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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 13, 2008 • Issue 08:10:01

Who moved my merchants?

By Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

In the book Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson wrote that change is inevitable And since change is the only constant, how we handle it defines the way change impacts our lives

He told the story of two mice and two little people in a maze. Every day, the mice would get up, put on their running shoes and search until they found cheese. When one supply ran out, they would simply find more cheese. The little people did the same.

One day, the four of them discovered what appeared to be an unlimited supply of cheese at Station C. The mice would rise every morning and head straight there, as would the little people.

Then the little people moved their homes closer to the cheese. They wrapped their lives around Station C. They thought they were set - permanently. They didn't notice the cheese was slowly being eaten up.

One day, they found all the cheese gone. The mice put on their shoes and did what mice do; they went in search of more cheese.

The little people spent days bemoaning that someone had taken their cheese and complaining about the unfairness of the situation.

Meanwhile, the mice discovered the largest supply of cheese ever found. The little people just sat, growing hungrier and more stressed. Finally, one little person realized that if they didn't move, they would die. He headed out into the unknown.

He was scared. He found a little cheese here and there but not the new supply he'd hoped for. Instead of turning back, he kept looking. And he realized very important lessons along the way, which he wrote on the maze's wall. Ultimately, he found the new, immense supply of cheese and hoped his friend would see his instructions and follow.

The lessons he learned apply to the payments world, for the world around us is changing every day:

  • Change happens.
  • Anticipate change.
  • Monitor change.
  • Adapt to change quickly.
  • Change yourself.
  • Enjoy change.
  • Be ready to enjoy this cycle again and again.

In the payments sphere, change is a constant. It is still a relatively new industry in comparison to others. Yet, the sales process is little different now than in the past.

If change is a constant, the sales process must adapt as well. In the past, those who anticipated change modified their sales practices. They stopped just asking for statements.

They sold multiple products, not just payment processing alone. They also saw more success at higher margins - and greater returns on their efforts.

Those who continue to be successful today constantly seek educational opportunities. They do not believe they know the only way to sell. They monitor how others sell and the overall marketplace.

As others follow their example, they see margin pressure, and they adapt - immediately. And, again, they change their approach. They target untapped industries and markets that seek better or faster solutions - and are willing to pay for it.

Additionally, they choose not to allow sales pressures to dictate margins. Rather than look back, they look ahead and see the possibilities. They see what they are doing now and enjoy it greatly.

Some experience a resurgence of energy comparable to when they started in the industry. The day starts brightly, no matter the weather. The word no does not affect their attitude.

Even so, they continue to gain industry knowledge. They are selective, understanding that too much complexity slow sales down. They find mentors. They know it's not important to know everything; it's only important to know how to find information when it's needed.

And every morning, they get up ready to change again. Oh, and these same people are the most successful in our industry. And their kind of success is what we all seek.

Yes, margins are squeezed. Merchants are savvier, and it seems there is more competition from nontraditional sources. The question is, Are you ready to change, or are you like the little person who just sat and asked, "Who moved my cheese?" end of article

Jeff Fortney is Director of Business Development with Clearent LLC. He has more than 12 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at jeff@clearent.com or 972-618-7340.

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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