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Saturday, July 30 2016

No matter what business you're in, you're not going to get very far without going out there and finding prospective customers. Whether you do this in person or via the Internet, you're going to have to find a strategy to funnel new customers into your business. There are lots of different ways to do this, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to come up with everything on your own. There are already proven marketing strategies that exist, and you can simply use those models and apply them to your own business. Especially if you are new to this field, don't waste your time trying a million things that might not work, when you can employ time-tested techniques.

The key is to keep things simple. No matter what specific tactics you go with, your strategy should involve finding your niche or market, finding out what they need, delivering that need, and then spreading the word about your services. At its core, that is basically it, but let's take a more detailed look at these various aspects:

Finding Your Market - Ask yourself a few questions. For example, who would use your services? In your mind, who is the ideal customer and who do you envision yourself working with? What kind of merchants have the sorts of problems that you know for a fact that you can solve? If you're already selling, what kinds of businesses seem to buy from you the most?

From these questions, you can begin to narrow down where the money is. Let's say for instance that you are selling POS services that come with a free terminal and a low monthly fee. You might find that small startups and coffee shops gravitate to your product more than larger warehouse stores. If you focus on the people who are truly interested in your product because you actually solve their problems efficiently, then you won't have to do much persuading. The best ROI when it comes to marketing happens when people already want to be sold to, so it's important to identify who that is and not waste your time trying to seduce people who would be less interested.

Finding Out What They Need - Of course, as trends in technology and in the market change, your clients' needs will be changing, too, so you should make sure that your concept of their needs is constantly evolving. However, you will want to have a general idea of what your clients are looking for at any given moment.

Think to yourself: Why would they want to buy from me? If you can't answer that question, then you have not catered your products to their needs enough and you may not know how to truly solve their problems. The cure for this is to listen. What products do your current clients give you good feedback about? What do they complain about? If you've lost clients before, why did you lose them? If a client chose you over a competitor, why was that?

Delivering What They Need - Once you know what they want, you have to have the ability to deliver it of course. This is why you shouldn't marry yourself to a single merchant service company. First and foremost, you need to deliver what your market wants, and the company that you choose as a partner needs to cater to that need. This is why you should keep your options open and always be on the lookout for new and better solutions to your customers' problems.

Spreading the Word - In other words, you must market your services, or else few people will know that you even exist. When people recommend you to their colleagues, this is of course the best kind of marketing, but before you've built up a reputation, you're going to have to tell people about yourself. There are several ways you can do this. For example, you can attempt to pay for leads that you meet in person, you can go the telemarketing route, you can pay for leads online, or you can even run pay per click (PPC) campaigns to draw new customers in. They all have their virtues, and you should choose a tactic that plays on your strengths.

Now that you know about your audience and can deliver on their needs, as well as spread the word about your services, how do you turn your prospects into customers and continue growing your business? That is the age-old sales question, indeed. Follow these general steps, and you can begin to see growth:

Step 1) Find Prospects the Right Way - This happens before you even begin persuading the prospect of anything. The first step to converting people is to find the right people so you're not wasting your time! Don't cast a net so wide that you find yourself talking to people who are completely uninterested in what you have, or even people who are only partial matches who need lots of convincing. Especially when your business is young, you don't have time to waste. Put effort into prospects that have shown a previous interest in buying your kind of merchant services. You can do this by buying highly targeted leads or by getting referrals from other customers and businesses. You can also try hanging out where business owners do, for example at local entrepreneur or business meet-ups.

Another great way to do this is to keep an eye out for new businesses as they open. If you sell POS systems for liquor stores for instance, look up who has purchased a license lately. You can even start by servicing people that you know personally who are in your professional network.

Step 2) Give Them What They Need - Solve people's problems, and they will sing your praises. Testimonials from other business owners can be very powerful when drawing in more business. Make sure that your existing customers have nothing but good things to say about you, and the rest will often take care of itself.

Step 3) Make Friends - Referrals are some of the best sources of sales. Partner up with others who are in business-to-business fields, but who are not direct competitors and have them refer their customers to you. For example, you can work with CPA's, printing companies, or even web designers. Basically, if you know someone who would be working with new businesses constantly, offer to trade leads with them if the customer genuinely needs the service (and they often will). Using these techniques, you will find that getting prospects and converting them into paying customers is a lot easier. Above all, always remember to deliver good service and you will always have an eager customer base.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Merchant Services Prospecting and Marketing 

Friday, July 29 2016

Lead-generation is the heart of any business. No matter what kind of line of work you're in, you're going to need some sort of plan or sales funnel that will allow you to capture leads and hopefully turn them into paying customers. Since you surely have competitors, you're going to have to have some kind of edge to make these customers yours, and usually that edge is a solid marketing strategy. Most good marketing plans that capture worthwhile leads cost money, though, so you have to be prepared to invest in your business first and foremost.

Just spending money isn't enough, either. You need to spend it in the right places and know what tactics work best for your specific business. You also need to know when not to waste your time and money on someone who is likely never to grab the bait. The ROI of your marketing efforts really depends largely on whether you are targeting people who are actually interested. This is why companies like Shaw Merchant Group recommend creating relationships first and understanding your customer's problems before you try to help them.

Here are a few different techniques you can use to get potential quality clients in front of you:

Pay Per Click (PPC) - Nowadays, when people need something, they search for it on the Internet. This is great for them because it gives them what they want, but it's also great for you because you can grab their attention on a search engine results page or on someone else's website by buying ads. You might be thinking: Why would I use PPC ads that run when people search for my business on Google, when I can simply practice good SEO on my website and rise to the top of the results for my chosen keywords?

This is a legitimate argument, but there are two main reasons you would choose PPC anyway, either alongside aggressive SEO tactics or instead of them: 1) hiring an SEO expert to rank your business website for your chosen keywords costs money, possibly more than simply buying the ad space; and 2) your competitors are probably running PPC ads on the major search engines, so even if you rank high organically, their ads will be all over the place when people search for the keywords that you are targeting. Ideally, you would use both good SEO and a PPC campaign to target leads.

The nice thing about PPC compared to other methods where you pay for traffic is that the conversion rate is usually pretty good because your lead is already interested in what you're offering. Unlike more traditional methods, you have a lot of analytics to work with so you can learn about your audience. It also tends to be more cost-effective than other common lead-generation approaches.

Social Media - People mostly go on social media to hang out and not buy, but you should have a presence here anyway because there is a good chance that some percentage of people who are interested would rather contact you via Facebook or a similar medium rather than via phone, especially if they just have general questions. Take for example the Shaw Merchant Group Facebook page. Do something along those lines.

Call Like a Madman - Part of being a salesperson is being able to persuade people in a variety of context, and that includes over the phone. You can buy a list of prospects or look online for businesses that seem like they might be needing your services. It really is a numbers game because you will have to call a lot of places before you get any results. However, if you're willing to deal with rejection and having people hang up on you every once in awhile, this can be a great method, especially if you're just starting out and your capital is somewhat limited. It may seem cumbersome, but if you call dozens of people per day, 5 days per week, someone is bound to use your services at some point.

Go in Person - If you have the courage, then meet your prospects in person. You can do this by either paying other companies to arrange meetings between you and prospective leads, or you can simply look up businesses in your area and visit the owner at their location unsolicited. This of course takes social skills and a certain amount of courage, but if you've been in sales for awhile, you probably have both. If you feel like this is too much of an intrusion, you can also call ahead of time and warm up your lead before you meet them in person.

The main thing to consider of course, is to play off your strengths, so if you're too awkward over the phone, meeting in person might just be the ticket. On the other hand, remember to challenge yourself to learn other methods of lead-generation, even ones that may make you feel uncomfortable at first. Always expand your horizons.

Focus on the Funnel - What do you do after you have used one of the methods above and you have an interested party? They might not always be interested in buying right away. Though you should do what you can to close the lead in the moment while it is “hot,” not all is lost.

One thing that you can do is use “bait” to create or keep your leads, by offering them free information or a newsletter via email. This is your “list,” and it will allow you to simply keep collecting prospects and remind them every once in awhile that you exist and that you want to help them. How you find these prospects in the first place depends, but you can use any of the methods above potentially.

The fastest way to build up a list is probably PPC, though. People are already at their computer, so it's not hard for them to go check their email and confirm when they sign up, and you are targeting people who are already in the “information-gathering” phase of their quest to find a credit card processor.

Using these tactics, it shouldn't be too hard to find some leads. All that you have to do from there is solve the client's problem consistently, and you will have a stream of income potentially for a long time. If you're still confused or curious about any aspect of selling merchant services, check out the Shaw Merchant group website and be enlightened.

Download PDF: How to Generate Credit Card Processing Leads

Wednesday, July 27 2016

Merchant services such as POS systems and credit card processing are an invaluable part of any retail business, and as such the job of a merchant service company is critical. The role that the sales agents of these companies play is just as important, as they are the intermediaries that make all of these deals work. If you are a sales agent, you are going to need a partner company that is on your side, or else you are not setting yourself up for success, and you are bound to disappoint your customers as well.

As a sales agent, you're running a business, so it's actually your responsibility to make sure that you have everything that you need to get the job done. Part of that responsibility encompasses choosing a merchant services company that you would be proud to be partners with. In business, relationships are everything, and you need to choose the kind of relationship that will benefit all parties involved, or else it won't be sustainable. Because of this, it is important to “shop around” and make sure that you have carefully examined the terms that you will be working with.

Not all companies will be worth it because they may be trying to get you to push a shoddy product or to try to sell way above market price, so you must choose carefully. There are a few key things that you should keep an eye out for that will indicate a promising choice, and ideally the company that you choose as your partner should exhibit all of these traits and provide you with all of these resources. Let's take a look at them closely to get a better idea of what your business will require:

1) A Win-Win Partnership - Of course, a business (even yours) will always act in its own self-interest, so agreements will often be skewed at least slightly in the favor of the merchant service company that you're working with. The point is to carefully review the terms and make sure that they are at least fair before you go ahead and sign up. It may seem like overkill, but you might even want to hire a specialized lawyer to look over the paperwork if you feel like you might miss something or if you're not totally sure what you're getting into. At any rate, make sure you have an exact idea of what the terms are before you get started or it may come back to haunt you later. As “the little guy,” you have a lot more to lose when things go wrong.

Here are a few things you're going to want to keep in mind when you're looking over your agreement:

- You shouldn't be liable for your merchant's losses or chargebacks. Make sure that this is stated plainly in black and white. You shouldn't have to bear any of the risk of the merchants and should be held blameless in the event of losses. You also shouldn't have to pay for any chargebacks that the merchant experiences.

- Your revenue sharing model should be balanced. This is especially true when it comes to your residuals. Make sure that you have a fair amount coming to you for every sale. You do all of the heavy lifting to get the lead, so you deserve a cut of the profits for as long as that customer pays.

- Don't let them force you into exclusivity. Don't allow yourself to be seduced by a single company because you never know how things are going to turn out, especially if you're new to the business. Relationships can fall apart, or you might notice better deals with new companies as you work. Never paint yourself into a corner and sign any kind of exclusivity agreement.

- Make sure that you get what you're entitled to, even after a contract ends. Part of what makes merchant services so lucrative is that you will have access to residual income streams even long after your initial sale. As the sales agent who established that lead, you are entitled to the residuals from the merchants that you have sold to. It doesn't matter if your contract with the merchant services company expires or is severed in some other way, you must be able to still receive that income for the life of the merchant's account. More importantly, you should be able to sell these residual streams as well, or secure loans against them.

- Make sure that you can move your merchants to another processor in the event that you are not paid. Normally, payment processors aren't going to want you to take the leads you gave them and then switch them to another processor, but you may have to do this to protect your asset.

This may take some negotiation, but you're going to want to establish that if the merchant services company fails to pay you your residuals from a given merchant, that you can switch the merchant to another service provider. This is not a completely exhaustive list, which is why you will want to check with a lawyer if you can. Speaking of lawyers, make sure that your contract specifies that you can recover attorney's fees in the even of a lawsuit.

2) A Price Structure That Works - Selling merchant services is a line of work with a huge potential for both active and passive income. As you might expect, this means that you're certainly not the only sales agent out there and that you have tons of competition. Though it is always best to not attempt to compete on price, and to focus on value creation for your customer, you won't get very far if your prices are too high.

Try to negotiate to get the best deal with the payment processor or else you are going to have a hard time selling your wares. The fees for your merchant can really add up, so make sure that you are passing on the savings. In the long run, the better deal your clients get, the better your residuals are likely to be. Remember that you are helping your merchants to stay in business.

Perform your due diligence and make all the calculations before you determine if a deal is worth it or not.

3) Multiple Payment Processors - Your merchant service partner ideally should allow your merchant to use many different payment processing services. The more options, the better, because there's nothing worse than losing a potential lead simply because they want to use their current processor. Whatever POS system that you are selling, it should be flexible and allow for many different processors and payment methods.

4) Good Customer Service - Customers are the heart of your business, and without them, you can't hope to thrive. Ideally, since so much of your business is based on residuals, you want to acquire customers that you can serve over the long-term. One of the things that will absolutely kill customer retention is bad technical support and customer service. You may be doing the best you can to solve your client's problems, but if the merchant services company can't hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to customer support, it is like you have wasted all of your efforts.

Makes sure to ask lots of questions before you sign a contract and do plenty of research about the company, because you are ultimately putting your valuable merchant connections into their hands. Take a few of these factors into consideration:

- The size of their customer support department. What kind of investment, in terms of labor, do they make in the realm of customer support? If you or your clients call to fix some technical issues, how long will you have to wait before you can talk to a human being?

- The quality of the customer support. Are the people on the other end of the line well-trained? Do they actually successful solve your clients' problems in a timely manner, or do they seem under-trained and clueless? Do novel problems that don't follow their script make them confused?

- The hours of their customer support lines. Do their customer support call centers have decent hours? Ideally, they would be available around the clock, though this isn't always realistic, of course. Another thing you will want to consider is what happens if a client calls and it is after-hours.

- Whether they do out-calls. Is the merchant service company willing to send tech support technicians out to your merchant's location? Many times, this can actually be faster and easier for your merchant than their having sit there on the line with a remote technician, especially if the problem is hardware-related.

- What is the training like? What kind of help does the merchant service provider give to your client to get them up and running? Do they offer training material? Do representatives from the company go on-site to show them?

- Are you informed about customer service issues or kept in the dark? At the very least, you should get a call or some form of notification when your merchant is having technical trouble. Even better, it would be great if they provide you with a way to remotely access all of your client's trouble tickets.

Remember all of these factors when you are choosing a good partner company. It can mean a lot when it comes to customer retention. The thing is, it may be hard to determine some of these things—like, for example, the exact quality of their customer service team—until you are actively working with them. This is why it is so important to never sign an exclusivity deal with any one company when you are first starting out, as there are always going to be a few unknowns that you can't quite fathom until you're out there helping your merchants to succeed.

5) Upsells That Actually Provide Value - A large percentage of the income that you will be making will come in the form of upells because it's simply easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a potential one. This is a classic example of the “foot in the door” technique, and you will find that you will be using it a lot.

Upselling can be a great source of income for you, but what about your customer? These are going to be long-term relationships for you, so you don't want to rip your clients off by selling them useless services that they don't need. This is why you want your partner to offer genuinely high-quality products that you can upsell to your clients. For example, if you sold a POS system to a merchant, and you learn from your regular communications with him that he is in need of liquid cash, you might be able to make a decent profit if your merchant services partner also allows you to sell short-term merchant loans.

6) Free Terminal Deals - Sometimes clients aren't going to want to pay for hardware upfront, especially if they are going to be paying a substantial monthly fee. A similar evolution has happened in other subscription-based electronics industries, such as the cell phone industry, where the customer receives the hardware for free or at a huge discount, but pays a service fee for its use. Nowadays, the POS industry is leaning in this direction, so don't be surprised if your clients don't expect to pay anything upfront.

In order to cater to this demand, make sure that your merchant services company offers a free terminal deal, even if they have other options that require paying for hardware. As time goes on, you may find that there will be more and more of an expectation in the market for free terminals, so be prepared. If the merchant services offer all-inclusive package deals that will get the client started for absolutely no upfront cost, that is even better. If your potential client basically has nothing to lose, then the sale is much more likely to happen. A lot of the time, paying upfront for a equipment isn;t really worth it unless there is some major advantage to it, such as greater flexibility and not having to be tied to a specific merchant service provider.

7) Decent Analytics - In our age of technological progress, there's really no excuse for a merchant service to not provide you with analytics on the back-end. This will allow you to manage your business and examine where the money is coming and going. You might have access to a few different kinds of information, including your merchant's sales activity, their history of tech support calls, and maybe even information about your own residuals or the activities of agents who are working under you.

When it comes to any business at all, you can perform the trial and error that you need to perfect your sales strategy much better once you have access to a decent level of analytics. Ask about this before you decide on a merchant service company. Even if you don't plan to make heavy use of these tools (though you should) it at least shows that your partner is technologically advanced and that they are ready to meet the challenges of the future head-on.

8) Good Training Material - There's no point in your client even purchasing a POS if he isn't going to know how to use it. Examine your merchant service provider's training and information material. You want to do this before you get started selling because 1) you need to familiarize yourself with how the system works if you are going to sell it anyway and 2) you need to decide if the information material is actually decent.

A good service provider will offer more than manuals, too. You want online resources, and some sort of training program, especially one that involves representatives from the company coming out to the field and showing your client exactly what they need to do. As with providing good customer service, a decent training program of some kind is critical. If your client feels that the system is too difficult or cryptic to use, he is bound to drop you sooner or later, and that is a stream of residuals that you will lose out on.

It just makes good business sense to make sure that your client is on board and that there are no problems from the beginning. Play the long-term game by making sure your merchant has everything that he needs.

9) Leasing - Though, as mentioned before, you will probably find that more and more of your clients will expect a free terminal, since the industry is trending in this direction, some clients will still want to lease equipment for various reasons. Perhaps they are interested in something more high-end, for example. Maybe they want a terminal system that is not tied to a specific merchant service, so that they have the flexibility to switch if they feel the need, but this means that they must buy the hardware themselves.

Even when a client wants to pay for the equipment, though, he might not have to pay upfront. Having a fair leasing plan means that the client can afford the terminal even if he doesn't have as much capital to spend upfront. This kind of flexibility is key in accommodating all kinds of merchants, and you want to look for a merchant service provider that offers this kind of option just in case.

As with any other kind of sale, you should receive a percentage of the monthly payments that your merchant makes on the equipment. Make sure that this is part of the agreement before you sign up.

10) Help Analyzing Statements - Reading statements and coming up with just the right pricing for your client can be complicated. This can be a headache even for people who have been working as sales agents for awhile, so you can imagine how confusing analyzing all of this unfamiliar financial information can be for someone who is totally new to the business. Make sure that your merchant service company is willing to help you on this front, and that they will provide you with statement analysis services if you should find that you need them.

Getting into merchant service sales is a great choice if you're looking for a challenging and rewarding career where you can legitimately help customers while making a decent income for yourself. There are few lines of work that allow this level of residual income and revenue sharing, and there are many directions that you can take in this business.

The first factor that you should keep in mind, though, since it affects so many other things, is your choice of partner company in this endeavor. They should be willing to give you a fair cut of the deals, should be willing to negotiate with you on the details, and they should provide good customer service to your merchants that will allow you to retain them as customers for a long time to come. The key here is to find a company with which you can forge a long-term relationship that works for both of you.

Not all merchant service providers are created equal. First and foremost, you will want one with integrity—this is the trait that really encompasses all of the others. A company without integrity is not one that you will be able to work with in the long-term because you will never be able to create trust. Make sure to perform your due diligence an research the reputation of every merchant service that you're considering working with, but a good place to start might be with Shaw Merchant Group. They are a solid company to work with and have a great reputation of helping their sales agents every step of the way. Of course, you don't have to take our word for it—always ask for recommendations and look at reviews before you make that first critical partnership decision.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Merchant Service ISOs and Credit Card Processing ISOs Should Provide Their Sales Agents With These 10 Things

Tuesday, July 26 2016

There are many questions that will arise as you progress through the steps outlined in this document. Although some are listed below, additional questions should be directed to your Relationship Manager.

1. Are there any deals Harbortouch won't approve? Yes, there are certain high risk accounts like online gambling, online pornography, etc. that we will not approve. You will receive Harbortouch's full underwriting guidelines once you have signed up as a sales agent.

2. Can we always save merchants money? 99% of the time we will be able to offer them a lower rate. There are rare exceptions in which the size of the margin does not make a deal worth it.

3. Can I represent myself as Harbortouch? Yes, you are an agent of Harbortouch. You are required to disclose this per Visa/MasterCard regulations.

4. Do you have any sample marketing material? Yes, there are numerous resources available Harbortouch Online including business card templates, postcard designs, sales slicks and pricing proposals. We also provide a customized website for your office at no charge.

5. What is the learning curve? The first couple of deals may be a little tough, but Harbortouch is here to help you through the beginning stages. The process will get easier with each deal and after the first handful of accounts, you should be very comfortable with the basics. You will continue to become more proficient at statement analysis and as you get more experience, you will have no problem upselling value-added products and services.

6. What if a merchant says they are under contract with their current provider? Although a merchant may currently be under contract with another processor, it is very easy for them to get out of the contract. Even if the merchant has a cancellation fee, there are almost always ways around these charges.

7. Will you help me analyze statements? Yes, Harbortouch will analyze the first dozen or so statements for you and provide you with proposals to present to the merchant. During this time, we will also train you how to do them yourself. As you learn how to perform your own statement analyses, you will be able to shorten the sales cycle by completing this step on your own.

Tuesday, July 26 2016

1. The least expensive way to prospect merchants is to pound the pavement. Simply go door to door and walk into businesses. Have a sales pitch prepared that quickly piques the business owner's interest, such as the lower rates you can provide or the free cash register program. This will get him to sit down with you and allow you to explain your services in greater detail.

2. The above sales method works much better if you call the merchant first to warm the lead. This call would basically be to introduce yourself and give a brief description of your business. “I am a sales agent with Harbortouch, one of the largest credit card processors in the nation, and will be in your area this afternoon. I was hoping to stop by and talk to you about our new free cash register promotion…” You don't have to get into too much detail on the phone. This is basically the quick sales pitch you would have used to get the business owner to sit down with you and discuss your services. This way, when you arrive, he is already prepared to talk with you.

3. As mentioned above, a phone call is an inexpensive way to reach merchants. This can be taken to the next level and a full telemarketing method can be used. It takes time to refine a strategy that works but it's the least expensive way to reach a large number of merchants.

4. Direct mail is another way to reach large numbers of merchants. You can send letters or postcards to businesses in your area. This technique is most effective if you highlight a particularly compelling offer. Remember that you must capture the business owner's interest enough that he picks up the phone and calls for more information. Harbortouch Online provides sample postcard designs for just this purpose. You can purchase/rent mailing lists from a company that specializes in mailing lists or you can obtain this information from the local yellow pages.

5. If you are particularly web-savvy you may want to do some internet marketing. However, this method can be very costly and yield sub-par merchant accounts.

Tuesday, July 26 2016

One of the most lucrative fields that you can get into as a salesperson is selling to other businesses. Unlike most end consumers, business owners keenly understand the value of investing wisely in long-term solutions, and not merely throwing away their money on something cheap. If you want to truly contribute value to other business owners, while making a decent paycheck every month yourself, one of the best ways to do that is to offer quality merchant services. You will be invaluable to your clients, and if you serve them well, they will continue to look to you for ways to make their business more efficient.

Why start selling on your own, though? Isn't that a lot more work? What are the benefits if you're already working in a commission-based kind of job? Well, here are a few of the major ones:

More Control - Even if you're working in a field where you get a relative amount of independence, like in sales, you still don't have complete control, and your whole work life revolves around satisfying someone else's numbers. You may have your own personal selling style, but the overall strategy that the company follows—the direction in which “the ship” is being steered—is not determined by you, but by someone else. This may not be such a bad thing for some people, but it also means that your livelihood is ultimately in someone else's hands. What if the owners of the company that you work for make a dumb decision that spells the end of the business? You will have to suffer the consequences anyway, even though it wasn't your fault.

More Cash - Of course, if you own your own business, you have the potential to make a lot more money than someone who doesn't. If you're an independent contractor, at the end of the day, the people above you are raking in the most money. Sure, as a salesperson, you might make a hefty percentage of that, but the fact of the matter is that your potential for financial growth is stunted. If you have a business that you control yourself, it is basically up to you how much money you want to make, and you keep more of the fruits of your hard work.

The Potential for Scale - The thing about a normal job, even a sales job, where you're working for someone else, is that you rarely have the possibility to scale things up. In other words, you can't “replicate” yourself by hiring someone else to do some of your tasks, and this can greatly reduce your long-term income potential. When you run your own merchant services business, you can choose to run it in many different ways, but one way is to outsource the work slowly until your business can practically run on its own. For true residual, passive income, this is the kind of situation that you will want to be in. This is what makes it possible for you to work because you want to, and to make money even in your sleep. You just can't do this when you work for someone else.

Now, you may be thinking: How do I start my own merchant service business? Maybe you've been a salesperson for awhile—maybe you've even been selling POS equipment and other important retail tools—but you're not sure how to make that leap into selling for yourself.

Well, unless you've invented and designed your own solutions, you're going to have to start by forming a partnership with a company that you believe in. They're going to have to make a product that you can really get behind because, if you're building a business for yourself, most of your money is ultimately going to come from the back-end, from repeat customers. This is why it is so important to take a step back and think about quality above anything else. By all means, find a program that is lucrative, but don't ever sell a product that you wouldn't feel enthusiastic about using yourself. In the end, this is what is really going to create repeat business.

What traits do you look for in a merchant solutions company, then? Don't be taken in by any fancy bells and whistles. Basically, these are the things you are going to want to see:

A History of Reliability - Again, there's no sense in selling shoddy services or products. Look up reviews of the company and decide if they are any good. Research their products and make sure that they are user-friendly. Find a way to use them if you can. The easiest products to sell are the ones that are actually good because they basically sell themselves time and time again.

Generous Revenue - Share Since this is going to be the core of your business, you are going to want to find a partnership program that gives you a good cut of the sales. If you're doing all the work of finding and maintaining leads, then you need a fair percentage of what that customer is paying.

Residual Income - Part of what makes selling POS services so lucrative is that there is often a monthly fee involved or else the merchant services company takes a percentage of the user's sales. As a partner, make sure that you have access to a significant portion of that long-term income as well. This is what is going to pay you month after month, even long after you have made the initial sale. This is where most of your money is, really.

Lots of Options and Flexibility - The company you work with should have lots of different options when it comes to revenue sharing, that way you will be able to build a strategy out of the one that best suits your business.

So, what specific company can you go with that will fulfill all of these needs? There are a few, but one of the best and most reliable is Harbortouch. They provide real value to their clients, so you should have no trouble working with them and building a stream of residual income from their products. Ultimately, though, just focus on solving your customers' problems and finding a company that can help you do that, and you should be able to start building your own merchant services business.

Download PDF: Starting Your Own Merchant Services Business

Monday, July 25 2016

Once you have made a few sales and are comfortable with the process, you need to develop reliable sources for leads. As you continue to build your portfolio, it should become easier and easier to obtain new leads, but the first few months are always the most difficult. There are various channels to obtain leads as you build your business:

1. Referrals - These are the best source of leads because they are extremely easy to sell. If a merchant has been given a positive referral from another business owner, you immediately overcome any trust hurdles and they will be very willing to listen to everything you have to say. One way to increase referrals is to offer your existing merchants a $50 gift card or some other incentive for every deal they refer to you. You can also get friends, family, business associates and other acquaintances to give you referrals.

2. Networking groups - There are many networking groups out there that allow you to meet new business owners and share referrals. Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to start as well as groups specifically designed for lead-sharing such as BNI.

3. Associations - There are countless local and regional business associations that share a common customer with you. These associations exist within virtually every industry: restaurant associations, retail associations, bowling alley associations, furniture store associations, etc. Do some research online or look through the yellow pages and contact the head of these organizations. Try to become the official credit card processing partner of the association by offering special discount rates for their members or an “exclusive” association promotion like the free cash register program.

4. Vertical marketing - Vertical marketing is an extremely effective way to infiltrate specific markets and become a “specialist” in the particular industry. Basically the way it works is that once you sign a merchant in a specific industry, you should pursue every other merchant in the same industry in that immediate geographic area. All business owners know their competitors and don't want to miss out on something their competition is taking advantage of. For example, if you sign ABC Antiques, you can call Hometown Antiques and mention that you just saved ABC Antiques money on their credit card processing. It immediately gets you in the door at Hometown Antiques. The more businesses you sign in the same market, the more names you can drop and the more you become known as the sales rep that handles that particular industry. It gives you instant legitimacy. This also works well with independently owned chain stores or chain restaurants. For example, if you are processing for one Dunkin' Donuts, it makes it very easy to approach another independently owned Dunkin' Donuts and mention that you are already working within his own company.

Sunday, July 24 2016

STEP 1 ☚ A good way to get started is to write down a list of all the businesses where you know the owner or manager. This list should be as comprehensive as possible. Think about your local bars, restaurants, dry cleaner, convenience store, etc. Make sure you think outside the box when compiling this list; remember that the first businesses you think of are also likely to be the same ones your competitors visit. Some of the best paying residuals come from merchants that are more obscure because there is less competition. Business to business companies like office supply and contractor supply stores are perfect examples. Leave no stone unturned; include doctors, plastic surgery centers, hardware stores, landscape supply companies, etc.

STEP 2 ☚ Once you have created your list, contact each one. Let them know you are working as an agent for one of the largest credit card processing companies in the country. Feel free to mention Harbortouch’s various awards and accolades to help make an impression. Offer to provide a free statement analysis to show them how you can save them money each month on their processing fees. Emphasize the fact that you are not trying to sell them anything; you are providing a cost-saving service. You don't need to get a check from anyone or charge them anything upfront. All you need to do is find out what their rates are and lower them. If they already have a credit card terminal, we can reprogram it for free. If they want a new one, you can offer one from our free terminal program or even offer a free electronic cash register with built-in processing. Don't forget to mention Harbortouch's award-winning 24/7 customer service and technical support, handled completely in-house. They will have no reason not to switch!

STEP 3 ☚ Once you obtain their merchant statement, submit it to your Relationship Manager. They will do the analysis for you and show you how to do it in the future. They will also help you prepare a professional proposal to send back to the merchant. After the first few deals, you should be able to handle this step yourself, but your Relationship Manager is always there to help.

STEP 4 ☚ Once the merchant accepts the proposal, send them the application. The goal is to always have as much of the application filled out as possible before you give it to them so that all they need to do is sign it.

STEP 5 ☚ Submit the application to underwriting and get it approved.

STEP 6 ☚ If the deal includes a terminal or cash register, you should make sure that the equipment arrives safely, plug it in and ensure that the merchant is comfortable with it. Giving a little extra attention to each merchant will be noticed and appreciated and is the best way to get referrals. If the deal is a reprogram of their existing hardware, you would go to the business location and follow the step-by-step instructions provided on Harbortouch Online (Harbortouch's online portfolio management tool) to reprogram the terminal.

STEP 7 ☚ The merchant receives a welcome kit in the mail.

STEP 8 ☚ Check in with your merchants occasionally to make sure they aren't having any problems with their service or equipment. Don't forget to ask for referrals! Although all of these steps may seem overwhelming for your first couple deals, the process will quickly become second nature. In no time, you will be able to go through this entire process in 24-48 hours.

Thursday, July 07 2016

If you have any sales experience, you probably already know that it can be an extremely lucrative field to get into. As a sales agent, you are basically in charge of your income, and as you get better at serving your clients, you see more and more returns. This is no different when you're working with businesses instead of simply consumers. If you've ever sold POS equipment or other necessities to business owners, then you likely realize the huge potential for income that such a venture represents. Businesses always need more products and better technology, and if you can help them to succeed, chances are that you will be able to benefit lucratively when it is time for them to upgrade.

However, there is a little known opportunity in the world of credit card processing that many people are unaware of. As consumers, some us might have dealt with cash advances at some point in our lives. Did you know that businesses have a similar option, as well? In the case of small enterprises that need quick liquid cash to get things flowing, they can strike up a deal with their merchant account agents and get some cash immediately without the need to go through a lengthy approval process as they would with a bank.

This process is not a loan, exactly, but rather the merchant account company makes a short-term investment in the business by buying future credit card and debit card payments. In other words, they pay a certain amount upfront to the business, and when customers pay with a credit cards, a percentage of these transactions are sent directly to the merchant account company to pay them pack. It's not as risky as a normal loan because there is much less of a chance of the debtors defaulting; they would essentially have to go out of business to not be able to pay. The business owner is happy because he has the liquid cash that he needs without the need for any monthly loan payments to worry about; the payment processor company is happy because they receive what is essentially interest for their trouble and are practically guaranteed to be automatically paid back, and the sales agent is happy because he makes a portion of this. It is a win-win-win situation.

Now, you may not be a sales processor and you might not be interested in exploring the red tape that it might take to get into the position where you might provide people with merchant accounts. This is perfectly fine because, you see, you can simply work as a sales agent for a payment processing company and receive a cut of these profits. There's a lot of opportunity out there and plenty of companies are looking for sales representatives that can send leads their way. On your end, you would be getting a hefty commission for every one of these cash advances.

Let's take a look at a rough sample of the possibilities. For example, let's say that you start working for a merchant service company and they offer you the usual 5 to 10% comission on the cash advance that your prospect takes out. If the merchant agrees to a cash advance of $30,000 dollars, you would be making $1500 to $3000 on just that single sale. As you can see, this is far more than if you were working selling, say, electronics or other expensive merchandise. Offering financial services greatly expands your income potential because you're working directly with businesses and directly with money. The best part is that there's less red tape for you to deal with in a case like this because you're not working for a bank. Cash advances are simple, fast, low-risk, and don't require much paperwork at all.

If you thought that the initial commission seemed like a lot, most companies that you work with will allow you to receive even more cuts of the earnings. For example, you might receive another cut after the merchant has successfully paid off the cash advance (usually a single-digit percentage). In addition, you might be able to lock in that particular merchant, where you receive a certain percentage of future credit card processing revenue simply because you were the one who brought in the lead. This residual income can really accumulate, and there's certainly nothing like making money even when you're not working.

In addition to these income streams, there's also an added opportunity in upselling products. The merchant services company probably has many other products that could be useful to your prospect, and you can make a handsome amount by simply offering these as well. After all, when someone buys from you once, they are much more likely to buy other services from you, so you should always try to upsell if the opportunity presents itself. These “added value” products could be anything from marketing services that the merchant service company might offer to POS equipment and other physical goods. Just focus on what problems you think the merchant may have and try to find a way to solve it. Put yourself in his shoes, and you'll be bound to make money.

Finally, when you work as a sales agent selling cash advances and other products for a merchant service company, they will probably compensate you for helping them find other sales agents. Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out for sales, so there might be a high turnover. Because of this, a lot of merchant service companies are hungry for new recruits.. Again, this can be a residual income opportunity, where you can make a small percentage of what your recruits are making. This give agents incentive to help each other succeed.

With all these possible sources of income, sales agents can easily make thousands of dollars per month, even working part time. If you have experience in sales and you want to expand your horizons, or even if you just have an interest in sales and need a place to get your start, you should consider getting into merchant cash advances. There really is a lot of money there, just waiting to be taken by ambitious salespeople.

Download PDF: Merchant Cash Advance Agent Programs

Tuesday, July 05 2016

Are you a modern company that's looking to get a POS that can grow with you? With modern credit cards getting a makeover and transferring to a chip system over the magnetic strip, you're probably wonder about what kind of future trends could lead to a whole overhaul of the system. POS devices can be expensive, and you want one that will be able to tolerate all of the changes in the industry that may occur within the next few years. Of course, no POS is totally future-proof, but the closest thing to it is the Poynt Credit Card Terminal.

For a little bit of background, Poynt was created by a former Google executive who was responsible for Google Wallet. Before that, he worked at Paypal for 9 years, so there's a lot of payment service experience behind this project. He started the company Poynt in 2013.

Poynt is a little bit different from other POS setups in that there is no monthly fee, no percentage of your sales to pay, and no ongoing payments at all that you have to pay to the company that sells it. All you do is buy their equipment for a one-time fee—a simple terminal—and you can connect it to your merchant service provider of choice. This kind of flexibility is what makes Poynt so promising, even if there is relatively little feedback to be had, since the device just came into the market in 2015 and hasn't had much time yet to prove itself. Their business model, rather than relying on the merchant's transactions or even on profits from hardware sales, will be based on the idea of an app store. Basically, merchants will be able to buy apps that will expand functionality on their terminal. This will make upgrading to better software easier for the merchant as well.

The goal of Poynt is to provide a simple, Android-based alternative to other common POS systems out there that are tied to a specific company. Unlike other companies offering bare-bones solutions to the problem of taking a customers money, there is no need to use a specific payment processor. The idea is that the industry is constantly changing, so it would make no sense to forgo the benefits of being able to use multiple payment processors or switch between them. This is what Poynt hopes will keep their new credit card terminal from meeting obsolescence quite as quickly as other available solutions.

The market seems to be on board with this option, because Poynt managed to presell nearly half a million units of their new device earlier this year. Time will tell whether this will be the “next big thing” in POS technology or not, but many start-up businesses are hopeful.

Now, should you jump on the bandwagon and get a Poynt credit card terminal for your business? This of course depends on your needs, as you may find that your business is too specialized. However, if you simply need a machine that will take your money, it might just be the perfect choice for you. Here are a few of the major benefits of Poynt over its competitors, such as Square, ShopKeep, and others:

No Monthly: Fee Poynt's model relies on your paying to add features, so it doesn't charge you a monthly fee. If you do pay fees, they are from your payment processor, but Poynt will not demand anything from you on a regular basis. You simply buy the equipment and you're ready to get started.

Poynt Won't Cut Into Your Revenue: With simple POS systems like Square, you pay more when you make more sales. It is almost like a tax on your revenue, and this can get expensive quick if you have a huge volume. With Poynt, this isn't an issue because they don't take a cut of your sales at all. This can greatly reduce your expenses and help you save money, especially if you've only just reached your first growth spurt and you need to re-invest as much as you can.

Poynt Takes Just About Everything: This credit card terminal will take a number of different payment processors. Everything from the usual credit cards and debit cards, to Apple Pay, to cash, and many other things in between. It is a dynamic system that can be modified through buying functionality, and it is sure to be able to grow with you and your business as times change.

Even the Upfront Cost is Negligible: A terminal from Poynt is less than 300 dollars. This is a lot less costly than many current offerings, so even if you are a startup and don't have a lot of cash to spare, chances are you can use this system. With all of the savings and such a low price for the terminal, it really is a no-brainer solution. A system like Square may still be a bit more simplistic, but the up-and-coming Poynt is probably now the best value that you can possibly get.

There's no really a cost-associated reason to not give it a try unless you are an incredibly lean startup, however, there is at least one reason that Poynt may not be for you: Let's say that you need very specific functionality, such as for a pawn shop or a consignment shop, that keeps track of your inventory in a specific way. In that case, you'll probably want to hold off until this system has proven itself to work well in your particular context. Luckily, Poynt will make use of apps to expand functionality.

It is not yet clear what kind of impact that Poynt will make on the market, but for now it is clearly a promising alternative. As it gets more difficult to make a profit with all the middle men trying to make a cut, hopefully this new efficient system will offer a solution for merchants. Eventually, cashless transactions may become similar to cash in overhead costs, and this innovative POS is certainly a step in the right direction.

Download PDF: Poynt Smart Credit Card Terminal by Former Google Executive

    Shaw Merchant Group is an affiliate of Total Merchant Services, Total Merchant Services is a registered ISO of Wells
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