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Does Cold Calling Still Work? – Selling Merchant Services

Today I want to answer a question, “Does cold calling still work?” I’ve noticed an interesting, illogical trend among ISOs. Some are willing to pay more for an account gotten through marketing efforts than an account gotten through cold calling. In my opinion that is rather idiotic! I have engaged in the following kind of conversation […]


Today I want to answer a question, “Does cold calling still work?”  I’ve noticed an interesting, illogical trend among ISOs.  Some are willing to pay more for an account gotten through marketing efforts than an account gotten through cold calling.  In my opinion that is rather idiotic!

I have engaged in the following kind of conversation with ISOs:

ME:  “Hey, I have this great idea.  Why don’t you pay your agents X amount of hundreds of dollars when they make a sale?”
ISO:  “Oh, I don’t want to do that!”
ME:  “Okay, well, how much are you spending right now to buy an account through your Facebook marketing?”
ISO:  “Oh, we have our cost for acquisition down to $700.”
ME:  “Ah, okay.  So you are willing to pay $700 to get an account through Facebook, but you’re not willing to pay $200 to get an account from your agent?”

That really doesn’t make any sense!

Cold calling DOES still work.  In my experience, marketing in this particular merchant services industry tends to tap out fairly quickly.  Merchants and business owners, quite honestly, don’t search online for merchant services very often.  Thus, the marketing taps out.  Of all the ISOs I know that are the best in the business at online marketing – re-targeting, Facebook ads, Google ad words, all the content marketing – there aren’t any right now who are doing 700 deals a month.  The ISOs I know doing 700 to 1,000 deals a month are doing it all from cold calling.  

The way to make a lot of sales is to go get them.  The answer to today’s question, “Does cold calling work?” is “Yes!”  However, if you’re an ISO or a recruiter, you must pay your sales people similar to what you’d expect to pay through a marketing campaign.  Buying merchant accounts today is rather expensive.  They are very valuable once you get them, if you can hang onto them.  They are worth a lot of money, but cold calling does still work.
The second question I’d like to answer is, “How does cold calling still work?”  What do you have to do in order to make cold calling work?  The answer to that question is very, very simple – do only these two things.

#1.  Have something that sets you apart from the competition.

#2.  Put in the work.

That’s really all; there’s not much else you have to do.  Right now many agents are cold calling with things like cash discounting and surcharging.  I keep beating that drum because a lot of my content goes to people who are selling in the field or over the phone.  Cash discounting and surcharging are programs which will set them apart.  I was just in Los Angeles and met with an ISO who is providing a very unique solution.  That’s an important strategy.

Although there are different ways to set yourself apart in the marketplace, the bottom line is getting in the field or on the phone where merchant services still works.  I’m going to take it a step further and say, “Going into the field and walking into businesses still works better than getting on the phone to sell merchant services cold calling.”  Sometimes I try to hedge that a little bit and say, “Well, success depends on your skill set and everything else.”  That’s true to an extent.  But honestly, there’s only one reason phone sales in this industry ever works better than door-to-door.  Some sales people are willing to put in the effort over the phone because they are terrified of walking into a business.  I understand that; it can be a very scary thing.

I was talking to an agent just two or three days ago.  She said, “I’m sure you don’t ever deal with this, but I’m nervous every time I walk into a business for the first time.”  My reply was, “I’m still nervous every time I walk into a business for the first time!”  That’s always a scary thing.  Walking into a business where you don’t know anybody leads to several unknowns.  You must approach someone.  Should you stand in line or not?  Do you pretend to buy something?  Do you not?  What DO you do?  It’s always embarrassing  and awkward.

Thus, some agents might say, “Well, yeah, James, that’s why I don’t cold call.”   Right, and that’s why all the people who do are out-selling you.  In sales or in business or when doing anything, you should seek to be the person doing the thing that other people are unwilling to do.  That’s how you become successful at anything.

Obviously, there are thousands of people trying to find the magic formula to buy merchant accounts online without doing very much.  There are hundreds and hundreds of ISOs who have call centers in the Philippines and India.  They are trying to generate appointments and make sales that way.  Here is the question though:  How many sales people walk into twenty businesses for the first time every single day, five days a week?  And how many of them continue doing that for a year?  Not many.  

If you walk into twenty businesses for the first time every day, five days a week for a year (excluding your two-week vacation), your odds of hitting three to five thousand dollars in residual monthly are through the roof, unless you don’t know how to sell.  There may be a few people finally launching my content who could say, “Wow, James, you know what?  I’ve been doing that for a year or two, but my residuals just aren’t good.  They are not at three thousand a month right now.”  Maybe you haven’t gotten training.  Consider taking our 6-Week Jump-Start Program.  However, honestly, it might be time for you to move on.  I literally don’t know anyone like that.  I’ve never, ever talked to an agent who claimed to walk into twenty businesses every day, Monday through Friday for a year whose residuals are below five thousand a month.  A possible exception would be someone selling for a terrible company not paying them anything.  Then I help that person find a different company.

For sales people reading or watching this episode right now who are about to go get a sales job because you aren’t making it in merchant services, you are going to hate that job.  You’ll be forced to cold call at that job anyway.  Instead, walk into twenty businesses every day, Monday through Friday, five days a week.  Do that for one year, and you are guaranteed a good income if you are with a good company and have gotten the training.  Hopefully you’ve gone through something like my 6-Week Jump-Start Program.  If not, go to ccsalespro.com.  Click on the “6-Week Jump-Start” right at the top.  I will personally coach you and work with you for six weeks.  If you can say, “James, I know I can sell.  I’ve got sales ability.  I’ve proven myself as a sales professional,” then I guarantee you are going to do well.

If you are an ISO executive or manager, let me challenge you to put cold calling on an equal footing with the other things on which you’re spending money.  If you are buying a merchant account, there is nothing that says I’ve seen the books of business.  It’s not likely you can say, “Well, we acquired this book on Facebook, and it’s just much more valuable.”  No, usually it’s the opposite.  At least, when people are selling door-to-door, you know it’s a legitimate physical location business.  There’s no concern whether you’re dealing with lead crap and asking “Is this a real business?  Is this a real person?”

Understand, I’m not saying online marketing is bad.  I think it’s great!  Those of you who know me, know I’m all about it.  I do consulting all the time, helping people with their marketing efforts.  But one common trait of those trying all the marketing strategies is they are not achieving the results they want.  In this industry, the way to achieve desired results is to go get them.  My advice is to be willing to make the investment into getting those cold call sales just like you would if it was a Facebook campaign or anything else. You’ll find the more money you put in, the more deals you get out.  If a sales professional says, “I want to go on Facebook.  I’m going to try to buy merchant accounts, but I can’t spend more than $100 per account.”  I would say you’re crazy and won’t get anything without spending more than that.  The same thing is true in the field.  When you offer your agents the incentive of $100 per sale, you won’t get very many.  You’ve got to pay money to get the sale.

You must buy the merchant accounts one way or the other, right?  Buy them online; take the risk; spend tens of thousands of dollars to hopefully start generating a good pipeline. Or you can spend the money only when somebody makes a sale; make tons of money by paying sales people to go make the sales.  Put those two on a level footing is all I would ask.  Hope you have an awesome day!

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