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A Thing

Honesty, Integrity and Hard Work Go a Long Way

Gary Yen of Castro Valley, Calif. works with ISO/MSP Money Tree Merchant Services. He has built a very satisfying career in the merchant services industry. Starting off as a merchant level salesperson (MLS), he soon worked his way up to be a manager of a profitable sales force. In the following interview with The Green Sheet, Yen describes a typical day in his life as a salesperson and provides some tips on approaching merchants and closing sales.

The Green Sheet: What brought you into this business?

Gary Yen: It was pure coincidence ... one day I was scanning the newspaper and was attracted to this classified ad that said "Earn up to $75,000 a year selling what all merchants need." [This was] approximately nine years ago. Since then I have consistently worked at this business full time, and [I am] loving it.

GS: Was your background in sales?

GY: It had little to do with merchant sales and technology, like selling a product (credit card terminal) to a stranger without them coming to me; it was a scary thought.

Luckily, I was hired by a sales manager who took the time to give me proper training: from how to walk into a store and approach a merchant, to techniques of sales, to the know-how of the merchant card processing industry.

Looking back on my learning curve, my sales manager was a rare inspiration for any new salesperson. I have not run into another person or company that thoroughly trains their sales staff the way he did.

GS: How did you choose who to work with?

GY: When I started working with Lynk Systems Inc. nine years ago, I had no idea who and what was out there, what the market was like and who my competitors were.

The only thing I knew was to follow the sales program my sales manager taught me. In a few short months, I was promoted to a district sales manager position and was hiring and training my sales staff the way I learned it.

I also began to review other offers from my competitors: their rate structures, compensation plans and ... most importantly, the quality of their customer service.

GS: How do you choose a processor?

GY: By considering the following:

  1. The time it takes from a completed application to download or terminal deployment.
  2. Accuracy in file/program built for merchant's specific terminal and requirements.
  3. How [easily] am I able to talk to someone at the processing end? (If I am having difficulties, imagine what frustration the merchant would have.)
  4. What is my buy rate? (It has a direct effect on my ability to negotiate pricing.)
  5. The consistency and accuracy of my residual payments.

I put my residuals last and my buy rate second to last simply because if I can satisfy my merchant and at the same time save myself hours in setting them up, I already have a winning combination, and income will automatically follow.

GS: What has kept you in the industry?

GY: If it weren't because of the personal touch and the responsiveness of my current processor (Money Tree Merchant Services) and the effort they put in to reduce the time their salespeople have to deal with the daily programming and problem solving with the technical personnel, I would probably have quit the industry long ago.

GS: What type of market/clientele do you prefer to work with? Why?

GY: I do not have a preference ... That is not to say I will take anything that comes along. I steer away from restricted merchant types, and I have refused to set up merchants that seemed to be doing shady businesses (where there is a probable chance of fraud). I have a respectable reputation with my processor, and I like to keep it that way.

GS: How do you approach potential clients?

GY: In the example of cold calling or introducing myself to a potential client, I ask enough questions to learn ... their current form of accepting payments and what their needs are. There's almost always room for improvement. GS: Do you have any special methods/techniques that generally work to help you close a sale? How much of it is on a case-by-case basis?

GY: When you say "case-by-case basis," it is almost always true, because every person is unique, although similar. I try to get a personal understanding of the merchant before I recommend or try to close a sale.

I do not use [a] hard sale because I myself do not like to be hard-sold. It often works when I provide just enough information to the merchant and guide them to their decision, keeping back just a few useful ones in case I need to try to close multiple times.

Up-selling is understanding what the merchant is looking for ... Sell the idea of how to prepare for his or her future business expansion.

GS: How do you explain interchange rates to potential clients?

GY: Sometimes the more information there is, the more confusing it gets. But at the same time, one cannot omit or misrepresent any information. So the idea is to tell the merchant what they're paying for but not try to explain the whole banking and card processing industry to them.

GS: What are two or three basic tenets of your business philosophy?

GY: I always believe that honesty and integrity pays. Merchants are business people too, and they are not dumb. "Lie, cheat and steal" only gets you so far, and you'll be out of business ... fast.

I make sure my merchant knows that I value their business, and I'm always there for them today, next month or 10 years down the road. [I tell them,] "Give me a call with any questions or problems, I'll be there."

GS: What do you think about the honesty and integrity at the MLS level?

GY: I feel there is absolutely not enough honesty and integrity at the MLS level. I run into merchants every day who tell me things that were promised to them [but are] totally not true, and I'm surprised some sales reps actually get away with it.

The omissions and misrepresentations on contracts are staggering. I can safely estimate that over 70% of merchants [did] not fully understand their contract when they signed it. Some found out the hard way when they [were] hit with penalties.

GS: Describe a typical day in your life.

GY: 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Wake up. After coffee and cereal, I check my e-mail to see the status of my submitted applications. The ones that have been approved and are purchasing new equipment will be expecting it in a day. I schedule my appointments to do personal installations and training.

  • 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. I get calls in the morning on either merchant issues or referrals from past merchants. I tell them to first seek our help desk personnel on the 800 line. If that didn't work, I'll set an appointment to pay them a visit. I then set appointments to visit my referrals.

  • 12:00 p.m. Head out of the house to do a few cold calls before my appointments.

  • 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Lunch. I'll try to find someone to eat with (friend, acquaintance or a merchant).

  • 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Visit my appointments and close a few deals.

  • 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. On the way home, I see a couple of merchants that can use a wireless terminal and talk to them. Get their business cards and give them mine.

  • 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Home office. [I] finish up my paperwork of new applications on deals I closed.

GS: Where do you see this industry in five, 10 and 20 years?

GY: This industry, just like any other industry, will evolve a lot faster than before, mainly due to the advancement of technology.

The old VeriFone Tranz units will altogether give way to the new equipment with multiple functions. The equipment we sell today will still be around in five years, but like any electronics, will grow obsolete much faster than the old Zon and Tranz 330.

I see [fewer] companies competing due to mergers and buy outs. Even though the age of Internet and Web selling is expanding fast, retail sales will still be around and still be a major part of everyday life. I see most street selling techniques fading into Web selling, where merchants can shop for better rates and equipment much faster.

GS: How has The Green Sheet helped you?

GY: Ever since I started in this business, I have been reading The Green Sheet. It is one sure way of obtaining up-to-date information and reliable resources.

GS: What are your goals for your merchant services career?

GY: I have been in this business for nine years, and I plan on working [in] this business for the long term.

I enjoy meeting new people ... and helping them save on expenses and updating them on payment methods. I am satisfied on the progress I have achieved and am looking forward to vastly expanding my merchant base over time. If I knew how lucrative this business could be, I would have started working [in] it years earlier.

GS: Any advice for someone just starting out in this industry?

GY: This business is not like it was five or 10 years ago. It is not a simple sale with a simple interchange rate anymore. You have to be knowledgeable on what you sell; it doesn't hurt to admit something you don't know as long as you're honest. It is also a business [in which] time and performance pays, in the long term.

GS: Any final comments?

GY: This is a good business to be in. I feel that integrity in this or any business is the way to longevity and a prosperous income.

Too often I see sales ads and salespeople trying to do and say anything to get a sale but [will] only lose out in a few months, hence losing their own dignity and reason to continue in this career. I am looking for a great future in this business.

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