Several times I’ve heard of situations when an ISO has been interested in leveraging college students to sell merchant services. Someone at the ISO has a son/daughter or nephew/niece in college. Or an ISO in a college town was interested. Unique challenges and opportunities come with college students. By having realistic expectations, a working model can be created. And in spite of limited time constraints, college students can craft a pitch that’s hard to refuse. Let’s look from both perspectives in this episode.
From the employer, managerial perspective the number one challenge will be customer support. College students can’t sell based on being available to help, support, and answer questions for clients. They shouldn’t be allowed to make such offers of help because it wouldn’t be true for two reasons.
- Students will often be in classes probably six or seven hours a day. They wouldn’t be available to take a phone call.
- College students are likely to return home or choose a different college. There won’t be dependability of a long-term relationship.
Make sure you have realistic expectations. The reason for disappointment is expecting something to happen which doesn’t! Realize a student might call today to tell you starting tomorrow he/she will be gone for two weeks. Certainly, you don’t want to communicate to them that such behavior is acceptable. But you do want to have the mentality which says, “Okay, these are college kids. I’m going to take advantage of the good they can offer the business. But I’m also giving them flexibility to live their lives and have the freedom they want to have in college.” That attitude will go a long way toward retaining the best talent.
So, make sure you have support covered. Students should give a card to clients with a customer support number on it. That would be your number or someone on your customer support team. Handle support 100%.
From the perspective of college students, here are some important considerations. Focus on sales. Since you are likely to have only a few hours to work, focus on just making sales. Arrange with your ISO or manager to have someone else perform the details such as installing the credit card machine. Most processors install credit card machines over the phone now. Some terminals are pre-programmed and ready to plug in. When the terminal is delivered, a notification is sent to the processor call center. They may even call the merchant to say, “Your terminal is sitting at your front door. If you can grab that, I can help you plug it in and test it.” So, make sure you aren’t expected to deal with installation or support. You are in the field to make sales.
College students have the great advantage of creating a unique pitch. Sell with an honest pitch. People will connect with you ten times better than a normal sales rep. Most reps have the same old pitch which causes merchants to say, “So what? Everybody else is also selling merchant services. What is different about you?”
You should say something like this. “Hi, my name is James Shepherd. I’m a college student right here in the local area. I go to XYZ school. Some of my friends and me are working for my dad (or uncle, or whoever) who owns a processing company. We realized that while we’re in college we can save merchants a bunch of money in the local community. And we can generate a little bit of profit towards our school bills.” Or if you’re working in the summer, you could say, “We are staying here the whole summer to work hard and sell. We’d like to have a little bit more money for school next year. Could we give you a bid? We would never ask you to switch unless we offer you savings. If we can save you money and you can support your local college, is that something you’d be interested in doing?” That is a great pitch. People would have a hard time saying “no” to that.
Tell your real story. Maybe your Dad or Uncle or friend’s Dad owns a processing company. Or maybe you found the opportunity online. Tell your story with honesty and transparency. Then talk to merchants about it. You can also leverage urgency in a unique way that other reps can’t.
Whether you’re the ISO or college student, I encourage you to use our instantquotetool.com. This tool allows you to give an instant, nice PDF proposal. Yesterday I got an email from a rep who made his first two sales, the first one on-the-spot using our tool. You can do that, too. When the merchant thanks you for the proposal, stay excited and enthusiastic and say, “Awesome. I’m so excited to show you this. We can save you money. I’m going to go ahead and get the paperwork started. What did you say the name of your business is?” Stay positive and excited and write up the sale. If the merchant says, “Well now, hold on a second. I really need to…” Then you respond, “I really appreciate that. But we are going to save you money and you’re supporting the local college. There’s not really much to think about, is there? I mean as long as I’m saving you money, you’re good, right?” Learn to be assumptive but not pushy. You can further assure with, “If something comes up or you have a question, this is a month-to-month agreement. I’m not locking you into anything long term. Here is the customer service number.” Give them the card for the people who are going to be at the company all day. Just push forward and push forward. Be positive, enthusiastic, out-going, assumptive. And boom, boom, boom – just close those deals. That’s what you do if you’re a college student selling merchant services.
One warning to college students – make sure you have the right structure in place. Your ISO must understand what you can and cannot bring to the table. You can bring several hours of sales effort, making five or six sales a week. But that’s all you can do. You can’t service the account. You won’t be around forever and aren’t building a big portfolio. Have a structure which allows you to do that in a way which makes sense for you and your schedule.
Leveraging college students to sell merchant services can be very productive for ISO’s and students. Realistic expectations create a model which works for the ISO. Crafting a hard-to-refuse pitch works for college students.
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