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Total Merchant Services Creating Next Generation MLSs

Talk about pressure. At Total Merchant Services' (TMS) eighth annual sales meeting, held in Las Vegas April 27 - 29, 2005, Ed Freedman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, challenged every merchant level salesperson (MLSs) in attendance.

He asked them to not only throw out their old ways of selling credit card processing services, but also to take what they learned at the meeting about selling new technologies and begin implementing it the following week to become "next generation" salespeople. Freedman emphasized a sense of urgency because "I've seen the future, and it's not tied to a dial-up phone line," he said.

As the first morning of the conference unfolded, and Freedman revealed multiple surprises, attendees realized his challenge would be no easy task. They would have help, however. TMS would arm them with the necessary information and support to get started, become successful and stay successful.

New Alliances

The first surprise was that four competing companies came together for the meeting, and these weren't vendors. TMS announced a new alliance of four bankcard acquirers: TMS, Money Tree Merchant Services, Advanced Merchant Services and CardReady International.

The four companies will share back-office functions at one centralized location, at TMS headquarters in Basalt, Colo. The functions include application processing, deployment, risk management, merchant support, terminal help desk, IT, reporting, vendor selection and contract negotiation.

"We have all made the smart decision to work with Global Payments as our credit card processing partner, and with HSBC Bank, USA National Association as our sponsor bank," Freedman said. "We all need a back-office, specialized in working with Global Payments, to facilitate [various] virtual functions.

"We all understand what differentiates each of us from our competitors. It is our ability to do these 'back-office' tasks well. We are all selling the same services in the same price range. Differentiation is all about execution, and execution means quality back-office functionality."

A New Business Plan

The meeting, called the "2005 Next Generation Payments Conference," offered other surprises from TMS under this theme, including several exciting new programs for MLSs.

One is TMS' new Free Terminal Placement program for new retail merchants, which includes two options: the VeriFone Omni 3740 Dual-Comm dial and Internet protocol (IP)-enabled POS terminal ($375 value) or the Omni 3740, CR1000i check imager, a stacker and all the cables ($750 value).

The company is also offering an interest-free terminal financing program. Instead of paying for terminal equipment upfront, MLSs now have the option to pay for it over 25 months by deducting the amount due from monthly commission payments.

TMS now offers a Revenue Sharing program, in which its sales partners will receive a minimum of 50% of the difference between the rates and fees charged to the merchant and the rates and fees paid by TMS to its vendors and associations.

"For retail accounts, our sales partners can earn an extra 10% or 15%, getting their revenue sharing split up to 60% or 65% by activating 50 new retail accounts each month (10%) or by activating 100 new retail accounts each month (15%)," Freedman said.

TMS also announced support for general packet radio service (GPRS) wireless technology through new technology and product offerings.

A Successful Meeting Overall

More than 265 people attended the conference, and 220 of them were MLSs. The meeting consisted of two full days of sales training, with no time wasted. Back-to-back presentations combined with break-out sessions with vendors provided MLSs with plenty of solid education.

In addition to presenting its new programs in detail, TMS also covered topics in-depth including interchange, selling new technologies such as wireless and IP, DBA name compliance, closing and lead generation. Overall, attendees were very pleased with time spent at the meeting. Following Freedman's closing remarks, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

"I thought the conference was very professionally run and provided specific strategies for increasing our business," one attendee said.

"This was my first TMS sales meeting, but I thought it was great," another said. "I learned quite a bit about how to transition from selling just credit card services to value-added services. It's also good to meet the people we send our business to."

On the last night of the conference, TMS scheduled a three-hour block for one-on-one time with both vendors and TMS to address any unanswered questions. The company also had giveaways and a drawing to close the event.

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