So, you’re in the field or on the phone selling credit card processing.  Or maybe you’re managing a team of credit card processing sales people.  In the back of your mind, this question keeps popping up, “Is merchant sales getting harder?”  Competitors like Square and Stripe and many different point of sale systems may cause concern.  Often in my consulting practice, I’m asked whether this is just a losing battle.  Allow me to share some really interesting thoughts about that today.

The answer to the primary question is, “no.”  It’s not getting harder; it’s getting different.  It’s changing, just like everything changes.  I would say merchant sales is getting harder if you’re doing the same thing you’ve done for the last ten years without making any changes.  But merchant sales in many ways is actually getting easier for those who are changing and adapting to the new way of doing things.  Here are some key concepts you need to understand.

#1.  The concept of what I call “hyper-targeting.”  The idea of hyper-targeting is to start targeting verticals.  That doesn’t mean to walk into only one type of business, such as hair salons.  You might walk into hair salons, auto repair, and pizza shops.  But for each of those you should have a unique value proposition.  Businesses want more than just a cheaper rate from their payment processor.  You must be prepared to offer that to them.  Know the point of sale options available for each particular vertical.  Know the terminal options and what functions the terminal offers.  Be aware of the unique barriers to selling this particular vertical.

You may be literally walking into every business on the street (which I think is still a great strategy.)  However, if you’re walking into every business with the same pitch and value proposition, merchant sales will probably seem a lot harder to you.  Business owners don’t all want the same thing anymore.  Start adjusting to that reality in the market place.  You’re not operating in a vacuum; you have competitors and MUST adjust.

On the short term right now, do I think sales is much harder than it was three to five years ago?  No, it’s not.  It’s just different; it’s changing.  Adjust to the hyper-targeting mind-set.

#2.  Look at the long-term.  What’s going to happen to the payment processing industry in the next five to ten years?  There are changes such as cryptocurrency, Square, Stripe, and PayPal.  Even Amazon and Google are getting into the game.

There is one interesting theme I’ve seen over time.  When something new rolls out that’s going to be “industry changing, blow everything away,” one detail is forgotten.  Small business owners are actually super hard to sell.  There’s always going to be a need for an army of sales people who know how to motivate small business owners to take action – to sell a small business owner.

There is no expert who can tell how the industry will play out in the future.  Nobody knows.  Apple Pay is a great example.  When Apple Pay rolled out, everyone was in a panic, thinking, “Oh my goodness!  Apple is in the payment space.  It’s all over.”  However, just as I predicted at the time, two things happened before Apple Pay was even live. 

  1. It had to run on the same rails as everything else because they needed merchants to accept Apple Pay.  The only way to get merchants to accept Apple Pay was using thousands of sales people in the field from all the different ISO’s. 
  2. Just because they were a big company didn’t mean they would dominate the marketplace.  Apple Pay continues to be minuscule compared to the larger scheme of things.  The reason is they didn’t have any concrete benefit for consumers and merchants.

So, don’t get yourself all worked up about these big changes.  My advice is to keep track of the industry by following my content and others like it.  And then continue your focus on developing your skill-set for selling small business owners.  It is an art, an absolute art.  It is a very valuable skill.  I promise that ten years from today the skill of walking in off the street to small business owners or calling them to schedule an appointment, and then convincing them to do something they weren’t planning to do, will still be extremely valuable.

I don’t know how that skill will relate to the payments industry or exactly what you’ll be selling in five or ten years.  But I do know that skill-set is going to continue to be valuable.  So, whether you’re managing a team or are an individual agent, continue to work on developing your skill-set.  Know how to close merchants and sell merchant accounts.  Don’t use the excuse that sales is getting harder.  Right now selling merchant services is not any harder at all.  I know people who are selling more than they’ve ever sold, and they’re walking in cold turkey.  I know people who sell fifteen or twenty accounts every month like clock work, purely from prospecting with no leads.  Selling is not that hard, but it has changed.  Have a unique value proposition for these different verticals and then develop that sales skill.  Get better and better at selling small business owners.

Have an awesome day!

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