By Tom Waters
Bank Associates Merchant Services
The highest grossing ISOs have several strong revenue engines that have been established and fortified over many years. In the merchant services arena, a revenue engine is any process created in which the end result leads to a new client or approval: a formula for productivity.
When trying to replicate the success of industry leaders, it is easy to become intimidated by the order of magnitude in which they operate. However, at the core of their successful processes are simply relationships that have been established for the mutual benefit of all members involved. The hard part is deconstructing those relationships to find patterns so you can begin to build your own relationships and grow them to be just as strong.
To establish the right flow when building out an ISO, you first have to prioritize your workload throughout the day. If the field of merchant services is your vehicle to financial freedom, then consider prospecting to be your engine. Prospecting is the act of cultivating relationships. If you are not fueling or building on your engine, you are simply coasting along and losing speed.
The life of the merchant level salesperson (MLS) can grow hectic at times. Throughout the day, it can be very easy to get caught up engaging in activities that look like work but are actually just distractions in disguise.
Momentum is your greatest ally during the workday, and once you learn to time your strides, you can ride waves of momentum through days, weeks and months.
Have you ever wondered how some agents are able to put a couple of seemingly random applications in over the weekend? Many agents can feel like they are working just as hard comparably, but the deals just aren't dropping as consistently. Well, by building up the right momentum, you can make it look easy too.
If you are spending too much time responding to "emergencies" and focusing too much attention on a handful of relationships that may seem especially important, you are actually throttling your true earning potential.
There comes a point where these types of activities start keeping you from focusing on the fundamental processes that will bring in actual revenue. It can be difficult to notice, but it's important to be task-sensitive and to limit the time you spend acting as if you are selling as the day whizzes past and you achieve no real productivity.
Drafting well crafted and long winded emails, traveling to distant territories, engaging a particular prospect or client for too long - all seem like productive work.
Looking back on a rash of these activities after a long day may give an agent a sense of accomplishment. While they certainly are important processes for cultivating a strong pipeline, is it really prospecting? If you boil these activities down to see whether they provide a net gain, you will often find there are far better ways to spend your time.
You will always have to spend some time working on such activities, but the key point here is to learn how to properly organize and batch them into clusters in order to sustain momentum in more productive areas.
Often, as MLSs, no one is challenging you to raise the bar once you hit a benchmark. You are likely paving your own path in the merchant services industry. Your chosen mentors are usually caught up with their own workload and have limited time in which to offer daily insights or corrections about your performance.
The burden of self-motivation often grows heavy and slowly debilitates, scarcely noticed. It is important to acknowledge where you are spending your energy and focus as much as you can on the tasks that will directly monetize your input.
Exploring and fortifying new relationships with business owners and other potential agents of commerce are the only things that can be drawn directly to your productivity. There is an easy way to track this. Ask yourself, What is the most productive thing I've done today? Set that question as a calendar reminder in your cell phone to pop up at the end of your work day.
Take the exercise seriously; recall the things you did that actually moved one or more deals or relationships forward. How many new relationships did you create during the day? How many existing relationships did you advance? If your numbers are low, it should be for very important reasons.
Over time, those numbers will be ticking upward even on days you take off. Once you recruit enough referral partners and affiliates and you have built a solid reputation among your clients and community, you will be on your way to building a legitimate series of revenue engines.
Now that you can observe your work habits from a top-down level by quantifying your daily activities, you can begin to explore and tinker with the habits that will best bring in more business.
The different formulas you can apply to grow your approval counts are pretty basic. They do, however, require subtle and complex elements of relationship-building such as establishing trust and exuding professionalism.
In my next article, I will cover a number of formulas that are fundamental to growing an ISO, as well as the common mistakes that are made when building them. The revenue engines I will recommend can be used to form the foundation of your work schedule and establish the framework of your sales operations.
Since 2001, Tom Waters has risen through the ranks of merchant service sales. He is responsible for cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs in information technology, accounting, sales and marketing in his role as Sales Director of Bank Associates Merchant Services (www.bams.com). His open door policy for advice on pipeline and client management has been the source of many new and profitable relationships. Using fresh and matter-of-fact training methods, Tom has contributed to the success of thousands of agents, affiliates and clients. He can be reached via email through email@example.com or via phone at 347-651-1065.
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