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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Unbanked, underbanked - untapped

News

Industry Update

HR 5546, the downside

Uncle Sam to get slice of payments pie

Private equity giant going public

MWAA meeting goes the distance

PCI on the menu

Scott Henry
VeriFone

Three-step systemization

Biff Matthews
CardWare International

Features

The consulting guru that could

Industry Leader

Linda Perry –
Unfettered spirit, extraordinary success

Views

PCI on the menu

Scott Henry
VeriFone

Three-step systemization

Biff Matthews
CardWare International

Education

Street SmartsSM:
To Capitol Hill we go

Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services

Becoming registered

Adam Atlas
Attorney at Law

Check processing diversification: Hop aboard

Christian Murray
Global eTelecom Inc.

Invest in trust

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Web site optimization: A route to talent

Curt Hensley
CSH Consulting

Lead with communication

Daniel Wadleigh
Marketing Consultant

Company Profile

GreenSoft Solutions Inc.

New Products

Keep alert with merchant accounts

MercuryAlerts
Mercury Payment Systems LLC

Turbo charge PCI compliance

TurboPCI
TurboPCI Inc.

Inspiration

For better or worse

Miscellaneous

POScript

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 11, 2008  •  Issue 08:08:01

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Lead with communication

By Daniel Wadleigh

Research indicates businesses will lose almost 20 percent of their customers over time. Roughly 3 percent will pass away, 6 percent will relocate and 10 percent will be lured away by the competition.

Of the 10 percent who bail, 93 percent won't even tell you.

What this means for you, as ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), is you must devise business strategies that will not only maintain existing customer relationships but will also continually replenish your merchant base.

The solution? Open lines of communication between you and individuals in your target market are essential in gaining and retaining business. And employing tried-and-true techniques can help you in this regard.

If you think communicating with leads means only sending out newsletters or making phone calls monthly to ask if merchants are ready to select you as their merchant services provider, you are shortchanging yourself - short- and long-term.

Instead, make every effort to become a fixture in merchants' day-to-day activities; otherwise they will go elsewhere for processing.

Go fishing

You must ask merchants three important questions:

  1. What's going on with your customers?

  2. What do your customers want in the way of products and services?

  3. When will you be ready to buy processing?

Once those questions are answered, dive into the marketing strategies best suited to each particular merchant.

Bait the rod

People love getting stuff for free, or at a discount, so entice current and potential customers by sending coupons that double as surveys. In this form of marketing, retailers receive a discount and, in return, ISOs and MLSs receive valuable information about their businesses - data you can use in gaining and retaining valuable processing contracts.

Squeezed for time or money? Try a market research questionnaire. To lure customers, offer discounts to be redeemed once questionnaires are filled out and returned.

Tie in useful rewards such as free auto-responder reports or other added values to keep merchants engaged and interested in your propositions.

Begin greetings to leads with a few sentences along these lines:

Dear (insert customer name),

We need your help with an extremely important detail about (insert the issue you're concerned with). If you can provide some information, we will reward you with a free (insert product or service you intend to use as a reward).

In whatever form you deliver questionnaires - electronic or hard copy - 80 percent of your message should contain information that will be of use to the recipients, with the remaining 20 percent devoted to the freebie or discount being offered.

And don't use this tool to try to close sales; it makes merchants wary of your motives and puts you in a bad light.

Another sound tactic is to call on potential clients. Instead of cold calling, think of it as happy calling. This communication method is the most productive because, more often than not, it tells merchants their business is important to you.

You can't always visit your merchants, so phone calls are the next best thing. An empathetic voice could be the difference between a new customer and one who runs off to the competition. Pairing the happy call technique with postcards or e-mails is a winning combination.

Reel 'em in

Once communication pathways are open, work diligently to keep them that way. Whatever mode of communication works best, make sure the questions you ask merchants return the most effective responses.

Don't ask questions that result in only yes or no answers. Instead, encourage merchants to express their opinions fully.

This will show customers old and new that they are valued partners, as well as give you valuable insights into merchants' business operations.

Ongoing communication will dissolve any suspicion merchants may feel toward you and strengthen customer loyalty in the long run.

The result will be increased acquisition and decreased attrition in your merchant portfolio, which means a more secure future for you.

Daniel Wadleigh is a veteran marketing consultant in the payments industry. He offers an educational program that is available on a PowerPoint presentation and designed to help ISOs elevate themselves above the competition. For more information, contact Daniel at 512-803-0956.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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Spotlight Innovators:

North American Bancard | USAePay | Super G Capital LLC | Humboldt Merchant Services | Impact Paysystems | Electronic Merchant Systems