How to Build the Most Profitable Merchant Services Portfolio

Blog 2022

Selling merchant services is a tough industry. As an agent, you want to create a profitable portfolio, but it’s not as simple as focusing solely on pricing and solutions. Both play a big role, but there are other factors that also help predict profitability.

Creating a strong portfolio requires strong relationships and strategic thinking.

Build Trust

The trust bond with your merchants is critical. They need to know you’re being honest and upfront about everything — from the rate they’ll pay to who they should call with questions.

Notably, if you’re viewed as a trusted advisor, your clients will be less likely to meet with a competitor even when there’s a potentially better price involved. In those situations, you want a relationship where your client comes to you first because they understand the value you provide — instead of jumping ship.

To that end, always be responsive. When your merchants call, pick up or call them back quickly.

Set Proper Expectations

Make sure to manage merchants’ expectations. For example, if a merchant tells you they have only 5 minutes to talk to you about a new service or product, you may want to suggest finding another time to talk, because it’s important that the merchant understands what you have to say and that your time is valuable as well. This is your first impression and, quite possibly, the only chance you have to convince a merchant to do business with you. The more you can show that what you have to offer will add value to their business, the more likely they will view it that way, too.

Also, make sure to manage expectations about what your solution can and cannot do. Explaining what is not possible or realistic is just as important as what is possible. This establishes boundaries with your client from day one.

Create Win-Win Scenarios

Looking for a good lead-in product? Start with surcharging. The savings are often too good for merchants to pass up. Surcharging models provide choices to merchants and their end customers — the choice of how the merchant wants to accept payments, and the choice of how the end consumer wants to pay. Surcharging accounts are also more profitable for agents, so it’s a win-win.

At Payroc, we offer RewardPay, a compliant surcharging model that only surcharges credit cards — debit cards are never surcharged. With RewardPay, you can eliminate 80% to 85% of the merchant’s cost of credit card acceptance. While you do have to charge for debit cards, when compared to standard pricing models, the program can save merchants between 50% and 70% overall.

Emphasize the Value of Service

Another important strategy is to emphasize the value you provide beyond pricing. Many merchants — especially new prospects — will cut right to the chase by asking about your lowest rate. That conversation can easily lead to having all your clients paying the lowest rate and generating little revenue for your business. And make no mistake: Those clients will still require the same service level as any other merchant!

It’s important to set up the expectation that your services aren’t free and then deliver value. If you live up to that promise, the cost will be worth it for your clients.

Instead of reacting to a conversation about rates, take a moment to refocus.

Redirect the conversation to talk about fair pricing and, more importantly value. Emphasize the unmatched service you provide and how your partnership can help grow their bottom line. Merchants who understand and appreciate the service you provide are more likely to refer other clients.

Set Up Support Systems

It’s one thing to say you provide support, but it’s another to actually deliver. This is where the rubber hits the road in building trust. Does that mean you have to resolve every client issue yourself? Of course not. Most agents and ISOs aren’t support specialists. But you should be the primary point person for clients to reach internal support resources.

For example, Payroc has multiple support teams who handle everything from technical issues to general questions. And our sales support is extensive. We offer regular webinars on new product releases, a product resource library to keep agents informed, and a full team of product sales managers who serve as subject matter experts for each product that Payroc offers.

This allows our agents to help resolve merchant client issues as soon as possible.

Be Willing to Say ‘No’

Don’t get into the habit of saying “yes” to everything. If your merchant asks about features and functionality and you can’t provide it, tell them. You may not always win the deal by being honest, but the more time you spend on support trying to address unmet expectations, the less time you spend building your business. If a merchant feels they’ve been lied to, they will probably leave.

Start With a Familiar Industry

Every agent wants merchants with high credit card sales volume. But that may not be easy to find right out of the gate. Agents don’t typically break into this industry by immediately landing big clients. Instead, be willing to start a little bit smaller, build trust, develop solid relationships, learn and then lean on existing clients as references to grow your business.

So as a new agent, where do you start?

Many successful agents started by building a solid book of business in a single industry. This can be especially helpful for agents with no merchant services experience. In fact, some agents work only with specific industries, such as restaurants, salons and spas, or retailers to name a few.

By focusing on a single industry, you can get an in-depth understanding of the challenges and address them with solutions. And once you’re proficient in one industry, you’ll find that some challenges are universal. That’s when you can leverage your knowledge and experience into other industries.

The key to building a profitable merchant services portfolio is to create a win-win with your clients. That includes leveraging a clear strategy that establishes you as a trusted partner. As their businesses grow, so will yours.