By John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC
Our discussion on rebranding the merchant level salesperson (MLS) over the last couple of months has spotlighted the realities of today's increasingly complex marketplace for MLSs. The new challenges merchants face require in-depth analysis and higher levels of technical competence than ever before.
To address said challenges, MLSs must be able to design, prescribe, negotiate, implement and support highly complex solutions. On top of this, MLSs must do business in a more demanding arena, where marketing costs are skyrocketing and regulations are more burdensome.
That said, it seems strange to me that the majority of ISOs and merchant services providers (MSPs) in the country are not discussing these marketplace changes with their MLSs. In addition, many ISOs employ dull operating practices that further hinder the probability of success for their MLSs.
So for this article, please allow me a moment to step away from the rebranding discussion to speak to ISOs directly, with rants that I believe are much needed (and long overdue).
ISOs and MSPs, please help me help you. We all know that MLSs comprise what I call your mom-and-pop networks. For this discussion, a mom-and-pop network is a group of MLSs you recruit to resell for you for free (we cover our own expenses and pay for our own health insurance, for example). Your goal is to sign hundreds to thousands of us to collectively produce hundreds of millions in annual bankcard processing volume for your organizations.
However, some of the things you do make it difficult for us to help you profit off of our activities. This, in turn, hinders us from building our bankcard portfolio residual streams, which is, after all, the reason we work with you. So allow me to list some pet peeves that I hope you can fix going forward.
Following are scenarios exemplifying risk management concerns:
The following scenarios point to major concerns about actions taken with no explanation or warning:
Following are scenarios exemplifying issues pertaining to residuals:
Here are scenarios pertaining to lack of good service:
I've discussed this in prior articles, but I'm covering it again because it is vital to the survival of our industry's feet on the street.
It's time to stop encouraging untrained reps to use robotic sales scripts and cold call in person or by phone. Instead, equip your MLSs with the resources that will allow them to succeed in today's complex market. These include information on complex issues, innovative solutions, market segmentation, market research, innovative marketing, strategic networks and creative financing for their own offices.
MLSs also need instruction on how to sit down and conduct a diagnostic, consultative conversation with a merchant by asking a series of pertinent questions. Without any real instruction or discussion about available tools and resources, your so-called sales training sessions are a waste of time. Even worse, anybody following your methods stands no chance of enjoying career longevity.
So, ISOs and MSPs, please help me help you. Along with other MLSs, I'm pretty much alone in terms of navigating our complex market. I'm on my own in trying to understand my merchants' challenges, customizing or innovating the best solutions, and marketing to merchants using methods that are more complex than methods of a prior era.
So, give us the systems, support and training we need. It will boost the production of your mom-and-pop networks. And that's in your best interests.
John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in accounting, business management and journalism. Tucker also has over nine years of professional experience in commercial finance and business development. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 586-480-2140.
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