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The Truth about Merchant Services Sales

If you are thinking about a career in merchant services sales, this is a must read post. Learn the good, the bad and ugly about this unique industry.

Today I want to share the good, the bad and ugly about merchant services sales for those of you who are considering a career in this industry.  Our company interacts with hundreds of new merchant services sales reps on a monthly basis and we have heard every story in the book.  We know what the commission traps are, we know all the tricks in the book after dealing with dozens of different processing companies and while this is an amazing industry and a great opportunity, there are few things every merchant services sales rep should know.

The Good – First of all, this is an industry where you can not only make a lot of money but, build a solid merchant services business for yourself while increasing your local reputation and influence.  Not only can you put food on the table with up front bonuses, you are able to build a long term residual income.  We call it a Lifetime Vested Residual because your residual income is paid out as long as the account you sold stays active. (As long as you are on the right compensation plan and don’t get stuck in one of the many commission traps of our industry.)

The best thing about the merchant services industry in my mind is the opportunity to build long term relationships with local small business owners.  Unfortunately, many merchant services sales reps simply make a sale to a merchant and then move on without developing the long term relationship.  This is very dangerous because the odds are very good, that your clients will be approached by other local sales people and bombarded over the phone with offers of cheaper rates, new terminals and much more.  The only thing protecting your portfolio from this attrition is your personal relationship and your ability to differentiate through your solutions.

The Bad – The bad thing about our industry is that sales training, support and marketing help is very scarce.  Almost all of the processors out there have one of two goals.  Either their mission is to make as much profit as possible or their mission is to serve small business owners.  These are not bad missions and we strive to achieve both of these goals, but this is not our mission.  With either one of these missions, the merchant services sales rep gets cut out of the picture and receives minimal support and training.  As a result, our industry has a very high turn over rate with sales people and merchants.  When I started recruiting, over 90% of the sales people that I recruited NEVER made it to 3 sales!  This is a ridiculous activation rate and is surprising even by independent sales standards.  Today, well over 60% of the 25+ sales people we recruit each month, activate.

I believe over time, more of our competitors will shift towards this model rather than all trying to recruit from the existing base of merchant services sales people, because the current model really is crazy.  As an industry professional, we probably bring over 1,000 new sales people in to the business each month but, only a small fraction build a portfolio and then all the processors fight over the ones that make it.  This results in many sales people selling for 3 or 4 processors which is confusing for merchants and makes it virtually impossible for the processor to mount a serious marketing campaign.

The Ugly – Merchant Services Sales by itself has a bleak future.  In other words, if you expect to be an independent sales person selling only merchant services in 10 years, your odds of succeeding are slim at best.  Companies like ours will begin to dominate search results online, automate our marketing programs, upsell our clients to touch screen point of sale systems and eCommerce solutions and slowly gain a larger slice of the market while also achieving significantly better  loyalty, not because we saved them $20.00 per month on their processing but because we are partnering with them to revolutionize their business operations through technology and service solutions.  Merchant Services is simply a part of this overall solution that is integrated with other, more valuable differentiating solutions.

While you might think this all good news for you, your wrong.  Go online and search for any of these products.  When you find them online, try to purchase one.  See if you get transferred to a local sales rep or to an inside employee sales rep.  You have to ask yourself this question.  Do these other processors have your best interest at heart or are they staying true to their guiding principles of maximizing profits and serving merchants.  Are they focused on the independent sales channel or moving forward with online marketing while leaving you out.  You are 100% commission, so they will not “fire” you but they will slowly bring in more and more of their business through inbound marketing, letting you and your portfolio die a slow death with no training, support, marketing or fresh leads.

Our mission is “Enabling Committed Independent Sales Partners for Success” and this is a mission we live every day and one that we stick to during any decision making process.

So, if you are reading this article as a sales professional that is thinking about joining our industry.  Think careful about who you partner with.  What are their goals and interests?  How much training and support will they provide to keep you from becoming just another recruit that didn’t get a solid start?  If you are reading this article as a long time merchant services sales professional, it is time to open your eyes to the changes in our industry and at your own processing company.  Are they looking out for your best interests?  Are their technology solutions really that much different than everyone else?  Are they prepared to help you dominate your local market in terms of online presence, social media and inbound marketing?

Have a great day in the field!

James Shepherd

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