Mark Dunn
January 26, 2023
min read

My business partner, Juan Ortiz, and I provide coaching and consulting to owners of small to medium-sized ISOs, PayFacs and Fintechs.  We cover a lot of ground in developing sales teams and sales leadership.  In coaching sales teams, we encounter three key issues that keep cropping up everywhere. These are

  1. How do I grow my sales?
  2. How do I differentiate my ISO, PayFac or Fintech?
  3. How can I compete with the big players in an atmosphere of big change?

Each one of these questions must be considered within the unique circumstances of the ISO’s development, sales history, management, markets, products and services offered, processing relationships and many other factors.  At the risk of giving simplistic answers, I’ll share some thoughts about each of these questions.

How do I grow my sales?

To grow sales, you have to do a few basic things:

  1. Have an organized, systematic approach to building your sales organization.  Many business owners consider themselves experts at selling but fail to impart their wisdom and process to their sales team.  Most business owners need help to implement sales processes that work.
  2. Develop or hire a great sales manager.  Your sales manager will have more influence on the outcome of your sales efforts than any other individual.  Get a second opinion on this key individual.
  3. Increase the number of salespeople, preparing each of them to be productive
  4. recruit effectively and hire carefully
  5. train them continually
  6. manage your salespeople for results
  7. Increase the sales productivity and effectiveness of your existing salespeople
  8. improve sales training
  9. improve sales management
  10. focus salespeople on making every part of their day maximally productive
  11. Increase the attractiveness of the products and services you offer by building the value proposition
  12. partner with processors and vendors who have high value products and services that will give you a competitive advantage
  13. negotiate the best pricing available for these products and services

Hot Tip:  In my experience, the best merchant services salespeople are developed, not hired.  This is where your sales manager plays a vital role.  She or he should develop salespeople from within the company.  Some of the best salespeople I know started out in the technical side of the business.  If you recruit a tech school student to work part-time doing deployment or installs, work to develop that person’s marketing and sales abilities so they become comfortable moving into a sales role.

How do I differentiate my ISO, PayFac or Fintech?

Most ISO’s focus on things every other ISO is doing.  For many years merchant services has been the “me too” industry.  Latest terminals – got em.  E-commerce – we do that.  APIs and POS integrations – check.  Ho hum.

What makes your company better than any of your competitors?  And don’t say pricing because no matter what your price, someone will be willing to beat it to get the deal away from you.

I’m looking for things like:  We’re one of only a handful of ISO’s in the country focused on the “_____” market.  Fill in the blank with your market niche.  What is your real strength?  Where do you shine?  Have you made this strength the focus of your marketing message?

The urge to get into new markets and try selling new services is strong in small organizations.  But many companies have wasted their most valuable resource – their time – by taking on too much and being drawn away from their key areas of expertise, value creation and profitability.

Hot tip:  Focus on a market niches where you can hold the “four aces” of sales:

Ace of clubs:  You know the market niche better than almost anyone.  You have experience with it and have done your homework.

Ace of spades:  You’ve formed relationships with developers who have unique enterprise solutions that were custom designed for your niche market.

Ace of hearts:  Your niche market is not commoditized.  Price is not the primary consideration.  You can realize a healthy profit margin.  Cash discount is an important solution here.

Ace of diamonds:  Either you or a marketing partner have direct access to decision makers at many hundreds of prospective accounts.  

How can I compete with the big players in an atmosphere of big change?

Don’t compete with the big players head-to-head where they are strong.  You have to do something important that the big guy is not doing.  Here are some examples:

  1. Twenty-four hour, 7-day a week immediate live tech support with a “we fix it now” guarantee.  One stop for all issues whether equipment, connectivity, payment processing or funding.  This is especially important as systems become more integrated with payments.  I know of one ISO who personally put three POS systems on a private plane to replace three damaged in an overnight fire.  The merchant was up and running the next morning with no downtime.  
  2. Yearly face-to-face “solution, service and rate” meetings with your largest clients.  This type of attention to continually proving why you deserve the client’s business has boosted merchant retention at one growing ISO.  

Hot tip:  Not every improvement in your competitive position costs your company a lot of money.  Getting your clients to share their ambitions, frustrations and challenges concerning payments will tell you a lot about what you should focus on.  

Building sales requires an excellent plan, steady commitment, great execution and management for results.

If you’d like to take this discussion further, contact me at .

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