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The “Quit Cycle” – Why Sales People Fail

If you sell merchant services or you are looking to start a merchant services business, read this article to learn how you can avoid failure.

Although my job is very rewarding and I have been able to see many merchant services sales people succeed in a big way over the years, I also have the pain of watching dozens of talented sales professionals fail miserably.  The failure rate seems to have very little correlation with sales talent or how much training they complete.  The reason they fail is that they fall victim to what I call the “Quit Cycle.”  Here are the 3 steps to the quit cycle so you can identify and avoid them.


Step #1 – They stop prospecting.  There are many, many reasons that sales people stop prospecting and most of them are perfectly valid.  Health concerns, personal issues, no gas money, lack of motivation, lack of organization, etc.  One reason I find particularly frustrating is a full pipeline.  In other words, a sales partner thinks they have so many good callbacks and follow ups that they don’t need to get out in the field for new prospecting.  No matter what the reason, this always leads to the same result in step #2 eventually.

Step #2 – They run out of money.  A very smart business person once explained the NROOM rule to me.  This is the number one rule in business.  “Never Run Out Of Money”  When I was first getting started in merchant services, there were days where I didn’t have the cash to purchase ink for my printer cartridge or gas for my car and it is obviously pretty tough to keep moving forward in your business when you don’t have these necessities, but that is the reality of business.  Sometimes you just have to find a way to survive.  When sales people start to run low on cash, the almost inevitably move to step #3

Step #3 – They question their decision.  “Is this the right business for me?”  “Should I really have quit my job to start selling full time?”  “Is this business really going to pay off over the long haul?”  These questions and many more like it are asked, not just by sales professionals, but by their families, friends and loved ones who sincerely care about them.  Once you get to this point, you are probably days away from quitting the business if you haven’t done so already.  One key to breaking this destructive cycle is to recognize that when you get to Step #2 it is because you stopped selling, not because you are in the wrong business.

So, how do you avoid the “Quit Cycle”?  Here are some tips and encouragement that I hope will help those of you who find yourself in this downward spiral so you can get back on your feet and make the money you and your family deserve through this business.

NEVER STOP SELLING!!!  If you are depressed, get out in the field.  If you are broke, get out in the field.  If you are questioning your decision to start a merchant services business, get out in the field.  If you just had a record breaking week with a full pipeline, get out in the field and find some new prospects.  No matter what, every single day, you must get out in the field and do some new prospecting, otherwise, the “Quit Cycle” will catch up to you eventually.

Protect Your Business Financially.  In order to succeed in business, you have to make some serious sacrifices.  I love what Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later.”  I owe my business success to my wife Christina in a big way.  I can’t tell you how many times she allowed me to choose the business over spending money on a date night or to invest in a new printer, rather than pay some other bill.  She recognized that the business was our income producing asset and the more we put into it, the more we got out of it.  People who love you but, who are not in business for themselves will never understand these types of decisions so don’t ask them to.  I remember I read a book once where they recommend to “Always Pay Yourself First” in business.  When I did some research on the author, he had received a large inheritance as a young man and went to an ivy league school.  It is easy to say “Always pay yourself first” when you have money in the bank, but the reality is that it takes some real sacrifices to keep enough cash on hand to operate your business and if you and your significant other are not prepared to make those sacrifices and you don’t have a nice nest egg saved up, my advice is to go get a job and keep your relationship in tact because business can be brutal.  The key is to communicate with your family and with yourself.  Set realistic goals and milestones and work towards those.  I know some reps who tell me their spouse will not get on board and then I find out they are spending 10 hours per week in the field.  If I was your spouse, I wouldn’t get on board either.  Get to work!  Pretend you have two jobs and work 60 hours per week and suddenly, your family and friends will recognize that you are serious about this business and they will support you!

Recognize the opportunity and keep the long term vision in mind.  The math in this business is really simple.  If all you sell is merchant services, you are going to make $30 per month, per account in residuals, as long as you are selling for a top processor with a good comp plan (like us!).  If you are learning about technology reseller programs like our web design and POS programs, you will make about $100 per month residual on the average technology account.  The average independent rep can easily handle 200 accounts and if you sell full time, you should have 200 accounts in 24 months.  That means two years from now, you will be getting $6,000 per month in merchant services residual and if you get 20% of your accounts to take on technology solutions, you will get a total of roughly $9,000 per month in residual.  That is not up front money, that is just your residuals on the portfolio you can realistically and conservatively create as a result of 24 months of full time effort.  Talk about this with your significant other and your family and friends.  Explain to them this is not a pipe dream but, this is the reality of the business.  It isn’t easy, in fact it is incredibly difficult but it is so worth it!

I hope these short tips will help many of you avoid the “Quit Cycle” and for those of you that are experiencing one of these steps in the cycle, perhaps you will be motivated to get back out in the field and keep making progress towards your goals!

James Shepherd


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