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Table of Contents

Lead Story

ISOs no longer need bank sponsorship in Europe: Are you ready to go?

Caroline Hometh
RocketPay LLC

News

Industry Update

Fitzsimmons leaves First Data for Cynergy Data

FBI warns banks of new cyber threat

InspirePay's new way to pay

Fiserv sues FIS over alleged patent infringement

Trade Association News

Features

An interview with Kevin Smith

Ken Musante
Eureka Payments LLC

The business of being social

Research Rundown

Meet The Expert: Alan Kleinman

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

Gift cards reinvigorate ATM channel

The slam dunk of stadium cards

David Parker
Polymath Consulting

Views

Prepaid opportunities ahead

Patti Murphy
ProScribes Inc.

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Hard lessons and easy pickings

Bill Pirtle
C3ET Credit Card Consortia for Education & Training Inc.

You're never too small for an HR department

Alan Kleinman
Meritus Payment Solutions

Durbin - the aftermath

Adam Moss and Jeffrey Shavitz
Charge Card Systems Inc.

Skimming through the holiday season

Nicholas Cucci
Network Merchants Inc.

Riding the POS life-cycle wave

Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.

Company Profile

Alpha Card Services Inc.

New Products

Next-gen reader expands mobile

ROAMpay G3X Swipe
ROAM Data Inc.

An open SDK for mobile payments

Pay Anywhere SDK
North American Bancard

Inspiration

Belief makes dollars and sense

Departments

10 Years ago in
The Green Sheet

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

Skyscraper Ad

The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 23, 2012  •  Issue 12:01:02

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Street SmartsSM

Hard lessons and easy pickings

By Bill Pirtle

I vetted a processing agent, at the request of an association president and colleague. The agent had called the association, claiming to own a processor and requesting the opportunity to present an "exceptional" rate. This association, like many merchants or organizations, receives at least one of these calls daily, and some receive quite a few more. I was brought in to evaluate the presentation and report back.

It turned out that the man was an agent (and a new one at that) for a processor and needed to have his manager at the meeting. When I arrived at the coffee shop, we began to chat, and he told me the reasons why his company was the "best," while trying to explain how credit card processing works. Once the manager arrived, he stated the name of the association's current processor and pointed out some issues with it.

The upshot of the meeting was that the agent, also known as a merchant level salesperson (MLS), made errors that doomed the presentation before it even began.

Three takeaways

Many MLSs say they "own their processor" when they actually mean they have created a company to work with the processor. Looking at LinkedIn profiles, you can find hundreds of agents who list themselves as presidents or owners of larger processors. This happens quite often, even though it makes agents look foolish.

A few lessons can be learned from my meeting.

Hunting for elephants or appetizers

At the coffee shop meeting, I was assigned to listen to the presentation, so the presenter's initial errors did not end the meeting. However, for many MLSs, these errors would have done just that.

One thing perplexed me about the agent - although I know all MLSs (yes, myself included) have done it. Why do newbies spend so much time and energy hunting elephants? Why do companies encourage agents to call large membership organizations when most MLSs will not even get in the door?

When I sold Aflac insurance, the training specifically encouraged agents to hunt "meal-sized" accounts. The philosophy was that it was much easier to land a small account with one call than to bring down the "elephant" that required management's help and multiple presentations, with low odds of ever closing the sale.

Getting started with startups, salons

Different agents have different targets when they enter the industry. About the easiest accounts to sign are startups. There is no current processor to replace, a little expertise can bring good value for both the agent and the prospect, and there is a sense of urgency on the part of the merchant to sign because they want to accept cards. With a monthly minimum, decent statement fee and gateway or terminal sales, an agent can make a little money.

Some MLSs like to focus on vertical markets and find a specific industry to specialize in. The benefit for agents is they become experts on those verticals. Becoming the "go-to" person for an industry means you can charge for your experience. (If you ever get the opportunity to hear Mary Winningham of Mirror Consulting Inc. discuss the topic of verticals, take it.)

Many new MLSs come to the GS Online MLS Forum to find information on verticals. Excerpts from one such inquiry appeared on page 5 of The Green Sheet, Jan. 23, 2012, issue 12:01:02, and is expanded here.

One tip for closing more salons would be to educate owners on the new Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements. Many salon owners are content to have a single processing account while leasing space to independent contractors and settling through the card processing.

However, what will result is an audit in which the 1099-K indicates the owner is earning everything going through the terminal and failing to report it. This can also result in fines from the IRS over whether the other stylists are employees of the salon or independent contractors. Separate merchant accounts and properly prepared leasing contracts will go a long way toward proving that there are no employee relationships.

The Orion 4Access was a remarkable terminal that housed up to 20 separate merchant identification numbers (MIDs), but 4Access Communications closed shop in January 2011. Research with your ISO or terminal supplier to determine the number of separate MIDs you can place on terminals.

You had me at yes

New MLSs hear advice from all sides, and much of it conflicts. Different ways will work for different agents, and some have found success using methods that did not work for me. One method many new agents fail to use works better than you may think.

It was reinforced when I landed some sought-after contributors for my upcoming book, Credit Card Processing for Sales Agents. I simply asked them to participate. It is that simple. Don't create reasons not to ask.

The only way to give merchants the opportunity to sign with you is to ask them to. A no makes you no worse off than if you don't ask. Failing to ask guarantees not getting a contract; asking gives you the opportunity. Hockey star Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100 percent of shots you never take." So ask yourself, "What is the worst that can happen?"

What you do today determines your tomorrow.

Bill Pirtle is the President of C3ET Credit Card Consortia for Education & Training Inc., a joint venture with Theodore Svoronos of Merchant University. Created to establish a comprehensive training program for ISOs and merchant level salespeople, C3ET is working with industry experts to produce a training guide to be published in early 2012. Bill's email address is billpirtle@yahoo.com. He welcomes all connections on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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

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