There are unfortunate stereotypes associated with salespeople, and credit card processing salespeople (and the companies that support them) are saddled with the very worst of them. Most merchants who have been accepting credit cards for any length of time have felt deceived, misled, and even lied to by merchant services sales agents. They report having been promised incredible savings, only to find that these savings never materialized. And many also report seeing their rates increase outside the terms of their original contract.
How to be a successful sales rep:
Any sales agent who has been in this industry long enough knows that the key to building long-term success and wealth as a credit card processing sales agent is to sign lots of merchants and keep the ones you sign. Because you get paid every month based on the volume and transactions your merchants process, the more merchants you have processing, the better.
And those who do it well get paid handsomely for their efforts. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds, but it can be done—the most successful agents can earn $30,000 - $40,000 and more per month in recurring income. But it takes hard work, determination, sales acumen, and even a little bit of luck. In order to increase your likelihood of success, , consider following these helpful suggestions.
Know Your Business
The pricing structure of credit card processing is very complicated. Few merchants are able to make sense of their merchant statement. And perhaps more surprisingly, many industry-experienced sales agents are sketchy on the details as well. There are two glaring concerns with that. First, if you don’t understand the economics of a merchant deal, you will have a hard time explaining the cost-savings opportunity you’re offering that merchant. You certainly won’t be able to answer second-level questions they have. Second, without a sound understanding of merchant services pricing, you won’t be able to assess the value of the deal to YOU! The best sales agents in the industry can tell you within a few pennies how much profit is built into a merchant account after reviewing a recent statement. That knowledge is power. It can help you determine where you can make concessions—like give away a new point-of-sale terminal—and when it is best to walk away from a deal.
Success Tip: Get good training, analyze tons of merchant statements from different processors, and compare your findings with someone who knows what he or she is doing. Get to know the ins and outs of the industry and the “tricks” that providers play on their merchants. It will make you a better merchant advocate and will earn you their trust and their business.
Be Transparent and Educate Merchants
Merchants hate credit card processing by default—they view it as a necessary 3% tax on their business. What enrages them most, however, is the obscure nature of the pricing and long list of incomprehensible fee codes. If you know your business (see tip above), you can regularly review your merchants’ statements with them. You can spot any processing inefficiencies that are driving up their costs, educate them about what they’re paying for and why, and you might even be able to spot a billing error before they do, which you can remedy proactively. Your merchants will forget a lot of what you teach them, but as long as they know you are shooting them straight, and are available and able to answer any questions they have, they will be more inclined to maintain their relationship with you. And if you do this right, you should expect merchants to refer you to their friends, family and business contacts.
Success Tip: Schedule in your calendar at least an annual review with your merchants. Think of these visits not as chores, but as business development opportunities. So at the end of these visits, don’t be afraid to ask your merchants for introductions to anyone they think might benefit from your services. Expect to be pleasantly surprised by their responses!
Have a Plan of Attack
If you surveyed the most successful sales agents in the credit card processing industry about how they go about their business and drive up their monthly income, you would find an almost infinite number of answers. But just about every one of them would be able to articulate a clear plan that works for them. Some target a certain industry vertical. Others leverage their personal networks for referrals. Others prefer door to door cold calling. Others do combinations of all of the above.
Success Tip: You get the picture, right? There is no one magical way to skin the cat in this industry. But you have to have a plan to skin it. You can modify it if you get tired of it, or if you suddenly find success down a different path. But have a plan. And execute it.
Scour the Earth for Referral Sources—and Pay Them
No one requires a license to sell merchant services, so anyone can say they’re a salesperson even if they have no idea what they’re doing. People still like to do business with people they know, or with people who are vouched for by people they know. The best merchant services sales agents increase sales by increasing the number of statements they receive. They do that by increasing the numbers of referral sources they have. And the smartest ones incentivize their referral partners by paying them a cut of their monthly residuals for referred merchants who sign a contract.
Success Tip: Literally anyone can be a referral partner—accountants, bookkeepers, PTA moms, people whose brothers own a restaurant. Not all of them care to be paid, but it can’t hurt to offer. Your success will grow as you increase the numbers of merchants you’re introduced to. So find referral partners to introduce you to more of them. And offer to pay them 20% - 25% of the profit on the account. Watch your sales soar!
Choose Your Merchant Services Partner Carefully
The merchant services industry is like the Wild West.There is very little governmental regulation, and, as already discussed above, pricing structure is confusing. And so merchant services providers sometimes take advantage of these facts by misleading, deceiving, and lying to their sales agents (like many sales agents do to their merchants). Many providers boast impossible perks in an attempt to lure sales agents—free terminal programs, 90% percentage splits, “lifetime residuals” that come with limits, etc. Like your parents told you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Success Tip: Make sure you see the provider’s “buy rate” or “Schedule A” on which they’re basing their split to you. Ask about the levels of agent and merchant support staff they have internally. Find out about commission payout timing and your right to audit commissions. Ask if they require your approval before increasing merchant rates. And find out what happens to your portfolio if ownership decides to sell their portfolio. You should be looking for the most straight-forward, transparent, well-staffed provider you can find. Don’t just move to the one you come across first.