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The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 13, 2024 • Issue 24:05:01

Best-selling business strategies – Part 1: In-person selling

By Allen Kopelman
Nationwide Payment Systems Inc.

Remember the early days of merchant services, when merchant level salespeople (MLSs) convinced customers to stop taking paper receipts to the bank? And then, after convincing merchants that paper was bad and electronic authorizations were good, we'd whip out a giant paper contract with white, yellow, light green and pink copies and tell them to press down hard. It's a wonder that anyone listened to us in those days.

Even MLSs who are new to this business have seen plenty of changes, but fundamental selling basics have stood the test of time. If you're serious about building a book of business, you need to balance time-honored conventions of selling with cutting-edge technology.

This four-part series will explore how the business is changing and how we can keep our competitive edge. Part 1 will explore in-person selling; Part 2 will deal with having an online presence. Parts 3 and 4 will examine new approaches to selling, including new value-added solutions that can help create stickiness in your merchant relationships.  

Adapt or fade away

In this tech-driven space, our biggest competitors are no longer each other, but Square, Stripe, PayPal, Intuit or basically any company that offers a platform where merchants can sign up online and immediately begin to accept credit cards. These platforms are a real and present danger and growing in number.

In this climate, what you did 20 years ago and even five years ago will not work. MLSs are finding out that merchants are locked into solutions. A lot of systems that used to be processor-agnostic are now proprietary POS platforms. Cloud-based systems, when acquired by larger ISOs or ISVs, are simply pointed to a different processor through a payment gateway, leaving the original ISO and MLS behind.

True cost of free

Merchants don't always understand that free terminals and integrated solutions are only free while they are using the service. A merchant who is no longer processing with us called me the other day, wanting to know why he is still getting billed for the equipment. I had to explain that the equipment was free for as long as he processed with us and needed to be returned.

MLSs don't always understand that it takes more than a shiny brick or virtual POS terminal to attract merchant customers and sales channel partners these days. The game has changed. We can no longer hit three buttons and reprogram a terminal. The days of selling simple equipment and applications are over. ISOs and MLSs need to reach a younger demographic by marketing holistic solutions that are customized for different businesses and industries.

Stepping out

News flash: the pandemic is over; stop hiding behind a screen. Merchant services is a relationship business, and there is no substitute for getting into the community, meeting people and networking with fellow business professionals. Here are some examples of in-person activities that can boost your credibility and sales ratio:

  • Door-to-door selling: Contrary to popular belief, door-to-door selling is still happening, particularly in suburban areas, resort towns that cater to tourists, and established communities that small businesses have served for decades. Business owners in these environments tend to buy from other community members and people they trust.
  • Professional networking groups: Attending networking meetings offered by professional organizations may seem like a big commitment, but these networking groups, such as BNI, SBA, national association and local community chapter gatherings and happy hours, are a great way to meet people who can introduce you to business owners.
  • Chambers of commerce: Meeting people at your local chamber of commerce is a great way to meet business owners and make yourself known in the local business community. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports large and small businesses around the country and has been a strong business advocate for policies that help businesses grow. For more information, visit www.uschamber.com/.
  • Networking events: Professional networking events are plentiful, and many of them are free to attend. Check out Meetup groups, Eventbrite and local listings in your community. Consider starting your own networking group, too. I have a friend who joined a group of vendors, all targeting restaurants but offering different services. They exchanged leads at weekly breakfast meetings and kept each other apprised of new businesses opportunities in the community.
  • Tradeshows: While some people may disagree, I'm a staunch believer in tradeshows because people go there to network and see what is new and exciting in an industry. If you plan to exhibit, you'll need to have a great product and service to sell. No one is looking for a generic POS system or terminal anymore. Merchants and service providers have become more knowledgeable and sophisticated. I've noticed that attendance has fallen off at tradeshows lately, compared to several years ago. This may be because so many businesses are understaffed and do not have time to go to these shows.

Before you head out the door, keep in mind that not every part of the country is the same; what works in Peoria may not bring success in Cedar Rapids. As you get out and meet more people, you'll figure out what works in your area. And I guarantee it will be more fun than smiling and dialing at home. end of article

Allen Kopelman, a serial entrepreneur is cofounder and CEO of Nationwide Payment Systems Inc. and host of B2B Vault: The Biz to Biz podcast. Email him at allen@npsbank.com and connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/allenkopelman/ and Twitter @AllenKopelman

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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