Helping an individual sales rep or sales team increase merchant services submissions is not a mystery to me.  I have helped hundreds of merchant services reps as well as ISOs increase their submissions, but I have never before shared my simple 4-step process for doing so.  The process is not complicated.  If you implement this process, I guarantee it will dramatically increase your submissions.

There are three types of goals you need to set in order to maximize your performance.  Unlike most books and materials that are based on a top down, “make your dreams a reality” approach, I like a bottom up, “have a realistic dream” approach.  This method of goal setting always works over time and provides consistent improvement.  Use this strategy to gradually but steadily increase your submissions.

#1 – Plan your actions.  These must be 100% within your control, and all goals must start with actions.  How many hours per day do you want to devote to prospecting?  What do you plan to do with those hours?  A good example of action goals would be, “I am going to prospect for twenty hours a week, which means four hours each weekday.  During that time I will walk into a minimum of twenty businesses per day.”  So, your action goal here would be that you will either walk into twenty businesses per day or prospect four hours per day, whichever comes last.

The unique aspect of this approach is that there is no measurement of time so small that actions cannot be predicted.  Certainly unexpected things happen, but your success will largely be determined by your ability to minimize the effects of unexpected events.  You should track your actions on a daily, and even hourly, basis.  Communicate your action goals to your family and friends.  Remind them that, just as in a regular job, you must complete your action goals each day.

#2 – Make assumptions that will multiply your actions.  These are not entirely within your control, because they require more than just effort.  They also require skill and knowledge of your market realities.  In sales, the most important assumptions are contact rate and closing percentage.  This is unlike step #1 which is 100% within your control on a weekly basis and accomplishing it can be guaranteed.
Isolate the two assumptions that will multiply your actions.  Let’s assume that from those twenty walk-ins, you will make five good contacts.  Then, assume you’ll close one of those five prospects within ten days of the first meeting.  These would be examples of assumptions.  As you track your results against these assumptions, they will vary day-to-day, so you want to look at these on a weekly basis.
#3 – Set monthly benchmarks.  Actions multiplied by assumptions over a period of twenty working days will give benchmarks.  For instance, I commit to walking into twenty businesses per day.  I assume that I will make one sale per day as a result.  Thus, my monthly benchmark is twenty sales.  There are many variables that effect the actions and assumptions made in the first two steps.  Therefore, you don’t want to rethink the larger strategy every day or week.  Instead, focus on actions every day, with an eye on assumptions each week to make minor adjustments.

#4 – Review benchmarks and adjust action plans and assumptions.  Implement this strategy for one month and track results carefully.  By doing that, your benchmarks will reveal whether you’re accomplishing your action commitments.  You’ll also learn if your assumptions reflect reality.  If a benchmark is missed, that is the time to examine actions and assumptions.  Then make appropriate changes for the next month.

In my experience, following this process will often cause a rep or sales team to set benchmarks that are unrealistic the first month.  However, the same benchmarks are easily attainable within six months.  Here is an example:

Let’s say I am working with an ISO that has five reps.  They commit to the actions and assumptions outlined above, except they believe their sales team on average will close one out of ten contacts.  So, they will walk into twenty businesses per day, talk to five people per day, and close one out of ten contacts.  If we multiply this by five reps and twenty days per month, this gives their sales team a benchmark of fifty sales for the month.

(20 businesses x 20 days = 400 x 25% contact rate = 100 x 10% close rate = 10 Sales x 5 reps = 50 sales)

At the end of the first month, a result of thirty sales would be fairly common to see.  This is acceptable.  As long as they have carefully tracked their results, they will know exactly why they missed the mark.  Perhaps their team only walked into ten businesses per day on average.  Also their contact rate was lower than they assumed at 20%.  But they managed to close 15%, so the math turned out like this:

10 businesses x 20 days = 200 x 20% contact rate = 40 x 15% close rate = 6 sales x 5 reps = 30 sales.

What should this ISO do?  There is a simple solution.  Obviously, there isn’t much they can do about the contact rate.  It is probably just a reality of their market.  So, they should reduce that assumption to 20% moving forward.  The good news is that they can close higher than anticipated, so they should raise that assumption to 15%.  The only real action that needs to be taken here is an in-depth conversation with the sales team on how they can walk into more businesses each day.  Within six months, they could easily get their businesses per day up to eighteen, which would actually take their team to fifty-four sales per month.

Whether you are an individual sales rep or are managing a big team of sales reps, follow this simple 4-step process every month, gaining knowledge along the way.  You will be surprised to discover the ease of identifying steps needed to grow your submissions.  If your closing rate is low, focus on sales training.  If your walk-ins or calls are low, focus on hard work.  With a little patience and a lot of character, you will start exceeding the potential you thought your team had in the first place.

Make it a great day!
James Shepherd

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