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North American Bancard
Sunday, April 05 2020

With our continuously changing situation due to COVID-19, we wanted to make you aware of some things we are seeing related to fraudsters, as well as provide helpful information on government relief programs.

We have started to see an increase in cyber fraud, including:

  • Card scammers who are trying to get merchants to accept stolen cards and wire the funds to another party, in some cases up to $250,000.00.
  • Phishing emails designed to entice merchants with the latest advice related to COVID-19, or to open for urgent instructions from their boss that are filled with malware merchants unwittingly download.
  • Malicious apps (such as CovidLock) that purport to help track infections and provide advice, but are in actuality ransomware that will lock a merchant’s device until a ransom is paid to the criminals.

We encourage merchants to protect themselves from these fraudulent scams by practicing good cyber hygiene, including making sure their terminal and router/WiFi devices are up-to-date and that they are using secure and known connections. We will remain diligent in apprising you and your merchants of the latest cyber scams, while carefully monitoring your merchants’ processing activity to protect your portfolio.

As the ability to conduct normal business activities continues to be disrupted for our existing merchants, we are seeing scenarios which lead to reduced earnings for you, and the potential for credit losses from our merchants. To protect you, our merchants, and ourselves from these occurrences, we will be keeping a closer eye on merchants who:

  • Are in MCCs that have greater exposure.
  • Illustrate financial loss via ACH rejects.
  • Have extended future service liability.

Our Enterprise Risk Management team will be modifying some merchants’ setups to minimize these impacts. Changes our merchants could see may include: a reduction in the return processing window, delayed funding when a batch is a negative amount, fee billing on a daily instead of monthly frequency, standard vs. next-day funding, and reserves if ACH rejects occur.

For new merchants that you enroll, we will make sure to review the MCC and their future service liability and approve items like daily discount and next-day funding accordingly. Keep an eye on the approval notes to see how each MID is approved.

If you would like to see a list of any merchants in your portfolio that may be impacted by these measures, please contact your Partner Relations Advisor.

We’ll also be informing your merchants about a number of different governmental programs that they, and you, can take advantage of during these trying times.

To give you a brief overview, the aid available includes:

  • The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or CARES Act), which contains several provisions aimed at helping small businesses, including expedited, low-interest individual loans of up to $10 million.
  • Paycheck Protection Loans that cover up to 8 weeks of payroll or qualified expenses incurred from February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) which provide up to a $2 million low-interest loan for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. If you or your merchants apply for an EIDL, you could even obtain an emergency grant (an advance of the loan) which can be used for payroll, sick leave, rent or mortgage payments, and so forth.
  • SBA Express Loans — maximum loan amount increased from $350,000 to $1 million with interest deferred for 1 year and repayment terms of up to 10 years.
Wednesday, April 01 2020

Due to the unprecedented environment we are now facing, the card brands have decided to delay their April pricing modifications. In an effort to minimize the burden to our merchants, we will be changing the timeframe for our own pricing changes to the dates listed below to coincide with the card brands:

  1. Pricing updates will now go into effect July 1st (instead of the previously stated date of April 1st) for monthly discount merchants and August 1st (previously May 1st) for daily discount merchants. Dates subject to change.
  2. A pricing freeze will go into effect on or around June 15th, which will last until August 2nd.

We will stop any pricing change statement messages from going out that we can and will resend them when applicable. The opt out/exception list that was due 3.10.20 (when the original pricing freeze went into effect) will still be used once we are ready to introduce our pricing changes.

We will remain vigilant when it comes to our pricing to ensure that it remains competitive, even in these most challenging of times.

Wednesday, March 25 2020

During these uncertain times, we will be reaching out to merchants offering the tips below, including:

 

Reminding them that their Virtual Terminal (accessible through Payments Hub) can be used to take over-the-phone payments.
   
Seeing if they’re set up for emailable invoices with AutoPay enabled.
   
Checking that they have the necessary solutions to accept mobile and ecommerce payments including mobile card readers and payment gateway access.
   
Giving them a "how-to" refresher on any payment solutions they already have in place.
   
Helping them set up any new solutions they may need to compete during this unprecedented time.
   
Encouraging them to clean their POS equipment (including PIN Pads) as often as possible with Center for Disease Control-approved cleaners.
Be on the lookout for an invitation to our Combating COVID-19 solutions webinar later this week.
Saturday, March 21 2020

With the rate at which the COVID-19 situation is changing, we wanted to provide you an important operational update, which includes our efforts to protect your income and maximize your bonus earnings.

We continue to be committed to you and your merchants and are fully operational across all departments of the organization. Our top priority remains supporting your existing portfolio and helping you board new clients.

We realize that merchants being forced to limit their hours of operation or close their doors completely will cause processing volume to suffer. We also realize this reduced volume will directly impact your 14x True Up Bonus earnings. That said, for any merchants whose first full month of processing is March or April, we will be extending the eligible True Up Bonus period until May!

For all activated merchants whose true up month is March or April, we will run the true up process as normal and pay you if earnings are greater than what your upfront bonus is. If the true up process generates a negative amount, we will not collect this with March or April True Up Bonuses.

Once May processing occurs, we will again run the true up process and pay you any additional funds earned based on May’s volume, which we are confident will represent all merchants’ proper processing activity. At this time we will process any due true downs for merchants activated in March, April, or May, if required.

To accommodate this change and limit upfront payments for merchants who have not activated due to the current situation, we will be temporarily suspending upfront bonuses paid on approval with merchants submitted 3.2.20 onward and instead, pay all upfront bonuses on activation. We expect this change to be temporary and will reassess it in 60 days.

We’re confident that these adjustments will provide you with the maximum bonus potential per MID, while preventing any underpayment due to reduced processing volumes in March and April.

Monday, March 09 2020

There are lots of reasons why building a merchant services business can be extremely lucrative, not the least of which is the fact that you can build a lasting asset (your residuals), which you can then sell. In fact, I spoke to someone in the industry today, and he was telling me all about his plan when he leaves the business and how he's planning to sell his residuals. What that conversation made me realize, though, is that lots of people underestimate the power of those residuals. The best thing you can do with this income is to use it as capital.

To be able to sell your business in the long-run, you need to make sure that you start the business the right way in the first place. There are some major things you're going to have to take into consideration so that your company is able to grow:

1) Own your portfolio's residuals. Maybe this seems very transparently obvious to you; after all, what's the point if you don't own your source of income? However, it's not uncommon that merchant services agents will lose their entire portfolio simply because they did not read the agreement that they made with their processor closely enough. You should always consider what might happen if you just decide to stop selling; if the answer is that you will lose your hard-earned residuals, then choose another partner.

2) Be able to sell your residuals. If you can't sell something, do you really own it, then? Sometimes processors will require you to have to consider an offer from them before selling to an outsider, and that's fine, but just make sure you are free to choose.

3) Find out if you can borrow cash against your residuals. A large merchant services ISO that isn't operating as a middle man should be able to lend you money. If they can't, this is a problem. Usually, you're going to want to exhaust several options before a buyout, and this includes borrowing.

So let's assume you have all of these issues squared away and are the proud owner of a growing portfolio of accounts. Now you can start to use that asset to raise some capital!

Before you do anything else, though, take a look at these general guidelines that will help you get a better picture of what is going on when the selling occurs:

Do you qualify? Don't bother trying to pump any cash from your portfolio before you have at least two dozen accounts or so. Make sure that your accounts are making at least $1000 every month as well. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who would want to buy residuals less than this.

Performing a buyout: When you perform an 100% upfront buyout, you'll get about 12 to 20 times the monthly worth of the accounts that you're selling. This is a rough estimate, but adjust your expectations accordingly.

Performing an earn-out: Basically, this is the same as a buyout, except you get less upfront. Some of the money is upfront, and the rest is sent to you in increments with the stipulation that your accounts don't get canceled and that they continue brining in a certain amount of money. This will yield you more than a buyout in the long run—about 20 to 24 times your monthly income.

Performing a secure buyout: Let's say you have a significantly-sized portfolio and you only want to sell some of your residuals. You can sell some of those accounts, and then use your others as collateral essentially to guarantee against any cancellations. This means less risk for the processor, so they are usually willing to pay more.

Getting a loan: Maybe you just need to borrow some liquid cash and use your residuals as a guarantee. Most ISOs can do this for you. Usually, you can borrow anywhere from a few months to up to a year's worth of residuals. The terms will vary depending on your partner company. Since of course your merchant services ISO will be interested in minimizing risk, just show that you are using the funds to grow, and you'll have a better chance at getting the deal you want. Your ISO will also usually offer better terms than outside lenders.

Did this article help you learn more about how to turn your portfolio into a machine that pumps out capital? Do you have a portfolio that you're looking to use right now for these sorts of purposes? Contact us and we'll show you the way.

Article by Shaw Merchant Group

Thursday, March 05 2020
Business management tools.
The new Payments Hub is here!

 

Let's take a look at the redesigned business management section.

 

Employees
Your merchants can add an employee and then the employee will get an email to create their login credentials. They will click on a current employee to edit their information or adjust their role down the line.
   
Hardware & Supplies
Merchants can order additional hardware, accessories, and supplies right from the portal.
   
Business Settings
Here merchants can manage their account and set preferences.
   
User Settings
Located just below the Business section is the User Settings tab seen above. Here merchants can control their contact information, update their email and password when needed, and enable two factor authentication for added account security.
Tuesday, February 25 2020

In this industry, you will often hear the words “merchant services agents,” “Member Service Providers,” and “Independent Sales Organizations” used in a similar context, as if all three of these things are the same. The truth is that these terms actually refer to distinct roles in the credit card processing business. If this seems confusing to you, don't worry; all of these terms will be explained in this article, as well as their relationships to the credit card associations. We will also go over how you might go about becoming a merchant services ISO or an MSP.

After we've sorted all of that out, we'll go over what the advantages and disadvantages are of working in the industry as each of these roles. Getting an idea ahead of time of what each of these entails will hopefully save you from making a lot of mistakes early on in your business ventures.

What Every Term Means - First of all, let's get everything perfectly clear by defining the terms that we've mentioned so far:

ISO (Independent Sales Organization) – This is basically the credit card processor, the company that serves as the middle man between the credit card companies and the merchant. It will often provide terminals to the merchants, as well as tech support, training, and customer service. Another common term for this is “merchant service company.”

MSP (Member Service Provider) – ISO is a term often used by Visa, and so MSP is basically MasterCard's version of this. They both mean roughly the same thing. However, to make things a little more obscure, MasterCard also uses the term ISO, but it means something different. Basically, in their case, an ISO offers services that are not processing and transaction services, like customer service and lead generation. For our purposes, though, don't worry too much about these subtle distinctions. They are basically the same thing. For the sake of simplicity, let's just assume that we're including MSPs when we use the term “ISO” from now on.

Sales Agent – This role is completely different from the above mentioned roles. A merchant services agent is a third party that sells the services of merchant services ISOs and MSPs. Since merchant services companies often like to concentrate on processing credit cards and offering POS solutions, they will contract sales agents to find merchants to work with. A sales agent doesn't have to pay the high association fees like an merchant services ISO does, but he can't do business in his own name and have a merchant services ISO program with an ISO or MSP company.

What is the Relationship Between an ISO / MSP / Sales Agent and the Processing Banks? - You probably realize that merchant services ISOs are not banks, and that these organizations need banks to ultimately perform the transactions. Every merchant services ISO will need a sponsoring bank, one who is a member of Visa and MasterCard's respective associations. In practice, these banks will usually not take on small merchant service companies, and actually most merchant services ISOs use larger ISOs as intermediaries between them and the banks.

A merchant services ISO program can also have several sponsor banks. Though this can be extra costly, it also gives merchant services ISOs the advantage of being able to take on different kinds of merchants. For example, some banks might be averse to what they see as “high-risk” businesses, while others are not (though these usually charge higher fees).

By the way, these sponsoring banks don't really need merchant services ISOs at the end of the day. They could cut out the middle men and sell directly to merchants if they wished, but most of these companies prefer to focus their energies on processing transactions and don't want to bother with customer service and other issues.

If you're curious about what acquiring bank a given ISO uses, simply check out their website. They are actually required to make this information public, and it will usually be apparent in the footer of the page.

Now, how about sales agents? Well, agents are indeed registered with the credit card associations, but of course it is much less complex and expensive than it is for ISOs. Sales agents are basically contractors and the ISOs that they work with usually take care of the heavy lifting when it comes to paperwork.

How Do ISOs Go About Registering With Visa and MasterCard? - If you're an ISO, you'll have to swim through a rough sea of bureaucracy before your business can start processing credit cards. First, you need to find a bank that is a member of the credit card associations—usually both, but sometimes one—and you need to show the bank that you know what you're doing.

The banks will have to put you through a vetting process before the Associations are comfortable taking you on. You will usually have to submit all kinds of information on your business, and what type of business you are running, whether it is a “high risk” business, and what sort of services you provide to customers can all be a factor.

Usually, the bank and credit card companies will want to see:

  • Your financial history
  • Your business plan
  • Incorporation documents
  • Who your agents are
  • Promotional material that you use to sell

After all of that is squared, you'd be required to pay $5,000 for each of the credit card associations. This is a yearly fee, by the way, and your application gets reevaluated every year as well. By contrast, an agent pays a bit of pocket change—maybe $50 once a year—to stay in business.

Should You Be an ISO or a Sales Agent? Which is Better? - Now, you might be curious about what path to take when it comes to your merchant services business. Should you become a merchant services ISO, or take the safer and cheaper route and become a merchant services agent? Really, it comes down to your revenue. Do you have the sufficient merchant volume to be able to afford all of the crazy fees that ISOs have to pay? Then maybe it would be worth the trouble for you. If not, you should probably stick to the path of a sales agent, at least until you have more capital.

Becoming an ISO might seem really expensive and complicated to you right now, so you might be wondering why you would even want to become one. Well, basically you have the potential to make way more money. As a merchant services ISO, you are working directly with the processing banks (or at least with a larger ISO that is working with the banks), so you get a very low price in terms of transaction costs because there are less middle men between you and the bank. Your profit margins are higher than that of a merchant services sales agent. Merchant services sales agents get less of a share and they also have higher fees to deal with. It's like the difference between wholesale and retail, to give a somewhat awkward analogy.

However, not everything is rainbows and sunshine when it comes to being a merchant services ISO. There is a lot of responsibility and a lot of bank fees to dodge, things that sales agents don't really worry about. For example, you would need to watch out for so-called minimum processing fees. Basically, these are fees that the bank will charge you if you don't make a certain amount of transaction fees. Even worse, some banks will increase these fees year after year, and you will lose your residuals if you can't keep up. In fact, you might even have to pay a penalty out of your own pocket!

In order to avoid these minimum fees, you need to have a substantial portfolio of merchants. The minimum threshold that you are required to meet may be thousands of dollars, and since you're making pennies per transaction, you're going to need a huge volume of transactions. This is why it's not very wise to become an ISO if you have no experience in the business and no clients yet. It is just too risky.

As mentioned, the bank can also decide to increase the minimum every year, so that you're constantly trying to catch-up. This can be bad news for you because you can lose everything that you worked for. It's hard to escape having minimum fees of some kind, but steer clear from the kind of agreement that increases it every year if you can.

There are also some companies that will require you to sign up a certain minimum amount of new merchants per month, or you could lose all of your residuals. Don't sign up for such a deal, either, or you could see all of your income disappear quickly through no real fault of your own.

What We Have Learned - What's the best way to get started, then? Well, like anything else, that really depends on you and where you are with your business. If you're starting from square one, it's advisable to avoid the risks of becoming an ISO, and to simply stick to being a sales agent until you have decent enough income. There's something to be said about gaining experience and learning the business as well. No matter what you do, make sure to read every single contract before you sign anything so that you can avoid being taken for a ride. Don't jump into anything until you are ready. If you're not confident enough to negotiate with sponsor banks, then don't become an ISO just yet and spend some time as a sales agent building up your portfolio. Take things slow and you will avoid costly mistakes.

Monday, January 27 2020

Do you know if you really own your credit card processing residuals? The best way to find out is to ask your credit card processor if they want to buy you out—that is, purchase some of your future income steams. If you need fast cash, this is a great way to go. Let's look at some of the details:

For example, what if you closed twenty deals in October, and each of those yielded $50 in profit. If you have a 50% split, then your residuals would be $25 for each account per month. This makes for about $500 dollars a month total in residuals, which is $6,000 dollars per year. Not bad, right? Especially considering that your portfolio will only increase from there.

Just like any other asset, you can sell your merchant portfolio, though. If you need cash upfront, you can sell the right to this long-term passive income to your processor. How much would they pay? Well, typically, they will pay the same as about 15 months of your residuals, which in this case is $7,500. And then they would pay you another $4,500 throughout the year ($500 x 9), depending on the retention of your accounts. That's a pretty handsome amount for closing just 20 accounts.

There are some rules to consider when you're doing a buyout, though, so let's take a look at some individual guidelines:

1.) First, the residuals need to be from a merchant account that has been activated for awhile—at least a month, but more often around three months. Why? Consider this: your processor will decide what to pay you based on the average income generated over the past three months. You don't want one or two of those months to be a 0.

2.) Selling your residuals shouldn't affect your upfront payment for closing the deal.

3.) You're more likely to get that second payment if less accounts cancel, so sometimes it's better to sell more accounts to your processor to increase your chances. Another thing you can do is to get a buyout that is 100% upfront, though usually this isn't as lucrative in the long run.

Do you feel like you're a bit more familiar with buyouts now? The above guidelines are good things to keep in mind, but how do you know when a buyout would be helpful?

1.) To break your fall when you're first getting started. Running a business can be a difficult challenge and sometimes this requires putting money upfront. It might be fine to work off savings and initial capital for a few months, but eventually you're going to have to start earning income from your business to be able to avoid running out of money. If expansion is happening slower that you thought and you need some money to put into savings or to invest in your business when you're brand new to the industry, a buyout may just help you find the liquid cash that you need without having to go into debt.

2) When you need stability. You might be tempted to go with a buyout as a way to pay for the cost of growing—for example, getting a fancy advertising campaign going, or moving to a bigger office—but don't do it. Selling your residuals is not a long-term strategy, so it should not be used to meet long-term goals like growth. You may have more money upfront, but it will obviously lower the amount of your monthly residuals. It is not worth it; the point of this business it to build your monthly income over time. Only perform a buyout when you really need liquid cash upfront to put out a fire and return your business to the status quo—not to add more complexities and growth.

When shouldn't you sell your merchant residuals? Well, there are a few situations where it's not recommended:

  • When you want to slow your business down / take time off. The buyout is something of an emergency options—it's not meant to help you relax. In fact, it is taking monthly income away from your business!
  • If you are tempted to sell more than how fast you are growing. You should always be able to replenish what you lost within a few months. If not, then don't do the buyout. Your goal should be to get those residuals coming in again. Still curious about how buyouts work? Leave a comment below.

Article Posted By: Shaw Merchant Group

Tuesday, December 31 2019

Though you might hear the term ISO (Independent Sales Organization) used a lot in the merchant services business, people don't always use it accurately. Let's take a look at what this term actually means according to credit card companies and banks.

What is an ISO? - Basically, a merchant services ISO program is an entity (a company or a person) who is not a MasterCard or Visa member bank—also known in general as Association members—yet they have a relationship with these banks. This can mean many things. For example, they may find new customers, offer customer service to the merchants, or sell terminals to them.

What is an MSP? - An MSP (Member Service Provider) is more or less similar to a credit card processing ISO program, though this isn't always exactly the case. An MSP is more of a “middle man” usually, a company that is often not an Association member, but who provides services to members.

What Do ISOs and MSPs Do For Their Banks? - First of all, remember that neither MSPs nor merchant services ISOs are actually banks. The MSP / ISO will contract a processing bank to do this, and each MSP / ISO must have this kind of relationship with a bank to be able to process credit cards.

Under normal circumstances, the acquiring bank will be an Association member with both Visa and Mastercard, and they usually register for both at the same time. ISOs in turn can have relationships with more than one bank. By the way, these processing banks can also engage in vertical integration and become their own ISOs. This isn't common, though, and normally they will just specialize in processing credit cards, since it takes a lot of resources to draw in leads all the time.

An ISO is required to disclose their processing bank on their brochures, website, and other material. Usually, these are somewhere inconspicuous, like the bottom of a page.

How Does an ISO / MSP Register with the Credit Card Companies? - It's not exactly easy. First, the merchant services ISO needs to find a processing bank that will serve as a sponsor. Next, the merchant services ISO has to demonstrate to the companies that they have the means to perform their duties. Afterwards, there's lots of paperwork to do. For example, a merchant services ISO program might have to provide:

  • Financial statements / tax returns
  • Incorporation documents
  • Their business plan
  • Their sales material
  • A list of their sales agents

On top of all of that, the owners of the companies will also have their credit checked.

What Kind of Fees Does an ISO / MSP Have to Pay For Registration? Once they are actually approved, the fees are $10,000 upfront. These fees are paid every year as well, as part of a review process.

What Are So-Called Sales Agents? - Many times it's helpful for merchant services ISOs to have an independent sales team, so they will hire sales agents to find interested merchants. According to MasterCard, a sales agent is someone who provides services to a member, but isn't an MSP. In other words, sales agents don't have to be Association members, since the merchant services ISO program is the one that takes care of the processing. Sales agents have to be registered, however, though the fee is quite negligible—something like $50 every year. Sales agents, though functioning somewhat independently, can't advertise as a service provider and have to use the name of their merchant services company.

What Option Works Best? - Is it enough to be a merchant services sales agent? Or should you consider becoming a merchant services ISO or MSP, even though it requires going through all that bureaucratic process? Like anything else, this really depends. How much processing volume do you have? Obviously, you get a better price per transaction as a merchant services ISO, so you'll need to make some calculations and decide for yourself whether the increased profit margin is worth the overhead costs.

Be cautious, though, when looking at proposals from processing banks. There might be some fine print in there that can come back to haunt you. Specifically, look for fees that might cut into your profit, such as minimum processing fees. Minimum processing fees are charged when transaction fees during a certain period don't reach a minimum threshold.

These minimum processing fees can sometimes be really exorbitant, so watch out for them. Sometimes they can run into tens of thousands of dollars per month, and if you can't come up with the transaction fees, you'll be paying the difference yourself.

If you don't have a large portfolio yet, this can really harm you. Let's say the minimum processing fee for you is $6,000 every month. Let's say that, like many ISO's, you make an average of between $0.07 to $0.09 for every transaction. You would basically need to make 66,600 to 85,700 transactions on a monthly basis just to reach the minimum, which is unfeasible if you are a brand new company.

Usually, your processing bank will give you a period of time to build up your clientèle, however. If you think you can manage to reach a volume that surpasses the minimum processing fees by this time, then go right ahead and become a merchant services ISO. However, make sure that you calculate everything very carefully.

By the way, since you're kind of expected to increase volume over time, the whole minimum processing fee can increase as well. That's right, a bank can progressively charge you more and more. For example, they may have given you a minimum fee of $4,000 in year 1, but every year that your contract renews, they might increase it by a lot—maybe even by the original amount, so that you're paying $4,000 more every subsequent year.

You can probably see why this would be a problem. Your fees are growing linearly, but your portfolio might not be. In fact, it is unlikely that your business would be able to support that amount of growth every year, unless your company is just so great that people are abandoning their merchant service agreements just to work with you. Either way, never sign an agreement that has fine print like this. Fees that increase like this are not very sustainable and you may get ripped off in the end.

Another (Not Great) Alternative - One thing you can do is to try to find a small bank that doesn't have any minimum fees at all. The problem here, though, is that their pricing might not be as good of a deal as larger processing banks, and their service might not be as reliable.

Besides, these smaller processors often have their own version of a minimum fee requirement—instead of transactions, they require you to bring in a certain number of new clients per month. If you don't comply, then you could stand to lose your residuals. In other words, you could have worked for years to build up a portfolio of dozens of merchants, and you could be bringing in a huge volume for your bank. You might have built up to tens of thousands of dollars per month for yourself, but your bank requires you to bring in five new merchants, and you only brought in four.

What happens? You lose all of your income, just like that. Does that sound fair to you? Your processor still has all of those accounts, but you are left in the dust. It's not really “passive income” if you have to keep adding a certain arbitrary amount of merchants per month, is it?

Conclusions - All of this can be confusing if you are new, but you can probably draw a few conclusions from it and get an idea of your game plan. To put it simply, if I had to start in this business over again knowing what I know now, I would just pick a large ISO and become a merchant services agent for them. This would help me learn about the industry and build up some income, and I wouldn't be risking falling victim to some fine print from my processing banks, or having to pay huge fees just to stay in business. I would work with several merchant services ISOs until I had decided which one was the best fit for me long-term.

After that, I would stop working with all of the other merchant services ISOs and concentrate on the best one exclusively until my volume had increased substantially. Once I thought I could pay all of the entry fees, I would consider becoming a merchant services ISO myself. I would speak with my merchant services ISO and see if they have a sponsorship program. Either way, I would shop around and be a hard negotiator, and not settle with a sponsor until I had a fair deal that I could actually work with.

Last, I'd hire an attorney to look over the paperwork. Yes, attorneys can be expensive, but in a business like this they are worth their weight in gold. You don't want to sign something without understanding all of the ramifications. Once that was settled and the deal seemed right, only then would I sign the agreement.

Wednesday, December 25 2019

If you have past sales experience, that's often a plus, but a lot of the time there can be aspects of your past that will give you a disadvantage. For example, if you used to sell mortgages, you didn't have to worry too much about creating a sense of urgency, since people were already a little desperate because their new house was on the line. It's not too different if you're selling the actual houses either; if someone has sought out a real estate agent, they're looking to buy. The same goes with selling cars, since many of the people who are coming to you really need a new one and can't go very long without transportation. Your job would be a lot harder if you had to go up to random people on the street—or worse, random people getting out of their cars in a parking garage—and ask them if they needed a new car. Sounds ridiculous? Well, this is basically what your life is like when you're selling merchant services. This is why the mindset is completely different in this field.

Obviously, there are positive and negative aspects to this. Once you have convinced a merchant that he'd do better to change to your plan, making the actual deal is usually smooth. Just don't mess up, and you'll have a good closing rate. Another great aspect of this business is that once you convince a merchant that they need to change their processor, they will probably buy those services from you and not another random merchant services agent. This is all great, but unfortunately creating the sense of urgency that will get them to make a change is one of your biggest challenges.

Let's take a look at these guidelines that will help you create more urgency in your prospects:

1) More prospects = more sales. You are going to have to accept that you will have to deal with a much higher volume of prospects than in other fields to close a decent amount of deals. If you used to sell mortgages, for instance, your conversion rate is probably high—maybe as high as 1/3 of your prospects. A big reason as to why this is comes down to the fact that your clients already have decided what they want to buy and are coming to you for help.

If you find a quality lead, the conversion rate is actually about the same when you're in merchant services, but the problem is that you will have to go through many people to find quality leads. You might walk into two dozen stores, but only find yourself able to talk to 20% of the owners, and only 10% of the stores you walked into had genuinely good prospects. A good prospect is someone who realizes that they could use your services and is eager to explore the options. This is why you shouldn't get discouraged if you find that you're having to visit tons of businesses just to make some progress. This is how the game is played.

2) Take it a step at a time. When you first make your pitch, you want them to reach a point of understanding that they need to make a change; don't rush them into make the full decision just yet. Your job at first is just to convince them that they would be better off with another service. Yes, you might be able to convince them of this and close the deal in the same session after you've had some practice, but these are still distinct steps. Just make sure that you don't make the assumption that the merchant wants a different processor—at the moment, they're probably not even thinking about it. You will have to convince them. The problem of course is that most merchants don't even think of this as a problem. They already put together their processing solution and they don't need to worry about it anymore, as far as they are concerned. They would rather put their attention elsewhere.

How can you overcome that default resistance and make them open to the possibility of switching? Well, you should show them that you're not trying to throw a wrench in their plans or rip them off. Let them know that you are only showing them how much they could save if they reconsider, and that they can use your service if they want to. Try to focus on convincing them that they need to switch more than that they need to go with you specifically. Tell the client straight up that you are not interested in signing them up that day. They should be under the impression that you are interested in getting to know their needs better, and that you are merely opening them up to the cost-saving possibilities of finding a better credit card processing agent program.

3) Have some kind of bonus or offer. People like being just in time for “special” deals, and this can create a huge sense of urgency if it is available only for a limited time. Since you will have to get them out of that “analysis paralysis” mode and into a decision, it will help them to focus on closing the deal if you have some kind of time limit like that. As soon as you convince them that they need to make a change, you can start discussing your various juicy offers. Let's look at a few different routes that you could take:

Give them a Free Cash Gift – They may be a business owner, but chances are that they're pouring all of their personal resources into the business. It may not seem like much, but offering them something like a gift card or cash back when they make their account will certainly entice them. Make sure to start out letting them know that they won't have to pay any fees upfront if you work with a free terminal program or something similar, and then throw the free money on top of that to sweeten the deal. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of money—just 100 dollars will suffice—and you can easily take this out of your upfront signing bonus. Make it a point to mention this deal in your advertising. Basically, the merchant has nothing to lose here, and will actually make money upfront from the deal.

Give them a free terminal – Believe it or not, there are still merchant services ISOs out there that do not offer free terminals with their deals. This can be for a number of reasons, but generally-speaking you want to steer clear of these companies when you're choosing a partner. Make sure that there is an option to offer a free terminal to the merchant, since this removes a major upfront cost. Much of the resistance that you will encounter has to do with these upfront costs and whether or not the merchant has the liquid cash to cover them. Bring a terminal in personally if you can to show them an example of what they can have for free. Tell them you're offering it temporarily. Guarantee Them Monthly Savings – You need to first consult with them and look at how much they pay in fees to pull this one off. Tell them that you can save them a certain amount of basis points per month of the competitors. Find out how much processing they do, and multiply it by however many basis points you are claiming to save them. Just make sure that you don't work with very large merchants here, or else it could cost you too much money.

Once you have established how much they are going to save with you per month, make sure to zoom out and show them the big picture. Tell them how much they are going to save over the course of a year or two years. Discuss these big, long-term numbers instead of the tiny savings of 10 or 20 dollars that you might be able to pull off every month. These bigger numbers are certainly more motivating, and will get them to consider your offer much more readily, especially if some of the other offers above are included.

Hopefully, these tips have enlightened you at least a little bit as to how you can create urgency in your prospects. Do you still have questions? Let us know! Contact us anytime and we will be happy to help you.


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