has the potential of costing you more money than you will gain in the long run. Here are suggestions to help you adapt to the changing marketplace faster.

  1. Examine your ISO/processing partner's goals and values: It's important to recognize that many companies that are major players in the payments industry and once had a strong focus on ISOs are now shifting priorities. One example of this is the emphasis on independent software vendor (ISV) relationships. Many recent acquisitions in our industry were fueled by the opportunity to leverage ISV capabilities, instead of focusing on strong ISO relationships.

    This may mean nothing, or it may mean a shift in how these companies support your sales efforts. Either way, don't be shy about asking questions if this has arisen with one of your partners.

    There are other examples (like padding fees and rate increases), but simply put, if you find a shift in their approach or support, you must determine its impact on you or your office. If a partner's goals have changed, and they don't coincide with your goals, shop for a partner that's a better fit.

  2. Adapt internally, then execute: It's tough to make any type of change. And if you see this as a call for change, you may unintentionally put up roadblocks. You have to adapt your mindset if you want to be successful.

    Before making any adaptations, ask yourself: Why do I need to do this, and will it increase my sales? and What's in it for me in the short and long term? Your answers will help you adapt your mindset.

    Maybe you recognize the need to increase your knowledge of various types of POS solutions. This is just knowledge, not adaptation. Adapting is recognizing that your offering is restrictive, or is limiting your opportunity when offering POS solutions. Once you recognize this, seek other POS options that address your merchants' needs and increase your sales.

    After gaining this knowledge, it's important that you don't fit a square peg (the merchant) into a round hole (the POS system). Instead adapt to find the POS solution that best fits the merchant.

  3. Recognize millennials: Many small business owners have little memory of a time when personal computers did not exist. They are fully invested in today's technological devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Thus, it is not a far stretch to understand why they would be more comfortable with a tablet or cloud-based POS solution than with a terminal.

    However, it's more important to first identify prospects' needs before drawing conclusions. Recognize a merchant's background, but don't push your POS solution, or anyone else's, until you ask questions. A merchant might have certain tendencies, but don't make assumptions beforehand about what is appropriate. It may be that a terminal is a perfect solution for a millennial merchant in terms of both cost and functionality.

Take these small steps as you start 2018. There will be more changes in store, and more adaptation will be needed. When disruptions inevitably come, you will find it easier to recognize and adapt. Then at the end of 2018, you will have several reasons to celebrate. end of article

Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at jeff@clearent.com or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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