Today I want to talk to you about leads, referrals, and cold calls, and how to sell merchant services.  I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of speaking with thousands of agents who sell credit card processing; I talk to ISO’s; I do consulting.  As a result, I’ve seen many different approaches to selling merchant services, some very unique ones.  Today I plan to summarize the three main categories of prospecting strategies in the merchant services industry that I see as being successful.

#1.  Leads.  I’ve seen two main shifts in leads over the years.  Telemarketing is still a very valid lead source.  However, the greatest success I’ve seen with telemarketing is when individual agents get their own telemarketer through a freelancer network like upwork.com.

Our company is in the midst of some trial and error testing.  This testing is in preparation to roll out a whole training program to our ProClub subscribers on “how to hire your own telemarketer.”  I invested a couple thousand dollars, and we used a phone burner dialer among other things.  Having your own telemarketer when you are doing telemarketing is a great benefit.  The telemarketer can also double as your scheduler and can do follow-up appointments.  That’s a very successful strategy.  Perhaps you’re an individual agent who can say, “Hey James, I’ve got two to three hundred dollars a week that I want to put into lead generation to dramatically increase my sales numbers.”  My advice to you would be to hire your own telemarketer.  You must be careful; don’t just hire someone to throw out there.  This should be someone who is almost like a partner with you.  Go after specific verticals and really try to segment the market a little bit in order to get the right pitch.  You’ve got to be willing to drive a little further.  Obviously, walking down the street in the field and going into every business is a little more efficient.  But you can definitely get a good telemarketer who will make appointments for you every day, handle your schedule, help you decide where to go, etc.  So, this trend of individual agents working with individual freelancers is working really, really well.

I’ve seen telemarketing at the company level become less and less effective.  That’s the way I started when I got into the industry.  I had leads from a telemarketing company the first month I was in it.  They were okay.  But the more and more I saw it, the worse they were.  This makes sense because the same people calling through a whole area will burn through an area very quickly.

Another very successful strategy is online marketing leads.  Much better specific targeting is available with Facebook for re-targeting and then LinkedIn for just general targeting.  If you have a budget of five hundred to a thousand a month and would like to try something new, study LinkedIn paid advertising.  In the past you’d have to spend thousands of dollars a month to even have a LinkedIn campaign.  But now LinkedIn somewhat mirrors Facebook.  However, Facebook has no way to search, “Show an ad to all the people who are business owners.”  People on Facebook don’t have a title of “business owner” in their profiles.  Whereas, on LinkedIn, they do.  So, LinkedIn has gotten pretty good at finding people.  In my opinion, LinkedIn ads are a bit expensive.  A lot of trial and error is necessary.  I’ll be honest with you; you are going to waste at least a thousand dollars.  Using LinkedIn ads will take a while to learn; you may get very little results at first.  Although it’s not easy to do, LinkedIn ads are very successful.  I’d be glad to consult and help any company with their strategy.

 I’ve also found Facebook re-targeting to be very successful.  While in the field collecting email addresses or sending people to your website with Google ad words, put a Facebook pixel on there and re-target those people.  

So, leads are very successful if you have your own telemarketer as an individual agent.  Also, exploring some of the newer mediums like LinkedIn advertising and Facebook re-targeting can generate good success.

#2.  Referrals.  Referral networks are extremely valuable right now.  In credit card processing, you really need to have that network effect.  Going in cold turkey is difficult.  The good news is that even just a little bit of an edge can make a big difference in credit card processing.  People are not usually too loyal to their credit card processor.  The hesitance of business owners to switch is mainly because they don’t want to get screwed like the last time they switched!   In the past their price was supposed to be lower but was higher.  The problem is the trust factor; they just don’t believe agents anymore.  Thus, when you offer them savings or a good value, they still say, “No.”  That’s why the referral network can be extremely powerful.  A referral gives you just that little bit of an edge that says, “Well, this person recommended me.”   I would definitely recommend you look into that.

One powerful method of using the referral network is to go after non-profit organizations.  Reach out to a veterans’ organization or a school in your area and say, “Hey, my company would like to help you raise money for your football team,” or “for your veteran’s organization.”  They’ll respond, “Okay, cool!  Sure, that’s awesome.”  Then you say, “Great! Here is the way I work.  You can give my company leads of any business owners you know.  The owners are already processing credit cards and can keep processing credit cards just like they are now.  But if they process with me, I’ll give 30% of the profits to your organization.”  Often a school is interested in using that like a fund raiser.  A veterans’ organization is great.  You can just go into the community and say, “Hi, my name is James Shepherd.  I’ve partnered with XYZ veterans’ organization that helps veterans with ____.  The reason I’m stopping by today is to see if you’re interested in supporting the troops by doing exactly what you are doing now but switching the credit card processing company.  We are going to donate a portion of it to this veterans’ organization as a way to give back.”  That could be very powerful.  Also, obviously, it’s a great thing to do.  These are a couple of ideas which have seen good success with referral relationships.

#3.  Cold calling.  Cold calling always gets a short shrift.  Some are saying, “Oh, cold calling doesn’t work anymore.”  Or, “Prospecting – that just doesn’t work anymore.”  Those statements are absolute baloney!  I’m sorry, but it is still the most effective way to get business.  It’s the way that sales people like the least, right?  It’s the most difficult.  It’s the one people like the least, and that’s what makes it the best.  When you are in the field walking into one business after another pitching merchant services, depending on your market, there are not many people doing that.  A lot more sales people are on the phone and online, so the competition is much greater there.  Perfect the skill of cold calling, walking into businesses, and you are going to be successful.  

A powerful trend I’ve seen the last few years that has made an impact is segmenting the market.  This segmentation spans across all three approaches.  If you are on LinkedIn advertising, going after all the pizza shop owners in your area is more productive.  When you are prospecting in the field, you can segment the market and still go into every business on the street.  Simply put the business types of your area into several buckets – auto repair, high-ticket retail, fine dining, quick service, specialty retail, etc.  Prepare your value proposition for each one of those buckets.  Then when you walk into that business, you have a pitch, value proposition, and a presentation ready to go.

Cold-call prospecting definitely still works.  I know many sales people who are making ten, fifteen, twenty deals a month just walking into businesses cold turkey.  It still works.

Leads, referrals, and cold calling are three trends impacting the merchant services market.  I hope these tips are helpful to you as you explore the options of which trend works for you.  

If you have anymore questions for me, make sure you go to ccsalespro.com/proclub (all one word.)  Join our exclusive ProClub community.  Ask me questions.  Benefit from our marketing materials there.  Take advantage of monthly workshops, exclusive training, and all kinds of cool stuff.  So, check that out. 

Have a great day!

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