By Nancy Drexler
Most ISOs, acquirers and processors know their business is only as good as their feet on the street. Unfortunately, competing for qualified merchant level salespeople (MLSs) has led many businesses to become pathetic versions of auto salespeople: cooing promises, painting scenes of workplace paradise and running as many cheesy ads as the budget can handle.
The result is an industry inundated with MLSs who don't understand what they are selling and make false assurances to merchants. Then they disappear into other industries, leaving behind disillusioned, angry merchants who are crying for regulation.
We, as payments professionals, can begin to change this right now simply by understanding that recruiting is marketing. Recruiting good sales reps means understanding what kind of people will succeed in our industry and then finding them. You are targeting a select market. You are looking for qualified candidates to notice your opportunity, understand it and respond to it.
Recruiting is competitive. You have to be willing to invest money and time to find choice candidates. You have to identify the best places to reach these candidates and make your company and your message stand out.
Monster.com isn't the only bigwig in town. Here are alternatives to consider when advertising open positions:
Usually, the best MLSs will be inherently good networkers, and there are countless networking opportunities today that can help you find them. Online networking Web sites such as MySpace.com, Facebook and ClassmatesOnline.com are a few potential places to look.
Also, take advantage of your employees; they can be a great resource. Each one is connected in various ways to different groups of people, all of whom make up potential employee or referral groups. Current employees know the ins and outs of your business and what it takes to succeed.
This makes them best qualified to communicate this information to others. Make it rewarding for them to recruit other employees by offering incentives such as cash bonuses.
When I talk to sales offices about recruiting MLSs, most of them mention Monster as their top choice, followed by craigslist. Interestingly, although many companies have found Monster very helpful, there are quite a few who haven't received satisfying results from the employment search engine. How can Monster work so well for some and so poorly for others?
It isn't Monster that doesn't deliver results - it is your advertising. A good recruitment ad must:
Look at how your company presents open positions to internal and external candidates. Would you take this job? Would you want your spouse or child to take it? Do you sound like any insurance company or mortgage broker or, even worse, some kind of pyramid marketing scheme?
Look closely at your job description. Most ads are filled with nonsensical words that can be a complete turnoff for great candidates; they are written in stilted language that can confuse readers about what the company is looking for. Or, they overstate the obvious like, "good communication skills are crucial."
Have you ever seen a job description that asked for poor communication skills?
Good job descriptions showcase companies and the opportunities they present in ways that instill excitement. At the same time, they must be genuine. The better you understand your candidate pool and your ideal prospect, the better you will be able to write job descriptions that appeal to the applicants you want.
Remember, other recruiters are trying to reach the same people, and most candidates are seeing multiple job opportunities with little information about why they should work for one company instead of another.
Headlines for any type of advertisement should be attention-getting, create an interest in the opportunity and motivate the reader to act.
If the headline is clever, it will make your position stand out and provoke potential employees to read the body of the ad. The most effective way to grab your targets' attention is by getting them excited.
If you want candidates to apply in person, send r‚sum‚s, click on a link or send references, motivate them to do so. Create an immediate urge to act by appealing to emotions. Headlines that provoke feelings of curiosity, urgency or excitement get the best responses.
Carefully choose your headline's language. Your goal is to quickly grab attention and make people want to read more. The best headlines are short and direct; limit them to 10 words or less.
Once you've generated interest, describe the benefits of the position. People always want to know what's in it for them. Try to answer these questions:
Also, in a positive way, address the downsides of the open position. We all know that effective MLSs must be good at handling rejection, overcoming negativity and establishing relationships with busy people who brush them off at first. If there are quotas or costs involved, make that clear upfront rather than face a disheartened, angry MLS after two months of training on the job.
An online ad containing only three sentences and contact information is a complete waste. Your ad needs to provide concise, compelling information about the position and the opportunity.
However, don't write a novel. If readers find one thing that turns them off (which could be the fact that you talk too much), they're gone. Remember, you are describing an environment in which your candidate will spend a good deal of time. Forget about graphics; you don't need to make your ad fancy. The only eye-catcher you need is the headline. But please proof your ad carefully, and have someone else look over it, too. Typos, spelling errors and grammatical mistakes are unprofessional; candidates will question the viability of your company if your ad is riddled with mistakes.
The success of advertising is often a factor of repetition. Saying something once is not as powerful as saying it three or more times. Most advertising sites offer volume discounts; take advantage of these.
Think about forming an advertising co-operative. SignaPay Ltd., for instance, buys a variety of ad space in bulk and makes it available to our ISOs at the discount cost. (Their growth, after all, is ours.) They also let us know which ads have been most successful, and we share this information with our ISO partners. Lastly, we run our own national recruitment ads and pass on good candidates to the appropriate local ISOs.
Obviously, the more ads you run, the better your chance of success. But running more ads does not make up for running poor ads. Use marketing savvy to recruit MLSs, and your efforts will be much more fruitful.
Nancy Drexler is the Vice President, Marketing for SignaPay Ltd., an ISO headquartered in Dallas. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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