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Street SmartsSM:
Surf the Web with Success

I have said in previous columns that a Merchant Level Salesperson who can read is dangerous. Well, an MLS who can read and surf the Web is lethal. This column will examine and evaluate one of the most valuable resources available to the savvy MLS - the Internet. We'll discuss which Web sites are most effective as well as those that may not be worth the time it takes to double click.

Recently, I placed the following post on The Green Sheet MLS Forum for feedback:

"My next column will showcase valuable Web site resources you as an MLS can and should be taking advantage of. I'd love to know what your favorite Web site is - and why. What makes it so useful? Also, are you using any of the following:

www.electran.org

www.greensheet.com

www.transactionworld.com

www.visa.com

www.mastercard.com

"Let me know if you recommend any others. Remember, your voice needs to be heard."

Here's a sample of the typical response I received:

"I regularly review all of the Web sites that you have listed, and I also find the following sites to be very useful:

www.cardforum.com

www.epaynews.com

www.nilsonreport.com

www.businesssolutionsmag.com

"The Internet is a powerful way to educate yourself and your ISOs. Overall, I believe that the Green Sheet is the best all-around resource within our industry."

- Peter Scharnell

Judging from other posts I read, there seem to be countless Web sites available to the payment processing industry. Since none of us has time to review them all, I'll focus on the most popular and most familiar on our street.

Ed's Ratings

www.electran.org - 3 "Clicks"

I consider the Electronic Transactions Association's Web site a valuable resource and recommend that you bookmark it in your favorites.

The reason I give www.electran.org only three clicks instead of four or five is because not much of its content is directed at the MLS. One of its major deficiencies is a lack of MLS representation.

I truly believe the ETA does a good job at representing the interests of its members, most of whom are registered ISOs, MSPs, processors and related equipment and technology providers. Great site, just not great for sales reps.

www.transactionworld.com - 2 "Clicks"

While I think that Transaction World is a fine magazine for our industry, I do not think its Web site is as valuable a resource. If you get the hard copy of the publication, there would be no need to visit the site. Other than offering an online version of each month's issue, there's really not much else on this site other than archived issues. You also need to know what you're looking for because there is no search tool.

www.cardforum.com - "2 Clicks"

Credit Card Management Magazine's site has lots of information, but I'm not sure much of that data is helpful to the MLS. While it is good to keep abreast of general industry happenings, I'd skip this site if your time is limited.

www.epaynews.com - "3 Clicks"

This site is a free news portal and research tool that focuses on electronic and mobile payment technologies. It provides payment professionals with a dynamic information resource site. Daily data are collected primarily from the Web and then collated into informative overviews of e-payment mechanisms in e-commerce and m-commerce fields as well as topics relevant to banking, merchant payments, B2B payments and related technologies.

A keyword search allows users to quickly locate information relevant to their particular needs. It also offers comprehensive statistics on an assortment of topics as well as industry white papers.

A valuable component of www.epaynews.com is its weekly newsletter summarizing the top stories of the last seven days. This is a terrific site with lots of information, a great search tool and a great glossary. It's worth checking out.

www.nilsonreport.com - 2 "Clicks"

The Nilson Report is a great publication, but if you are not a subscriber, the amount of information on its site is limited. With an annual cost for the online version of $945, there are not too many sales reps or even ISOs who want to spend that kind of money for information not critical to running their business.

www.visa.com- 3 "Clicks"

Visa International's site contains a comprehensive section dedicated to merchants who want to accept Visa. Information about accepting credit cards is easily accessed.

Notable sections include Accept Visa; Automatic Bill Payment; Guide To A Transaction; Glossary; Fraud Control Basics; Card-Not-Present Fraud Detection Online Transaction Safety; Cardholder Information Security Program; Verified By Visa; Zero Liability; Visa Promotions; Order Industry Materials, Decals & Signage; Online Logo Use; POS Check Service; Visa ePay and Co-Branded Cards. That's a lot of good information available at a click of a mouse. Check it out!

www.mastercard.com - 3 "Clicks"

This one has a great lead-generation tool. If you register on the site, MasterCard will forward you leads from merchants who inquire about establishing a merchant account. Free Leads - why not? Head to this site and sign up today!

www.greensheet.com- 5 "Clicks"

Bookmark this site! You cannot be in this industry and not regularly view The Green Sheet's site. If there is one site that consistently focuses on the MLS, this is it. To let you know how valuable I consider this resource, I have set my start page to www.greensheet.com. Before I list all the information that is available on this site with a click of a mouse, let me share a story that illustrates the value of www.greensheet.com.

I received a phone call from an individual who was interested in doing business with me.

He started the conversation by saying he was very impressed with my company and me. He said he liked the story of how I started out as a young boy cleaning boats and worked my way up the corporate ladder from there.

I asked him how he knew about my background. He replied that he had read an Industry Leader profile about me on www.greensheet.com. He went on to say he agreed with my philosophy of education and paying people fairly. Again, I asked him how he knew about my business ideology. He replied that he had also read my company profile on www.greensheet.com.

He explained that all he did was use the search tool at www.greensheet.com and input "Ed Freedman" and "Total Merchant Services." Much to his surprise and delight, he found stories covering our progress dating to 1997.

He read many of them, then put a post on The Green Sheet MLS Forum asking about my company and received a lot of positive feedback. He also shared with me his discovery of "Street SmartsSM" on the Web site and said he had read all of them - they are archived on www.greensheet.com.

I asked him how he knew how to contact me. He said it was simple. He just looked me up on www.greensheet.com's online resource guide. Here was a new agent who had signed up to represent Total Merchant Services and wanted to introduce himself.

Thanks to the outstanding resources at www.greensheet.com, he found out everything he needed to know and had no additional questions.

Before I call a vendor or an individual that I am considering doing business with, I also check www.greensheet.com before I make the call. The site's company profiles are terrific and, needless to say, the MLS Forum and its newswire both are invaluable.

For example, I recently called some friends in the business and said, "Hey, did you hear about Joe Kaplan?" Everyone I spoke to said, "Yes, I just read on the www.greensheet.com newswire that he sold his company to Intuit for $116 million."

I found out at www.greensheet.com two days before Joe had time to call me to share his great news. When I finally was able to talk to him, I asked, "Why didn't you tell me?" Joe responded, "I knew you would read about it online at The Green Sheet!"

Regarding the MLS Forum, I don't think I could successfully write "Street SmartsSM" without this resource. Every day I am in my office, I log onto the MLS Forum to stay current on what's happening out there on the street. Fellow Merchant Level Salespeople are always eager to share experiences and knowledge on this Web site.

In addition to the MLS Forum, here's just a sampling of what else awaits you at www.greensheet.com:

  • News from the Wire
  • For Immediate Release
  • The Green Sheet - Current Issue
  • GS Archive
  • GSQ - Current Issue
  • GSQ Archive
  • Company Profiles
  • Industry Leader Profiles
  • Resource Guide
  • Industry FAQs
  • Knowledge is Power
  • Street SmartsSM
  • Payment Processing Litigation
  • Fraud Prevention Tips
  • Tradeshow Directory
  • Trade Association Directory
  • Book Reviews
  • ISO Network
  • Web Site FAQs
  • Media Kit
The site has been revamped, and the new design is outstanding. Kudos to you and your staff, Paul Green!

One final note about www.greensheet.com. The Green Sheet is 20 years old this month, and the Web site shows the company's maturity. This is single-handedly the best Web site in the business.

I want to thank The Green Sheet staff and congratulate them for 20 great years of serving this industry. I personally look forward to 20 more great years!

It is imperative that every MLS use the Internet to access information efficiently and expeditiously. For that reason, here's another bit of advice: Invest in high-speed access as opposed to dial-up.

I highly recommend spending the extra bucks to incorporate high-speed Internet access in your business life. It will make the difference between a pleasurable and successful Web-surfing experience versus a frustrating, time-consuming one.

There they are - my ratings on industry-related Web sites that work and those that don't. As always, I'd love to hear from you.

Please send your feedback on this topic (and any others) to streetsmarts@totalmerchantservices.com. My next column will discuss my experience at the ETA Midyear meeting. Please continue to look for my posts on The Green Sheet MLS Forum. I welcome all of your responses and willinclude them in my columns.

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it." - Samuel Johnson

I'll see you next time where the rubber meets the road.

Ed Freedman is founder and President/CEO of Total Merchant Services, one of the fastest-growing credit card merchant account acquirers in the nation. Ed is the driving force behind all business development activity as well as the execution of Total Merchant Services' marketing plan, including recruiting and training independent sales offices and establishing strategic alliance partnerships with leading vendors, so that Total Merchant Services can provide its customers with the highest quality and most reliable services available.

To learn more about Total Merchant Services, visit www.totalmerchantservices.com. To learn more about partnering with Total Merchant Services, visit www.upfrontandresiduals.com or contact Ed directly at ed@totalmerchantservices.com

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
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