Merchant-level sales representatives who keep current with independent sales organization trends and arm themselves with relevant data will find it easier to develop valuable sales relationships, contends Matt Clyne, senior vice president at Sage Payment Solutions, a McLean, Va.-based merchant processor. A salesperson's willingness to research ways to solve merchants' problems and ability to answer questions strengthens the bond with merchants in several ways, Clyne says. "When merchants get answers to their questions from you, it shores up your position as the authority," he says. "In addition, you can keep would-be competitors out of the potential deal by controlling the source of the data." Interpretation of the data is as important as the data itself, Clyne adds. Potential merchant-clients who search for industry data might misconstrue the information. "By providing the data for your prospect, you position yourself to interpret the data to help your prospect draw more-favorable conclusions about the information. Controlling the data helps control the message," Clyne says.