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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 26, 2022 • Issue 22:12:02

Street SmartsSM

The gift of giving back - Part 2

By Natasa Cvijanovic
Tesla Payments

This second installment of The Gift of Giving Back series continues with invaluable advice from some of the payments industry's most successful entrepreneurs. Who needs Santa when there are generous and giving members of the payments community and accomplished business leaders willing to provide their expert advice?

Whether you are just starting out in our industry, or you've been doing this for a while and are tired of trying to DIY your business with random advice found online and in social media groups and want to know where to put in the work to build your brand and grow your business, this article provides advice from the industry's powerhouse entrepreneurs.

From John McCormick

We start Part 2 of the series with John McCormick, who shares words of wisdom he learned from his father. He is a vice president of General Credit Forms Inc., and a member of the second generation of management for the McCormick Family of Businesses.

"There are several pieces of advice Dad has shared with me over the years, but two in particular always stick with me," McCormick said. "The first is with regards to a person's knowledge and comfort level when striking out on their own. As a young man, Dad told me he passed on some opportunities that would have found him better off than he is today, and many that would have bombed.

"In the end, it was important to look for an opportunity where he understood something about the underlying business. He had spent a decade in the paper business, and he felt comfortable that his knowledge of the paper business would translate to printing and converting. Start with your base knowledge, and look for opportunities that allow you to use and expand on what you know.

"The other is my personal favorite. When people would ask why he did things a certain way or made certain decisions, he would respond, 'I have to be able to sleep straight in bed at night.' It applies in all facets of a business, the way you treat your employees, the way you treat your vendors, and the way you treat your customers. It is important to always act within your ethical comfort zone, to treat others with respect, and to know at the end of the day that you acted in a fair and honest manner."

From Michael Baron

Next, we continue with more guidance from Michael Baron:

"Know your weaknesses and learn how to deal with them," Baron said. "Selling is tough. It comes with rejection and insecurity. Stay strong. If you are having a great day, then push your luck as far as it will take you. And, if you are having a crappy day, keep at it until you achieve success. When I used to shoot hoops with my son we would not quit until we got the shot we were trying to make. We never quit on a missed shot.

"Two final pointers. Align yourself with an organization that values you, your ability and supports what you bring to the organization. Secondly, listen. Most salespeople do not listen and miss what it is that their clients really want. Lastly, get out of bed in the morning!"

Baron has been in the industry for more than 30 years and represents several ISO organizations. He can be reached via email at mbaron954@gmail.com.

From Dee Karawadra

Dee Karawadra is undoubtedly a name familiar to Street SmartsSM readers. He wrote the column for the first time from April 2007 through March 2008, and again with his wife Emily Karawadra from April 2019 through March 2020. When asked for his advice, he said the following:

"Having been in this business for over 23+ years, I have had many great mentors and friends who helped guide us in this complex payments world. Here is my top advice:

"1. Grind on. Just like any other business, you are going to come to a point when you question yourself—a lot. Put your head down and grind on. It's a season, and it passes. Stay focused on the prize, and as my mentor would say,]put your head down and keep grinding.'

"2. Find a partner with good solutions, great service and that is ethical. And when you do, know how rare it is, and hold on to them! The right partner will help you grow. You need a great partner, so you can focus on acquiring accounts, and trust that your partner will take care of your merchants. Your time should be spent more on selling and less on operations and support.

"3. Find a niche and get to know it inside out. Become expert in it. When I started, I gravitated towards petro and lodging. I learned how petro works, found pump vendors who do the reprogramming, and created a list of referral sources. Find your niche and own it."

Dee Karawadra is president and CEO of Impact PaySystem. Since 2001, Impact PaySystem has been a leading provider of payment processing technologies and services to merchants throughout the United States. Dee can be reached at dee@impactpays.com.

From Hawkins Siemon

Next, are insights provided by industry veteran Hawkins Siemon.

"Sales Model? The best approach to selling is still going door to door and providing personal service to the merchant. Use your time and money to build long-term relationships with the merchants and ask for referrals. ISOs can entice you with leads; call centers will always try to sell you their leads. Unfortunately, nine times out of 10, these do not work out. If you want the best odds of success, get out there and do it yourself. It is not easy, but this is the biggest factor that separates successful partners from those who don't make it. 

"What should I be Selling? In our view the largest opportunity is dual pricing/cash discount. This pricing model has exploded in the last five years. The most talked about aspect is the residual profits being two to three times higher than standard pricing such as cost plus. However, equally as important is 90 percent of merchants stay on dual pricing/cash discount and never look back. Once they get that first bill and only have a $10 monthly fee and no processing fees, it's a great experience. Plus, now that they are no longer paying the fees, they are far less likely to leave you for another processor.

"Dual pricing/cash discount programs are a better fit for some merchants than others. Your ISO partner should be able to help guide you in which merchant types to target, provide scripting and marketing materials to help you. Dual pricing/cash discount is a big transition for the merchant. "It is essential to provide them with adequate training on how they present the program to their customers and their own employees. The first couple weeks are key to providing a lot of support and checking in. Good Selling!"

Hawkins Siemon is the CEO/founder of Elevate Payment Alliance. Elevate is an ISO founded on doing business the right way and building strong, long-lasting relationships. Contact him at hawkins@elevatepaymentalliance.com.

(Note: Good Selling!SM, mentioned by Hawkins Siemon above, is a service mark registered by Paul H. Green, founder of The Green Sheet Inc. and one of the first titans of the payments industry. His Good Selling!SM books have been inspirational to countless merchant level salespeople through the years. The first book in the series, initially published in 1999, is available in paperback format on Amazon at www.amazon.com/Good-Selling-Paul-H-Green/dp/0967094704.)

Keep going until you succeed

I appreciate the time and effort put in by our inspiring powerhouse entrepreneurs to share their pearls of wisdom with Street SmartsSM readers.

Choices are what separate the successful from the unsuccessful. You can't dream your way to success. Unless you take action, your dreams will remain just that: dreams. Plan, take action and keep going until you succeed.

May the new year bring you great success and make all of your goals, hustles and resolutions come to fruition. May this be the year you, too, graduate from "has potential" to "has become a powerhouse entrepreneur

Side Note:

In "The gift of giving back – Part 2," Natasa Cvijanovic wrote, "Unless you take action, your dreams will remain just that: dreams." For more insights on turning dreams into reality when transitioning to a new year, see these gems from our Street SmartsSM archives:

  • "What is your MAP for success?" by Marc Beauchamp, Dec. 28, 2020, issue 20:12:02
  • "How do you measure success?" by Steve Norell, Jan. 28, 2019, issue 12:01:02
  • "What makes an MLS valuable?" By Steven Feldshuh, Jan. 22, 2018, issue 18:01:02
  • "Spreading the word: Marketing tactics for the MLS," by Tom Waters and Ben Abel, Dec. 22, 2014, issue 14:12:02
  • 'What difference do you make?" by Dale S. Laszig, Jan. 13, 2014, issue 14:01:01
  • "Dreams fulfilled: Six easy steps," by Jason Felts, Dec. 22, 2008, issue 08:12:02.
  • "New year, new plan," by Dee Karawadra, Dec. 26, 2007, issue 07:12:02
end of article

Natasa Cvijanovic, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Payments and a member of the SEAA advisory committee, has a proven track record within the payments industry of cultivating successful relationships with ISOs, MLSs and strategic partners. In developing national sales channels, she provides training and coaching to sales partners to enable them to become better business partners and advocates for their merchants, and to assist them in building portfolios producing steady residual streams. She is also dedicated to consistently delivering high levels of professionalism, integrity, dependability and trustworthiness. Contact her at natasa@teslapayments.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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