By Marcelo Paladini
In this business, relationships are everything. As ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), you know building strong ties with your merchant base will keep business booming and enable you to add new clients to your portfolio.
You also know the importance of developing friendships and networking contacts in target industries to enlarge your sphere of potential clients.
Your external relationships - the strength of the bonds between you, your merchants, your industry and your community - are crucial to your professional success. But to go from great salesperson to all-around industry leader requires building internal relationships.
Your interactions with the people who work for and with you in every aspect of your business are what will ultimately mean the difference between failure and success.
The key to building a strong team is choosing the best players. And the only sure-fire way to assemble an all-star roster is to investigate your potential sales partners as carefully as merchants investigate ISOs.
In this series of columns, I will look at the components of a great payment processing team and highlight key features to look for as you build your own first-string lineup of business partners.
Your job is to sell merchants processing packages that include superior service and state-of-the-art technology.
Unless you carefully select partners that you know are capable of meeting or exceeding the expectations you set with customers, you'll spend more time dealing with cancellations than cashing residual checks.
Once the sale is finished, the hardest part of your work is done. You should be able to confidently refer new merchants to your network of support staff. But beware: The best closing in the world can be undone by something as simple as a terminal arriving a day late.
Deployment, a function you may take for granted, can be a make-or-break factor in merchant retention. Efficient, reliable distribution of equipment will keep merchants processing happily. Weak deployment can lead to your unemployment.
Whether it's sending a merchant the wrong terminal, failing to respond to customer issues in a timely manner, or shipping substandard equipment, the quickest way to lose income and residuals is for a member of your processing team to disappoint your merchants.
Want to avoid angry calls and lost business due to equipment distribution errors? Here are qualities to seek in a deployment partner:
Whether a merchant is looking for a state-of-the-art mobile terminal or a reliable, standard countertop model, equipment must be deployed quickly and to the merchant's specifications and expectations.
In every type of business, from restaurant to retail, time is money. Every hour spent without a functioning terminal is an hour of lost revenue for merchants and their ISOs. Don't let faulty deployment throw your money out the window. Insist on nothing less than timely delivery of every terminal.
Also, terminal deployment is the first real look a new merchant gets at the standard of service your company will provide. Efficient service will reinforce merchants' confidence in choosing you to handle their payment processing.
Slow or unresponsive deployment will make merchants uneasy about your company from the start. Set a high standard on the first day by working with a dependable deployment partner whose accuracy and speed you can rely on every day.
If deploying a terminal were simply a matter of packaging and shipping, anyone could do the job. But in the payment processing business, effective deployment requires much more than typical mailroom services. Does your deployment team understand the ins and outs of our complicated industry? Are all team members familiar with the technology, operation and maintenance of terminals?
Most importantly, can you trust them to treat your customers with the same high level of service with which you expect to be treated _ whether merchants need to reorder paper or upgrade to the hottest terminal available?
If you can confidently answer yes to all three of these questions, you have chosen a strong deployment partner. If you have to answer no to any of these questions, don't settle for substandard service. It's time to look for a new ISO.
Even in the best deployment departments, mistakes happen. Papers get lost. Terminals break. Packages go undelivered. Imperfection is an unfortunate fact of life.
The way your deployment team handles the inevitable business setbacks will distinguish an outstanding partner from a weak link in your team.
A mistake can either be a one-hour inconvenience or a relationship-destroying disaster. The difference is in your team's response. A great organization's deployment department addresses issues confidently, takes ownership of mistakes and moves on from a problem, armed with an intelligent strategy.
A weak ISO gets bogged down in finger-pointing and makes promises it cannot keep.
Don't get sidetracked by the blame game. Make sure your deployment team is able to bounce back quickly from errors and turn potential disasters into minor, correctable inconveniences. In other words, choose a partner that learns from mistakes and doesn't dwell on them.
Follow this advice, and you'll have a deployment partner whose services you can sell with confidence for the rest of your career.
Marcelo Paladini is the Chief Executive Officer for Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that distinguishes itself by relying on creativity and technology to maximize service. Cynergy offers its ISOs: Vimas, cutting edge back-office management software; Vimas Tracking, a ticketing system that makes responses to customers fast, accurate and efficient; Brand Central Station, a Web site of free marketing tools; plus state-of-the-art training, products, services and value-added programs, all designed to take its ISO partners way beyond their competitors. For more information on Cynergy, e-mail Mike Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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