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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 26, 2016 • Issue 16:09:02

Street SmartsSM

Reap the benefits of shifting MLS roles

By John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC

Since I became quarterback of the Street SmartsSM column in April 2016, my focus has been on rebranding the merchant level salesperson (MLS) to sell new, innovative, complex solutions that resolve merchants' new, complex marketplace problems. Most recently, I have focused on how MLSs can do this by leading in as a experts in advanced POS technology.

Challenges ahead

This complex marketplace brings a host of problems and challenges many business historians have never seen before. This new market requires complex:

  • Solutions in the form of new technical, analytical, and integrated services/products.
  • Marketing strategies that involve the usage of new marketing mediums.
  • Business-to-business sales cycles that involve more diagnostic processes, knowledge of buying cycles, and more nuisances to be managed throughout the sales process (and after the sales process) than ever before.

This new marketplace also requires sales professionals with technical and analytical expertise, rather than robotic sales script regurgitators seeking to merely overcome objections.

Benefits of change

While these changes might seem daunting to some, motivational speaker Jim Rohn expressed a different view, stating, "Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."

These new developments in our industry will indeed wash out many players, causing them to exit the space to pursue opportunities elsewhere. However, some will remain, joining with others who are either already skilled in technology and analysis or are willing to put in the effort to learn. These high-quality sales professionals will become in great demand domestically and globally. In other words, new complex market changes provide massive income opportunities for the sales professionals who are positioned properly to address them.

Previously, members of GS Online's MLS Forum and I discussed aspects of MLSs rebranding as technology sales professionals. Certain conversations have centered specifically on MLSs leading in as experts in advanced POS technology. Prior articles in this discussion include "Rebranding as a technology sales professional" and "To own or not to own the POS system sales process," published by The Green Sheet Aug. 8, and Sept. 12, 2016, in issues 16:08:01 and 16:09:01, respectively.

A shift in progress

Today, two main options are available for merchants in the retail, restaurant, service and hospitality industries for use in managing POS transactions. They can use either an electronic cash register or a feature-rich POS system. Industry veterans belonging to the MLS Forum have weighed in on these options, and some of their views were shared in prior articles. The remainder of this article contains more of their expert commentary.

MLS Forum member Dhessco agrees that the way MLSs conduct business is changing: "I believe there is most definitely a shift happening," Dhessco posted. "We are all going to become more specialized in POS systems, as the terminal market is dwindling every day. The problem is traditional agents are not tech savvy and most tech-savvy people are not salesmen."

By traditional agents, Dhessco is referring to MLSs who were recruited and trained to only sell bankcard processing using robotic sales scripts focused on rate savings. These MLS are going to have to become more technical and analytical to survive in today's complex market.

Opportunities for differentiation

Forum member, Payment Logistics, agrees potential exists for MLSs to realize significant compensation and other benefits if they and their partners devise and offer new, complex solutions:

"MLSs need to find out how to offer value in a way that differentiates them from the competition and provides tangible benefits to their target market," Payment Logistics wrote. "For many, that involves POS in some fashion whether they're partnering with POS ISVs and VARs, reselling POS systems or selling their own. For others, it might be something totally unrelated to POS. Regardless of what it is, it needs to be valuable to the MLS's target audience."

Payment Logistics posed the question: What makes you different from your competitors? "If the answer is limited to great service, transparency, low rates and the other things that almost every company preaches, then your margins will constantly be under fire, and your enterprise value will be relatively low compared to others that can add more tangible value," he noted.

Illuminating questions

Further questions Payment Logistics posed were:

  • What value are you offering that others are not?
  • Can your merchants or partners easily replace you with another company and gain the same benefits?
  • How are you doing things better than your competition?

"If you have true answers to these questions then you've figured out how to de-commoditize the services you offer, command higher margins, have lower attrition, and much less margin compression," he wrote. "Let's be clear though, there's nothing easy about the aforementioned questions. If it was easy, then your competitive differentiators wouldn't be differentiators at all since many others would have them too. It usually involves the development and ongoing refinement of a (complex/innovative) solution and above all else, it involves hard work, dedication and passion."

This conversation will continue in the next edition of Street SmartsSM, with more insights from industry veterans, along with my own commentary. end of article

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 tucker@1stcapitalloans.com or by telephone at 586-480-2140.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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

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