By Jeff Fortney
When I first started in this business the term point of sale (POS) applied to the Zon Jr. XL. The concept of transactions running over the phone and depositing funds in merchants' accounts in three days was a significant step forward. Merchants didn't have to take paper to the bank and deposit it like checks. For the first few years, it seemed the POS terminal evolved every six months. The memory would expand, the details collected would become more complex, and the speed improved from between 7 and 10 seconds to 5 seconds (these were primarily dial connections).
This evolution continued from faster terminals to computer-based solutions that do more than just accept payments, handle checks or process gift cards. The POS is now a valuable tool for multiple functions outside of payment processing. Sure, payment processing is a component of the unit, but often not the primary use. Functions that were previously unaffordable for many merchants became cost effective with the advent of cloud-based and software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based processing.
To most of you, none of this is news. It's also not news that, as the millennials have become merchants, multifunctional POS solutions have become the rule, not the exception. For the merchant level salesperson (MLS), the sales process is now more complicated. It's no longer about processing alone. Merchants expect their POS systems to provide tools that help them expand their businesses through more efficient management of staff, tables, menus, scales and more.
In the past year, I have often heard a rhetorical question along the lines of: Do I need to become a specialist on all functions of a specific POS, and if so, which one should I choose? There is no simple answer to this. But an MLS can proactively take steps to address this concern – without having to master the workings of all POS functions. It starts by recognizing these key facts.
It is important to understand various POS solutions and include them in your marketing toolbox. These need to vary in cost, type and functionality. Don't sell a solution to a merchant, sell the one that fits the merchant's needs. If all you sell is the Rolls Royce of POS systems and a merchant needs only a Honda Civic, the odds are you won't get the sale. And you'll lose out on the residual income.
It's the merchant's needs, not what the POS system does that matters. Before offering any POS option, start by finding out what the merchant requires today, and what functions the merchant foresees needing soon.
Even the simplest POS system is an investment. It must serve the business's current needs but be able to expand for upcoming, near-term needs. By asking merchants what they foresee needing, you can identify appropriate choices, and let them choose the best solution. It may be a bicycle, a Honda Civic or a Rolls Royce, but let merchants make the choice.
Finding the right solution may require research on your part, and that takes time. And your time has a cost. Don't invest that time unless all other aspects of the sale are addressed. Has the prospect committed to all other parts of the sale, including processing costs and the costs of the POS? Ask this question during the conversation: If I am able to address your needs with the POS, are you in a position to move forward on the processing?
It is not necessary to be an expert on any of these solutions, but being able to explain them in layman's terms will help move a sale along. Just remember, don't sell only a square peg. And if merchants have needs not served by your options, don't walk away: conduct research instead.
Our industry has evolved and will continue to do so. Integrated payments and POS systems will evolve as well. By understanding these basic facts, you can be successful today and into the future.
Jeff Fortney is senior vice president of business development and partnerships for TouchSuite LLC, a fintech company providing POS systems, payment processing, SEO solutions, working capital and marketing services to small and midsize businesses. A long-time payments industry professional and mentor, Jeff focuses on strengthening and developing corporate partnerships and evaluating new business to drive strategic growth. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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