By Christian Murray
Global eTelecom Inc.
Are you ready for the upcoming holiday season? If you have not yet contemplated your marketing and sales plans for promoting gift and loyalty during the 2008 season, it's time to take action. Offering these solutions on the front end of your sales initiatives can help close merchant accounts and accelerate end-of-year profits.
ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) who have not yet emphasized selling these products are missing out on a valuable opportunity. The holidays aren't the only time to focus on selling gift and loyalty programs, of course. But it can be easier to attract new accounts and generate card reorders at this time each year.
Here are some steps to help you move forward with gift and loyalty:
It may be time to re-evaluate current gift and loyalty offerings. And if you have not yet implemented a program or have not fully embraced these products within your sales channel, it might be time to get on the bandwagon. Either way, moving forward on this will ultimately improve sales and merchant retention.
Difficulty with third-party providers is something everyone wants to avoid. This could be a reason why gift and loyalty is a lower priority for some ISOs. Here are issues to consider before launching a new program or revamping an existing one:
All too often, ISOs and MLSs gravitate toward vendors that offer the lowest pricing. Initially, it is easier and less painful to offer something for free than to spend time educating MLSs on value added products. This mentality begins from the top down in an ISO.
Such organizations don't uncover and evaluate how each vendor might benefit both their merchants and their own overall sales operations.
While a bargain may have appeal, it may not be as flexible or feature-rich as a higher priced option that could be just what merchants seek in a gift and loyalty program.
Having a strong gift and loyalty offering is a major tool for the feet on the street; it also is the key ingredient in the longevity of residual streams. MLSs need to know this so they will be motivated to sell based on benefits, not price.
In many cases, gift and loyalty is not infused into the core of an ISO's service offerings, and very little product information gets absorbed by the sales team. Just choosing a vendor and pointing to the buy rates and application are not enough. Not taking these options seriously can undermine the ability and willingness of your sales team to see them as valuable sales opportunities and merchant retention tools.
Devote time to developing a marketing or sales strategy before launching a new program. If you already have a solution that has not yielded much activity, maybe this will also help give it a kick start.
Here are some ideas:
These are just a few of many marketing ideas that can help you gain momentum and increase sales. The vendor you work with should be able to offer even more.
If you haven't already begun, now is the time to begin this process. The holidays are fast approaching, and it's important to be able to provide gift and loyalty services to your new and existing merchant customers. Many merchants request these services and want to get set up before the rush.
So give your gift and loyalty program a boost for the approaching gift card season. Dust off the conference room chairs, and get to work. Start evaluating where you are and what steps need to be taken to maximize your sales efforts. Merchants everywhere are in need of solutions that can help them increase sales.
You may be surprised by how selling gift and loyalty can enhance your portfolio growth and residual streams if you truly embrace and focus on this valuable tool. Keep an open mind, and take action today.
Christian Murray is the Director of Business Development for Global eTelecom Inc. He has more than 12 years' experience within the payments industry. GETI provides check processing and gift and loyalty solutions. For more information, visit www.checktraining.com and www.giftcardtraining.com, or contact Christian directly at 877-454-3835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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