A super ISO is closing more deals, raising morale and convincing employees and contractors not to move on to other companies—all with the help of the Certified Payments Professional credential.

“We think the CPP’s a tremendous advantage,” says Michael Gavin, senior vice president of sales for Boston-based Merchant Warehouse.

The company requires its inside phone-sales staff to tout the CPP designation to merchants, and it “nudges” outside independent sales agents to emphasize the credential on sales calls, Gavin says.

The super ISO gains a competitive advantage once merchants understand the meaning of the credential and realize that many acquirers don’t have it.

Members of the acquiring industry earn the CPP by passing an exam, and they keep the credential by amassing continuing education credits, according to Rori Ferensic, director of education and professional development for the Electronic Transactions Association.

Those who hold the CPP have demonstrated a basic knowledge of the industry, the ETA says.

The association introduced the credential less than two years ago, and more than 700 candidates have qualified to receive it, Ferensic says.

“That’s pretty remarkable for such a new program,” she maintains.

Among the companies that quickly embraced the CPP was Merchant Warehouse, which is considered a super ISO because of its size and its in-house processing functions. So far, 126 of the company’s more than 300 employees have earned the designation, Gavin says.

The super ISO wants as many of its workers to obtain the credential as possible, though employee turnover and credential requirements will prevent it from ever achieving the 100% mark, he notes. The company is not restricting its pursuit of the credential to the sales staff. Instead, it’s striving to make the accreditation common in every department of the company.

Surveys conducted inside the company indicate the pursuit of the credential is boosting morale and encouraging workers to stay with the company because they appreciate the chance to become more professional by studying for the CPP, Gavin says.

Anecdotal evidence indicates salespeople from outside the company close more deals when they explain the credential to merchants, he notes.

The super ISO has trained employees for years, but studying for the test has improved the company’s teaching methods, Gavin says. Employees now receive instruction in the workings of all of the company’s departments—not just their own.

“You have to be well-rounded to pass the exam,” he notes.

Merchant Warehouse pays the cost of the exam for its employees, which runs $350 for ETA members and $450 for non-members. The super ISO holds contests and offers to help defray the cost of the exam for it ISOs and agents.

Nationally, about 75% of test takers pass the exam, ETA's Ferensic says. It’s not graded on a curve but instead is designed to grant the credential to only the candidates who know the industry well, she says.

To pass, examinees demonstrate mastery of sales, pricing and interchange, business process, operations and workflow, products and solutions, risk, and regulatory, compliance and security matters, according to the ETA website.

The association conducts the test during two 30-day periods each year at 375 locations with the help of a testing company, according to the site.

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