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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 12, 2010 • Issue 10:04:01

Grow your business by branching out

By Jeffrey Shavitz
Charge Card Systems Inc.

Having had the opportunity to work with thousands of entrepreneurial merchant level salespeople (MLSs) during my career, I am now being asked more frequently by our sales partners how they can grow their businesses.

It's a pretty simple question. However, the answer is incredibly complex and, unfortunately, there isn't one correct answer.

If you're new to the payments industry, you have chosen a fascinating field in which to be a sales professional. Education is important.

You must understand interchange, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, POS terminal types and so forth. But beyond that, how do you grow your merchant applications from a few deals per month to 20 per month and more?

Opening your own office

In my opinion, a top performing MLS maxes out at writing and submitting between 20 and 30 deals per month. If you are doing more than this every month, I applaud you. However, MLSs can increase sales by having an office and replicating their individual production by developing a team and hiring sub-agents.

So what should you look for when hiring new agents to join your team? Following are three factors to consider.

  • First, determine how important prior industry experience is in your hiring decisions. If you are reading The Green Sheet, you have industry knowledge. You may think this should be a prerequisite for the agents you hire. But many of Charge Card Systems' most successful sales partners came from outside of the industry and have been trained by CCS 100 percent.

    We hire individuals from all walks of life. They come with a blank slate and are fully open to learning and following our methods. But the most important attributes they all share are their work ethic, desire to learn and fearlessness.

  • Second, consider how much initial and ongoing training your agents will need. Some salespeople have developed bad habits and have sold the same way for the past decade. Like in every industry, we in payments must adapt by staying up-to-date with current trends and industry applications. We must keep pushing forward. Otherwise, we risk losing merchants and opportunities to newer, more savvy salespeople.

  • Third, be selective about which agents should represent your business. Like all ISOs and processors, you will have brand equity and want MLSs (whether 1099 independent contractors or W-2 employees) who portray your company in the right light.

Building a productive business

Below are ideas to keep in mind to establish a positive office culture that will lead to more sales and greater profits.

  • Have fun. Of course, work is work. But it's a mindset and skill to make your "opportunity" (as opposed to "job") fun. Words are very powerful, and I question any MLS when they say their job is selling merchant services. A job implies a dead-end.

    I am not na‹ve when I sign our agents' paychecks and realize that many of our MLSs earn what could be termed an "average" wage. However, we have superstars in our organization who earn real power-money, and it's because of their work ethic and their "fun" approach to the business.

  • Shift perspective. As salespeople, we think we always need to be selling. But that is not always the correct approach. Get out of that "always selling" mode and instead think of yourself as sharing your passion with prospective merchants.

    By shifting your perspective to sharing information, you are no longer convincing merchants to buy from you; instead, you are impressing them with your industry knowledge and competence, which leads to trust. When you develop trust with a merchant, the entire selling process becomes much easier.

  • Keep track of successes. I find that Type A personalities (and I'm assuming many of you are Type A if you are involved in selling in this industry) do not take time out to enjoy successes. When winning a large account, take a moment to congratulate yourself. A success journal will help you stay aware of how much you are doing right. (I can learn from myself in this regard, as I rarely do this.)

  • When speaking with prospective agents about joining your organization, ask them what their goals are to make sure you are in accord. An agent who recently joined our company stated that once his residual hit $7,500 per month, he planned to stop selling and only service his existing portfolio.

    I said, "I respect your goal and I'm happy that we both understand your future goals." As an employer, do you truly know the goals of your employees? If not, set up a meeting and ask them - it's as simple as that.

Knowing what you want

Opening one's own office is not for everyone. Many of our sales partners are happy doing six to 12 deals per month, working a casual week and enjoying their quality of life. Conversely, I work with other MLSs and ISOs that strive for 100 deals per month and will not rest until their goals are achieved. If you are in the latter category, opening your own office might be the answer.

Growing your sales office is both exciting and challenging. The most important decision you will make is to clearly determine whether you want to continue as an independent salesperson, join forces with a partner, build a full-fledged sales office or do a combination of those options. Everyone is different. There is no right answer. Just make sure you have a focus and plan for whichever direction you choose to go. end of article

Jeffrey Shavitz is one of the founders of Charge Card Systems Inc. He is also an active member of The Green Sheet Advisory Board and the First Data ISO Advisory Board. He can be reached at jshavitz@chargecardsystems.com or 800-878-4100. For additional information on CCS, please visit www.chargecardsystems.com/gsadvisoryboard or the company's corporate Web site at www.chargecardsystems.com.

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

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