GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing

Industry Leader:
Jamie Nonni

He writes his own story

Success doesn't happen by chance. Achievement in any area of life requires ambition, drive and resourcefulness. Behind any success story, you will most likely find a history of initiative, hard work and perseverance. Successful people are those who understand that they, and only they, have the power to make their dreams come true.

This is true for Jamie Nonni, Chief Operations Officer of Nationwide Payment Solutions. Nonni has used his experiences in the financial services industry to amass the knowledge and skill necessary to create a thriving business. His ability to adapt to change, view challenges as opportunities and recognize possibilities have allowed him to create his own success story.

Make the most of opportunities

As is the case with so many in our industry, Nonni didn't start his career in financial services. In the early 1990s, he owned and operated a cellular phone business. One day a customer who wanted to process transactions during a tradeshow asked him how to connect a card payment terminal to a cell phone.

Nonni admitted that he "had no clue." But he worked to find the answer and located a Motorola device that enabled cellular payment processing.

Nonni didn't know it then, but that interaction would have a profound impact on his career path.

The initial tradeshow vendor began referring colleagues to Nonni. As an increasing number of vendors approached him, Nonni sensed a profitable opportunity. He asked customers questions and was able to learn a bit about the payments industry.

As he became educated about swipe rates versus MO/TO (mail order or telephone order) rates, Nonni decided to find a processor to whom he could refer business. He grabbed the Yellow Pages and found a reputable processor on the first try. He then became an agent for that processor, selling merchant services and earning residuals.

"My manager at the time was, and has been, a great influence on me over the years," he said. "Rather then training me to sell high-priced equipment, he taught me the value of earning long-term revenues." Nonni began advertising to the tradeshow market and worked part time as an agent while still running his cellular business. After two years, he sold the cellular business and committed himself full time to merchant services.

"It was a scary but very serious time of my life," he said. "Both my wife and I were writing merchant applications out of the attic of our small apartment only months after becoming new parents. I look back now and realize how things could have changed if I had not made that decision. I dove into what I knew best how to do; I sold [to] wireless mobile merchants."

Nonni worked as an independent sales agent, learning the business and building on his understanding of the technological side of the industry. He then became a registered ISO and worked for companies large and small. He used this experience to learn as much as he could about merchant services. "I learned all aspects of the industry, everything from restaurants, to hospitality, to anything you could think of," he said.

In 2002 when the ISO he was working for underwent a buyout, Nonni viewed it as another opportunity: the chance to build an independent business. He and his partners, Brian Stevens and Patrick Allen, founded Nationwide Payment Solutions with just 13 employees.

Today they have approximately 35 employees, along with more than 80 active salespeople.

Just do it

Nonni's diverse experience has helped him understand that we all control our own futures. "I paid my dues and respected those who have helped me," he said. "Every move has been an improvement over the previous one. I am able to take the knowledge that I gained through the years, as well as learn from my mistakes."

Nonni knows that if he wants to attain something, or wants his career to go in a certain direction, he must be the one to make it happen. "If you're going to do something, just do it," he said. "If I had stayed in previous positions, or never moved up in channels, I would never have made it this far. If you set goals and do what it takes to reach them, success will come later."

Agent as customer

One goal Nonni set was to create a company that would benefit sales professionals in both the short and long term. That's why Nationwide Payment Solutions was founded on the belief that the sales representative is the most important customer.

"When we built this organization our intent was to create a quality organization that salespeople could rely on," he said. "I have seen a lot of people take advantage of others. I wanted to do what is right."

Nonni knows just how valuable agents are. After all, agents are the merchants' first contact. Agents see firsthand what's happening in the market and can gauge the mood of the industry. Nonni listens to agents, encourages input and acts on it. "One thing that has made our organization successful is that we have listened to our sales agents and delivered what was most important to them," he said.

"For example, we have built our infrastructure as [a] result of direct feedback from the reps. We tell reps, if you have a good idea, give it to us and we will do our best to build a program around it. Our sales program is, in a sense, created by the people we have working with us. Many companies undervalue the knowledge of a good salesperson."

Advice to new agents

Nonni thinks the best and quickest way for industry newcomers to get on their feet is to become knowledgeable of interchange and competitive pricing models, so he works to educate his agents.

"We've empowered salespeople to be very flexible and confident so they can sign accounts that they would not typically approach," he said. "We've been very successful in teaching people that. The end result is bigger merchants, bigger volume and bigger residuals for the rep."

Current challenges

Nonni foresaw, in 1997, that the credit card processing industry would bundle its fees and offer free equipment, just as the cell phone industry had done. "Now that that has happened, it will start to change the compensation models for sales agents," Nonni said. "How long can someone give away free equipment without a merchant or sales agent paying for it somewhere down the line?"

Nonni expects that larger ISOs will begin to prefer working with direct sales employees, and agents on the street will have less opportunity to compete. "I see many competitors hiring direct salespeople, telemarketers and in-house employees, and using free equipment to lure merchants," he said.

Nonni predicts that independent sales agents will be required to build greater value with their merchants while also losing revenues from equipment commissions, but he works to identify ways to adapt to such changes. "Our goal is to find more opportunities for salespeople," he said.

Nonni identified interchange as another challenge for agents, and the industry as a whole. "As a company, we've seen margins come down considerably over the past five years. It's becoming an industry where rates are ineffective. We have to sell on value; agents who don't sell on value will be in trouble," he said.

An eye toward the future

Concerning the future of Nationwide Payment Solutions, Nonni sees no end in sight. "I want to continue building the organization.

"There is no reason not to take Nationwide to the next level. My partners and I enjoy what we do every day and it doesn't make sense to stop doing it," he said.

Nonni also plans to increase the company's focus on technology and maintain its in-house programs. "I think technology in our industry is crucial to the success of our company and our sales reps," he said.

"I believe you shouldn't outsource if [you] don't have to. We've spent time and money to develop better reporting, Web-based tools and technology, all of which have had a positive impact on our salespeople."

Achieving balance

Nonni has worked hard, but he does it with balance in mind. He understands that an important part of success includes balancing time between his work, family and friends. "All the things that happened to me have helped me become a better person," he said.

He also works to be a friendly, approachable leader and maintains a casual and family-oriented environment at work. "If I see a salesperson achieve, that makes me proud," he said. "If they succeed, we've done our job."

Article published in issue number 060302

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2006, The Green Sheet, Inc.