Marc Beauchamp, founder and President of consulting firm Performance Training Systems, has devoted most of his career to the payments industry since receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps more than 20 years ago. Since then, he has worn the hat of both merchant level salesperson (MLS) and national sales manager.
Beauchamp has sold a variety of products, including payroll services, human resource management software, computer networking, insurance and finance products, and credit management. He was introduced to the payments industry by a friend after being laid off from his first civilian job as a credit manager for a national jewelry chain. He saw tremendous potential within an industry that he felt could compensate him fairly for his efforts.
In the late 1990s, he ran a large sales division for a processing company, overseeing 80 outside MLSs and 25 inside telemarketers and staff. He noted that the money was great, but he felt he was trading money for time. Then the Internet bubble burst and Beauchamp was faced with another crossroads.
"Plans to take the company I was with public did not materialize, so I was faced with the decision to either stay in sales or do something else," Beauchamp said. "I also made the first important distinction of my career: I didn't want anyone to have total control over my livelihood or my career again. That's when I came up with the idea to write my book, How to Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry."
After spending nine months re-searching and writing his book, Beauchamp felt it a natural career extension to take the foundation of sales knowledge he had acquired and segue into consulting, training, and helping MLSs and ISOs grow their businesses. He founded Performance Training Systems in 2003. During the first three years the company focused most of its time on conducting live training events across the country, helping to develop MLS recruiting strategies, lead generation and marketing programs.
"We spend the bulk of our time working with agent offices or ISOs to help them develop a systematic agent program, from compensation to recruiting to field production and training," Beauchamp said. "We also work with numerous clients that offer value-added products to the industry to give agents a clear 'go-to' market strategy and other programs that are attractive to bankcard organizations."
What Beauchamp found, through providing consulting services in-person to thousands of MLSs and ISOs across the country, was the lack of training programs to give MLSs, especially newbies, the necessary skills to be successful. He saw significant gaps in sales training and planning, prospecting, and implementation skills.
In 2006 Beauchamp founded the Bankcard Boot Camp, an online teleconference training program designed to provide affordable, convenient training for new MLSs in the industry with fewer than two years' experience in the industry. "I realized after working with so many processors and ISOs that they don't offer sales training," Beauchamp said. "There's a lot of manufacturer product training, but nothing that really helped agents with a prospecting plan, business strategy, niche marketing, presentation and closing skills that are specifically targeted toward our industry. That's why I wanted to create something that was cost-effective and packed with lots of content to help those with little or no experience."
Bankcard Boot Camp consists of eight training modules covering the industry basics - from automated clearing house processing and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard essentials to underwriting and myriad sales and marketing strategies. Beauchamp offers additional training on how to calculate proposals, as well as sample sales and proposal letters, income goal sheets, a bankcard glossary and other sales resources.
Individual modules are offered on Tuesdays and Thurs-days and last approximately two hours. Additionally, Beauchamp conducts live question-and-answer sessions on Fridays to address any need for content clarification. Beauchamp feels that his strength lies in his ability to condense complicated information into easy-to-grasp, concise terms.
"I have the FAQ calls where anyone can call in and ask questions about that week's modules," Beauchamp said. "I also review the entire week's training with them. I really believe in reinforcement so they can get the high points of what I am trying to train them on, open up the forum to questions, and brainstorm in an effort to give them some good input on what I've seen and what strategies seem to work best out in the market today.
"They're actively asking questions because it's impacting their livelihood. My goal is to help them figure out how they're going to compete against all these other people in the industry - not only to make a living, but to build a large recurring revenue stream through residuals or whatever sales strategy or vehicle they've determined to use."
Beauchamp noted that the Bankcard Boot Camp is perhaps a little too basic for an industry veteran, but he added that professionals from organizations outside the industry, regardless of length of service, may find the information cohesive, succinct and useful. Clients include credit union and bank operations employees, information technology specialists, and third-party product innovators wanting to break into the bankcard space.
"I get a lot of different types of people outside the payments industry as well," Beauchamp said. "And of those attending these training sessions, some organizations want to start recruiting agents and ISOs.
"They want to get a feel for what it's like to be an agent out there and what's involved. And I let these folks know that there are areas within payments that I don't focus on, but I have resources and various industry experts that I can deploy to assist them."
Beauchamp said the Bankcard Boot Camp offers several tangible benefits that cannot be found elsewhere.
"Hiring a dedicated in-house trainer or bringing in an outside consultant to develop and conduct training within an organization can be very cost-prohibitive," Beauchamp said. "Although I still provide the occasional live seminar, today I deliver the majority of my Boot Camps via teleconference, rich with content.
"Agents can call in from anywhere, and if they miss a call, they have the opportunity to download each session in MP3 format. It's a win-win for everyone: lower cost of training, no travel and agents still receive the material they need to get a jump-start on the business."
John Gibbs, a three-year payment veteran and an MLS for United Bank Card Raleigh, an ISO of United Bank Card Inc., found Bankcard Boot Camp through The Green Sheet. He recalled that when he was a newbie, he didn't know where or how to start. He just knew he didn't want to hit the streets selling without a plan.
Gibbs believes that it is the ISO owner's responsibility to be a coach and provide tools to help agents under contract with the ISO prosper. He noted that a previous 12-week course he attended gave him a solid foundation on the banking industry, but it wasn't payment specific. On the other hand, Gibbs said Bankcard Boot Camp was much more comprehensive than any training program he had been exposed to previously.
"I was looking to start training for two new reps that didn't have any industry experience yet, as well as personally learning ways to maximize productivity through the use of automation tools to run my business," Gibbs said. "Marc provided his proven, recommended resources and productivity tools to help automate my office and the lead generation process. Most companies are only going to educate you on their way of doing business.
"But sooner or later, any quality MLS is going to find it on their own anyway. Why not provide them with as much information as you have to give so they may go about it in their own way? In the end, they will thank you and repay you with their loyalty. I found that Marc is extremely articulate, knowledgeable and professional about the industry, and he shares that information freely. I can't tell you how much I wish I had found it when I started working as an MLS."
Since 2003, Performance Training Systems, in conjunction with the Bankcard Boot Camp, has trained over 3,000 MLSs and ISOs. Beauchamp holds approximately six four-week training sessions every year. In addition to his combination online/teleconferencing options, he offers private Boot Camp training sessions to larger ISOs in a live or teleconference presentation format.
"I've had groups with 20 or 30 people from organization's who don't want people from all over the country on the phone," Beauchamp said. "They just want a private training environment for their folks, which I am happy to accommodate. And I don't just share the good stuff. I share all the mistakes I've made out in the field as well. I've been down some roads that had dead ends, but I learned from those, remained flexible and figured out a way to make it work."
Beauchamp said it is his passion to make a positive contribution by sharing his knowledge and experience to help people in the payments industry thrive. "Knowledge is power, yes, but the ultimate power is knowledge acted upon," he said. "Even the best strategies won't be successful unless they are proactively implemented. Zig Ziglar said, 'If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.' I try to practice that in everything I do, and so far it seems to be working."
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