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Independent sales organizations' merchant-service sales pitches that worked with merchants before the economic downslide are less effective now, industry insiders say. Instead of focusing solely on which provider can deliver the most cost savings for card acceptance, many merchants are seeking a company that can help them generate revenue with additional products, such as loyalty and prepaid programs. "It's not the same old sales message," says Donna Embry, senior vice president of Payment Alliance International, a Louisville, Ky.-based ISO. "It's no longer a matter of 'show me your statement, and I'll save you money.'" Sales pitches now reflect merchants' desire to improve their cash flow and add revenue-generating products that supplement their basic card services, says Embry. The merchant focus was "strictly" on price in the past, agrees Rhoda Steward, director of sales at First American Payment Systems LP, a Fort Worth, Texas-based ISO. Though price remains important, merchants are looking for "products that will help them expand in the future" and want to work with companies that offer multiple products, she says.

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