By Jordan Olivas
RS Software Inc.
The ISO model has been around for decades, and for some time, the market has been saturated with merchant level salespeople (MLSs) who have been provided little to no training. With inadequate sales skills and insufficient industry and product knowledge, these agents flood merchant businesses with cold calls promising lower rates ‒ an old practice that is a losing proposition in today's world, where savvy ISOs are developing new programs and partnerships that provide merchants a host of impressive business services ‒ enabling them to more easily land new accounts and retain the ones they have.
If you're an ISO seeking to motivate your MLS partners to stop selling on price and embrace the new payments landscape, this article contains three ways you can evolve and take your business to the next level.
There are agents in this business who became ISOs, then became processors, and are now looking to possibly becoming issuers. The big differential between them and others is in their vision and willingness to invest in technology to drive margins and sales totals up ‒ and to not continue with the status quo.
Even if you are a smaller ISO with only 1,000 merchants, you may want to look into a merchant boarding platform that can allow for faster onboarding and a customized user experience for your agents. In addition, this can be a great first step toward becoming a processor. There are myriad solutions on the market, but certain companies offer licensed solutions that provide flexibility that may not be available with other providers. Other technology investments you may want to consider are building a gateway or creating your own intranet where your agents can get all of their needs met in one place.
Processors are willing to win your business. Over the past five years, some major processors have either made large acquisitions or built their own homegrown systems. If you're not quite ready to develop your own proprietary technology, you may want to reach out to companies like Pineapple Payments, TSYS, First Data Corp., Base Commerce LLC, and Global Payments Inc. to see what they have to offer and see how it compares with your current processing relationship(s).
By evaluating current and potential partnerships, you will also grab a glimpse into what your competitors are doing. Did you know that certain platforms offer a built-in loyalty platform while others do not? By doing this, you can also better prepare yourself for some of the objections your MLSs may encounter.
The need for thorough training seems obvious, but many ISOs provide only a few hours of instruction or access to a training library that has no accountability tied to it. When you bring on new agents, spend a day or two with them to help them understand your business and your services. Once you have gone over some cold calls together, let them access your online training section, and create an accountable follow-up plan to ensure they understand the material.
And don't forget that being there for them during cold calls or on-site visits helps your new MLSs understand how they should conduct conversations when they are representing your company.
From a technology perspective, it may be worth investing in a learning management system to help organize some of the basic training modules you have, such as how to use your email, customer relationship management and merchant boarding platforms.
Because you have been in business for so long, use of these tools may seem intuitive or based on common sense. For others, especially those new to the payments industry, this may not be so.
Jordan Olivas is a Director at RS Software Inc., a company that helps ISOs, banks, terminal, acquirers and bill pay companies become technology leaders in the payments space by increasing margins and operational efficiency through custom software. development, gateways, EMV certification, consulting, merchant boarding solutions, and testing tools. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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