Why are best practices so important to ISOs? For many, they are an effective means to ensure uniformity and help increase visibility into company operations to ease merchant concerns.
“A lot of our success is based on being transparent,” Jae Haas, executive vice president of TransNational Bank Card LLC, tells ISO&Agent Weekly.
A fundamental component is adopting the best practice of educating and training staff, Haas says. “If you want to win a marathon in this business, you have to be sure you’re educating your salespeople, customer-service staff and referral partners,” he says, noting the objective is to ensure statements made to merchants are accurate and uniform. “Once you create a relationship based on transparency, you have a customer and employee for a really long time.”
At the root of that relationship is hiring the right workers, Haas says. TransNational mostly has directly employed sales agents because it can be difficult to “hold [independent] agents accountable,” Haas says. “We screen our candidates for those with the right intentions. They don’t take short cuts.”
That does not mean micro-managing the staff, but placing a “lot of trust and confidence in our people,” he says.
Some merchants have a tainted view of the merchant-services industry because they felt misled or lied to by some salespeople, Haas says, preferring to consider such sales agents as not being purposely misleading but ignorant of other ways to sell.
“Pitches are often just about the numbers,” he says.
Managing Independent Agents
International CyberTrans Inc., a Brentwood, Tenn.-based merchant-services company, has found a way to make such a model work using independent sales agents. They report daily activity during a morning call with their sales managers, who must then report to Joyce Cook, president and CEO.
“They are not totally alone,” Cook says of the sales agents. “We believe in managing their activity and following up with merchant-satisfaction surveys. That’s nothing revolutionary. It’s been that way since the mid 1990s.”
Cook and her sales managers expect agents to have three qualified appointments per day over a three-day period.
Ideally, the sales agent has time in between scheduled calls to make other sales calls, such as setting up appointments or calling prospects, Cook says. Each sales manager has about five sales agents reporting this information.
The result is a stream of data that International CyberTrans can study to determine the percentage of successful merchant sales versus an agent’s number of sales calls.
No sales agent has ever rejected reporting this type of data, Cook says.
“They like that contact because of the ability to talk with the sales manager,” Cook says. “It gives them accountability and communication with the manager.”
This type of reporting system not only has helped International CyberTrans measure sales efforts, but sales agents “don’t wake up on Monday and have nothing to do,” Cook says. And if they do not have sales calls lined up for a Monday, the agent “has to wake up and tell us,” she says.