The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 10, 2015 • Issue 15:08:01
How can I grow my business?
Having had the opportunity to work with thousands of entrepreneurial salespeople and to interact with many business owners during my career, I am being asked more frequently by business owners, salespeople and entrepreneurs, How can I grow my business? It's a pretty simple question. However, the answer is incredibly complex and, unfortunately, there is no single correct answer, nor is there a one-size-fits-all formula.
By reading The Green Sheet, you are helping yourself thrive as a sales professional in a fascinating industry. You have an understanding of interchange; the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard; EMV, short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa (this should be a fun conversation to have with merchants by the October implementation deadline; I'm kidding, of course); POS hardware and software; and more. But how do you grow your merchant applications as a merchant level salesperson (MLS) from a few deals per month to 20 per month – and, as an ISO owner, to hundreds of deals per month, if not thousands?
Working solo versus developing a team
Let's review some possible scenarios to help you reach a decision that is right for you. We all have the same amount of time in a day, but it seems like some of us get more done in 24 hours than others. For the sake of this discussion and assuming you are working diligently 40 hours per week, how do you grow and – a very interesting question – do you want to grow?
I don't suggest the latter question sarcastically. I have spoken with many of our sales partners who have told me they are happy doing their six to 12 deals per month, working a casual week and enjoying their quality of life. Conversely, I work with other MLSs and ISO groups that can taste getting to 100 deals per month and will not rest until their plan for this goal is achieved.
In my opinion, when selling conventionally, one great salesperson is going to max out with writing and submitting from 20 to 30 deals per month. If you are doing more than this every month, I applaud you. However, many individual MLSs aspire to having an office and replicating their production by developing a team of sub-agents.
Evaluating potential agents
What should you look for when "hiring" new MLSs to join your team? First, there are certain factors to consider – again, there are no right or wrong answers.
Do you hire agents with or without industry experience? If you are reading The Green Sheet, you have industry knowledge – but many potential agents or referral partners you evaluate may have never been exposed to our industry. We meet such individuals from all walks of life. They have a blank slate for ease of learning our methods, and the most important attribute to seek is a strong work ethic, desire to learn and fear of nothing.
Some people have bad habits and have sold the same way for the past decade. In every industry, we all must adapt and, as Darwin said, "It's survival of the fittest." We must all stay up to date with current trends and industry applications and keep pushing forward, or we're going to lose merchant customers, as well as opportunities to work with newer, savvier credit card salespeople.
Be selective about which MLSs represent you. Why? We, like all ISOs and processors, have brand equity to protect and want to work with people, whether independent contractors or W-2 employees, who portray our companies in the right light.
Enjoying the process
Following are four additional tips to help you grow your business in a way that serves you best:
- Have fun with it: Of course, work is work, but it's a mindset and skill to make your "opportunity" (not your job) fun. Words are powerful, and I have a real distaste for MLSs when they say their job is selling merchant services. A job is a dead-end. We are so fortunate to be in this industry, where we truly have a real upside on earnings potential. I am not naïve. I sign our agents' paychecks and realize that most people are average and earn an average wage. However, we have superstars in our organization who are earning real power money, and it's because of their work ethic and their "fun" approach to the business.
- Shift your perspective: As salespeople, we think we always need to be selling. Stop selling and, instead, think of yourself as sharing your passion with a prospective merchant. By shifting your perspective to sharing valuable information, you are no longer convincing someone to buy from you, and the entire process becomes that much easier.
- Keep track of your successes: I find all Type A personalities (and I'm assuming many of you are if you are involved in selling in this industry) routinely fail to take time to enjoy their successes. When winning a large merchant account, for example, instead of moving straight to the next prospect, take a moment in your day to congratulate yourself. A success journal, whether written or mental, will help you stay aware of how much you are doing right.
- Stay focused on your desired outcome: As I wrote in "How to grow your merchant portfolio," The Green Sheet, Nov. 23, 2009, issue 09:11:02, "Plan your work and work your plan." When speaking with a prospective agent to join your organization, ask what the individual's goals are to make sure you are in balance with each other. In my ISO, one agent who 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 people? If not, I advise you to set up individual meetings with your staff and ask them what their goals are. It's as simple as that.
Growing your sales office is both exciting and challenging. Remember, the most important decision is to clarify whether you want to continue as an independent salesperson, join forces with a partner, and/or build a full-fledged sales office. All answers are appropriate – just make sure that you have a focus, and plan for whichever direction you go. Good luck!
Jeffrey I. Shavitz is Chief Executive Officer of TrafficJamming LLC, which is a virtual business group for entrepreneurs and small business owners to help grow a company’s sales (traffic = customers in his language). His experience in payments includes co-founding Charge Card Systems Inc., which was sold to Card Connect in 2012; Alternative Merchant Processing, dedicated to high-risk merchant processing; and Charge Card Funding, involved in the cash advance space. Jeff has published three books: Size Doesn't Matter - Why Small Business is Big Business; Small Business Aha Messages; and The Power of Residual Income – You Can Bank on It! He can be contacted at 800-878-4100 or firstname.lastname@example.org; his websites are www.jeffshavitz.com and www.trafficjamming.com.
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