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The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 12, 2019 • Issue 19:08:01

Street SmartsSM

How to sell in today's environment

By Dee and Emily Karawadra
Impact PaySystem

The payments market today is vastly different than when we got started 19 years ago. Life was simple back then. We had three-tiered pricing, only four terminals to choose from (Verifone Tranz 330 and 360, Hypercom T7, and Nurit 2085), and a short selling cycle. The concept of credit cards was still new to many business owners. We spent more time overcoming objections to accepting credit cards than discussing cost and equipment. It wasn't long, however, before card acceptance became a need, and businesses sought us out. Not any longer.   Why was the sales cycle so short 19 years ago? We only had to memorize rates for qualification, mid-qualification and non-qualification statement fees and batch fees. We could provide a quote within minutes of looking at a statement. All other rates were hard-coded in the three-part, carbonless application.

There were no integrations or POS systems to worry about. The ecommerce business was in its infancy. All we had was MO/TO (mail order/telephone order). Today, paying with your phone is a reality. Back then, I was lucky to have 90 minutes of airtime a month on my Nokia phone plan. Today MLS must be well-diversified in their product knowledge and offerings. The shift in focus from payment processing alone to products small businesses need and want helps solidify long-term business relationships, lowering attrition.

Today an MLS has to contend with thousands of competitors in addition to the evolution of payments and interchange. The conversation is much more complicated today than previously. We are juggling communication methods, terminal encryption, EMV, POS systems and more. The sales cycle is longer, but can be shortened with the right knowledge and approach.

Five products with big rewards

All merchant level salespeople (MLSs) must master the following five product areas and turn their expertise into a versatile sales tool:

  1. POS systems: POS systems used to be only for large enterprises, not mom-and-pop businesses. Technology has made it affordable to bring POS systems to the mom and pop markets. Knowing your own POS system is a must, but you also need to know your competition. For example, you will need to know whether a given POS system communicates to the processor through a gateway or direct integration, for example. Research online. Call the system's technical support team to see if it works with multiple processors.
  2. Marketplace shopping: Marketplaces are allowing small merchants to have a wider audience. So many marketplaces exist nowadays. From Etsy to Shopify, they are selling merchant services as part of their bundled pricing ‒ but there are ways around this. For example, Shopify allows other processors, with an added 50 to 200 basis points (BPS) (www.shopify.com/pricing). In many cases, it's worth paying the extra BPS.
  3. E-wallets: When Apple launched Apple Pay, the merchant services industry got a little nervous. Apple Pay was seen as just another transaction. E-wallets are becoming popular due to the safety they provide to transactions. Apple Pay, Pay Pal and Google Wallet are all e-wallets. Is your processor able to accept these types of transactions? Even if the merchant does not promote it, having this option opens dialog with a merchant.
  4. EMV acceptance: Do you ever walk into a store and the chip reader is taped up? That is a perfect conversation starter. Use it to segue into a consultative sale. Explain why EMV is so important. Maybe the merchant's current processor merely glossed over it.
  5. Cash discount/surcharge programs: The cash discount/surcharge is becoming more and more mainstream. The card brands have begun setting guidelines, and many processors are rolling out their own fully compliant programs. Such programs are perfect for certain merchant types, including automotive repair shops and dry cleaners. The BPS return on this model is huge. But make sure you present it to the right type of merchants.

Whatever sales opportunities you pursue, have a solution for these five product areas, and know your solutions inside out. If your ISO doesn't have a robust product, diversify your portfolio, and look for solutions that will help you close more deals. Solutions are proliferating in today's environment.

We, at Impact, grew tired of competing against a well-known POS system from a specific processor. We ended up forging a relationship with that processor to accommodate the need for this popular POS system. It has been opening up doors for us in markets like restaurants and certain retail businesses.

In addition, two of our processors are introducing their own cash advance/surcharge programs that we plan to offer to our merchants. We cannot emphasize enough that focusing on products that provide valuable benefits to small businesses helps solidify long-term business relationships and lowers attrition.

The payments industry is always evolving, and MLSs must remain on technology's cutting edge. The ability to walk into any merchant and have a solution for them regardless of their terminal or POS system is a game changer. Being well versed in several platforms offers versatility and can ensure higher closing rates. This opens doors and helps drive conversations away from price and toward products and services. Educate merchants, and use the tools available to close those deals. Safari Njema! end of article

Dee Karawadra is president and CEO of Impact PaySystem, and Emily Karawadra is the company's chief financial officer. Since 2001, Impact PaySystem has been a leading provider of payment processing technologies and services to merchants throughout the United States. Through alliances with payments industry leaders such as Chase Paymentech, First Data, Buypass, Sage and more, Impact PaySystem offers tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each merchant. Dee and Emily will welcome your questions and comments at dee@impactpays.com and emily@impactpays.com, respectively.

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.

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