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The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 09, 2020 • Issue 20:03:01

Street SmartsSM

Find your niche

By Dee and Emily Karawadra
Impact PaySystem

As an independent sales organization (ISO) in the payment industry, our primary focus is always our sales strategy. Being in a sales-fueled industry, this has been and continues to be our top priority. What has worked for us in the past and works now in the present is to focus on niche markets. This has allowed us to home in on what that niche market needs and build a program that our sales agents can communicate and sell.

One of the first niche markets we tackled was petroleum. Petro was considered complex and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) were hesitant to go start selling to merchants in this sector. We had to open the conversation up with the MLS community to which we were recruiting.

Tackling the petroleum market

First, we had to have a platform that serviced petro merchants. We found this with the Buypass Platform at First Data Corp. They had the infrastructure built and the technology to service these accounts. Then we targeted unbranded gas stations and jobbers servicing these locations. We educated our MLSs on petro retailers and all that was involved in the setup. We created guides to help them in the field that enabled them to identify the pump software and communication methods.

Petro put us on the map, and soon MLSs were seeking us out so they could put bring their petro business to us.

We also had merchants sharing their good experiences with other merchants, and word of mouth brought us many referrals.

We were able to take the complicated out of the sales conversation by educating our field sales representatives. At the time of our emergence into petro, only a couple ISOs were actively pursuing the market. We had MLSs and ISOs who had relationships with FD Buypass but could not figure out how to board the merchants correctly not, most importantly, could they figure out how to support them. We were considered an expert in petroleum and pay-at-the-pump just by becoming educated, making ourselves the experts and educating others.

Creating a home in lodging

Another niche market we went after was lodging/hotels. This was another niche market that MLSs shied away from. Agents were unsure of the preauthorization process and the terminal functionality. When we first tackled this market, we were mostly dealing with mom-and-pop, unbranded locations. Once we mastered that, we soon went after branded franchise locations where we saw high volumes in processing and great residual returns.

We again began to educate the MLSs on how to talk shop with hotel owners. We researched each hotel brand and what property management system was being mandated by their brand. Then we had to ensure we had access to all of the platforms or gateways these brands were utilizing. Soon, we were attracting MLSs and ISOs who wanted to master the lodging market and sell into it.

Breaking free of the pack

You see, what we realized early was that too many ISOs and MLSs were knocking on the doors of retail businesses. The continual flood of eager payments industry hopefuls inundated the field, and our agents were frustrated with being turned away again and again. Then we started to focus on niche markets, and our agents began to have a much different kind of experience when they were out cold calling. They found that the petro market or lodging market was not flooded with other MLSs, which made it easier for them to close deals. Also, they received more referrals from this new customer base than they normally got from the retail space.

Focusing on niche markets narrowed the scope of our competition. The merchants in these markets were not being overwhelmed with cold calls or telemarketing. And we were able to strategically target demographic areas within the niche market and close business.

Preparing to jump in

Seeing this as a viable strategy for others going forward, we want to bring to light several things to keep in mind when you are devising your sales plan for a niche market.

  • Learn all you can about the niche market you are targeting. Understand their struggles in running a business in their niche and any specific needs they may have. Learn their lingo and shop talk. For example, if you are targeting restaurants, you need to understand shift changes, tip edit and types of POS software used.
  • Find a processor that has the best technology for niche market you are targeting. This is a huge piece of the equation needed to successfully master a niche market. The product and/or service you are selling must have the capabilities to support this niche and grow with the niche's future needs. In addition, make sure you have full access to the processor's systems so that you can maintain your merchant accounts.
  • Educate your support staff on setup and maintenance in this niche market. Bring in-house your processors' systems so you can give first-hand information and have access to make changes where needed. Make sure your staff can confidently talk about this niche market and understand the merchants' needs in this market.
  • Educate your MLSs/sales team. Take the most important information about this niche and dumb it down. MLSs are not looking to understand the complex intricacies of what goes on behind the scenes, but they do need to be able to have an intelligent conversation. Weed out all the complicated details that will only confuse MLSs or others on your sales team. The trick is to make it as simple as possible. This will give them the confidence to go out and cold call these niche markets.

Safari Njema! end of article

Dee Karawadra is president and CEO of Impact PaySystem, and Emily Karawadra is the company's chief financial officer. Since 2001, Impact PaySystem has been a leading provider of payment processing technologies and services to merchants throughout the United States. Through alliances with payments industry leaders such as Chase Paymentech, First Data, Buypass, Sage and more, Impact PaySystem offers tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each merchant. Dee and Emily will welcome your questions and comments at dee@impactpays.com and emily@impactpays.com, respectively.

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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