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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 13, 2023 • Issue 23:11:01

Find, cultivate diamond-in-the-rough partners

By Allen Kopelman
Nationwide Payment Systems

In payments, walking away from opportunities usually means walking away from money. Opportunities that are complicated or don't provide a clear path to short-term gain are still opportunities and deserve to be treated as such. Are you forgetting how complicated payments acceptance can be to someone starting a business?

What is your approach to helping a first-time merchant? Do you keep it simple by showing a plain vanilla system or one or two choices—or do you tailor something to their needs? The same rule applies when looking for channel partners that sell into select industries. The best partnership opportunities are not always readymade; many untapped markets are diamonds in the rough that you can transform into shiny treasures with a bit of grit and polish.

From ISPs to ISVs

The Green Sheet, now in its fortieth year, has promoted partnerships since the internet's early days. A November 1995 article in Issue 95:09:02, titled, "ISOs can become ISPs," made a case for bundling processing with internet connectivity for end-to-end promotional and financial transaction processing services.

"You have a rapport with the [restaurant] owner, and you have learned that he/she has a booming lunch 'delivery' trade with local businesses in the high-rise office buildings in the area," they wrote, suggesting this would be an opportune time to pitch the restaurateur on a webpage. Whether or not you close the sale, it sets the stage for additional discussions, they added, and demonstrates you have more to offer than just payment card processing.

The article quoted payment veteran Brian Roemmele, who at the time was president of Multiple Media Corp., a web services company that he positioned as a perfect partner for ISOs, MSPs and MLSs. "Our company is offering a turn-key, ground floor sales opportunity to ISO/MSP offices and salespeople," he said. "No experience is necessary with our exclusive, market proven program. It will begin to yield you dollars today."

Find your multiplier

Fast-forward a few decades, and prospective partners are making the same pitch, albeit with different add-ons. Payment card processing and websites are ubiquitous, but the market is still hungry for seamless, contextual commerce. MLSs who are open minded, client-focused and willing to dispense with old selling habits can help fill that void.

We've all seen enterprise-scale, independent software vendors (ISVs) that embed payment capabilities into products and services using payment facilitation and payfac-as-a-service models. However, plenty of small and midsize merchants prefer to process independently, not as sub-merchants.

Working with these merchants can open adjacent opportunities with industry associations and professional organizations that could provide you with a continuous pipeline of referrals. These opportunities require some initial groundwork. Following are recommendations:

  • Customize, customize, customize: Understand as much as you can about a business before you visit. Be prepared to tailor a solution that addresses your prospective merchant's needs. Customized systems offer flexibility, efficiency and tailored POS products that give your merchant a competitive edge.
  • Understand your merchant's industry: Conduct preliminary research on your merchant, such as target market, competition, product and service offerings and recent innovations in the space. This knowledge will open opportunities for meaningful discussions and set you apart from other MLSs who are there just to make a quick sale.
  • Have technical knowledge: Have a fundamental grasp of POS and ecommerce technology to help your merchant navigate the array of processing choices in hardware devices, software and mobile apps. Be prepared to recommend a solution for today that has sufficient potential to adapt and pivot as the merchant's business grows and changes.
  • Manage expectations: Have a plan to help the merchant migrate from an existing POS system to a new platform by making sure that all funds settlements have occurred prior to installation and that staff are fully trained to operate new equipment without gaps in service. Even if your job is to close the sale and move on, follow through with a smooth hand-off to your service and account management teams.
  • Insist on security compliance: Be prepared to explain the fundamentals of PCI DSS to merchants, including the fact that having a compliant system does not guarantee they will not suffer a security breach but will, however, help them mitigate risks and avoid non-compliance fines and penalties. Also explain that PCI compliance is not a once-a-year event but a continuous process, and help with maintenance and support is available if needed.
  • Sell value-adds: Be ready to demonstrate the value proposition of your proposed solution and how it will help save money, improve efficiencies, and attract and retain customers. Solutions that are remotely accessible and integrated with accounting, payroll and other systems can help merchants save time and money.

There are numerous ways to promote competitively priced, vertically focused solutions, whether with payment facilitator (payfac) and payfac-as-a-service models or niche offerings structured for particular industries. It's easier to identify and cultivate these opportunities with value-added partnerships and industry specializations. As payment professionals, it's our job to provide systems that fit budgets, solve issues, save money, and help merchants grow and scale. end of article

Allen Kopelman, a serial entrepreneur is co-founder and CEO of Nationwide Payment Systems Inc. and host of B2B Vault: The Payment Technology podcast. Email him at allen@npsbank.com and connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/allenkopelman/ and Twitter @AllenKopelman.

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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