So you’ve heard about the benefits of being a Credit Card Processing Agent or Merchant Account Sales Agent: residual income, the opportunity to work for yourself, the ability to choose your clients, and more.
While starting a credit card processing business can be lucrative, you need to approach it with intelligence. If you don’t have a sales background, you’ll need to spend time understanding what separates the successful credit card processing agents from the failures. If you don’t know much about credit card processing, then you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of the merchant services industry.
Your income will entirely depend on your ability to land new accounts and keep them with you, so once you jump in it’s up to you to make the most of it.
Sound exciting? Great. You’re in the right place.
So how do you become a credit card processing agent, and how do you set yourself up for success?
Do not start a credit card processing company without a niche.
Part of landing accounts is understanding your client’s business environment and recommending a solution based on their unique situation. Imagine yourself as a merchant services consultant that also facilitates the merchant account transfer or initiation. You need to be servicing your client’s needs, and people often won’t trust a newcomer.
So how do you choose a niche? Start by thinking through your past experience and location. Did you work in restaurants for ten years and live just outside of Chicago? Perfect. Frame your entire operation around food services and use that knowledge to your advantage. Got your law degree but decided it wasn’t for you? Swing that to your advantage.
If you don’t have a specific industry you’d like to work in, take a look at your community and what businesses are doing well there. Are there a lot of B2B tech companies moving and growing in your community? Golf courses? Healthcare? Boutique clothing?
The beauty of merchant services is that everyone accepts payments, so take a look around and see where your expertise and the market intersect.
If you don’t have a background in merchant services, start with the basics of credit card processing: how transactions are processed, what the relationship between issuing and acquiring banks is, typical hardware, etc.
If you aren’t familiar with Elon Musk’s strategy for deconstructing and learning new topics via a semantic tree, you should model your approach after his.
After you understand how the industry began, where it is now, and where it’s headed, you’ll need to understand the role that you will play and where you fit into the merchant services ecosystem.
In short, you will function as the middleman between a merchant and merchant services provider OR perform this same function under an official “independent sales organization” provider.
You and/or your ISO operate as resellers, so you’ll buy “wholesale” merchant processing rates (known as buy rates) and sell them to businesses. Your job is to explain why the merchant should switch to a different provider and help them set up their new account (assist with paperwork, applications, etc.).
The difference between the rate you can get from the MSPs and the rate you pitch to your merchant is where you make your money.
For example, let’s say your negotiated buy rate is 1.79% + $0.20 per transaction, but you pitch 2.25% + $0.25 to your clients — that means you’d get 0.46% + $0.05 on every sale.
That’s your residual! That’s what you make from now until forever, assuming the company doesn’t switch providers or go out of business.
That number can add up quickly, too. If you landed a merchant that processed $15,000/month across 25 transactions, you’d make $70.25/month in residuals. Land ten of those and you’re looking at over $8,000 per year off of residuals. And as these businesses grow, your residuals will grow, too.
After you understand the world you’ll be operating in, it’s time to fit those services, types of MSPs, and their offerings to YOUR niche. You need to understand what the best solutions are for your industry and have the relationships with the right ISOs and MSPs to properly equip your clients, which leads us to our next section:
There is a multitude of ISO/MSP programs out there operating in every niche imaginable, and they all approach their relationships with merchants and merchant services agents differently.
You want to be really diligent here, so don’t cut corners. Here are some important criteria to consider when comparing sales programs:
Side note: We have a powerful community of smart agents and ISOs working with us to change the landscape of merchant services for the better through modern innovation and complete transparency.
Make sure you put us on your list!
So you know your niche, you understand the world of merchant services, and you’ve found the perfect MSP. Great!
Apply and see what happens. Assuming you’ve done your research correctly and fit into their mission and goals, you should be fine.
It can be tempting to just run off and start knocking on doors, but it’s important to have the business assets behind you to back up what you’re selling.
A good MSP program will provide a lot of these sales resources for you, but here are a few assets you’ll need to have on hand:
Make sure these are professional and thorough. The better you prepare these, the easier your job will be!
At this point in your credit card processing business, there’s nothing left to do but get out there and start signing merchants!
Always remember that businesses aren’t going to listen to what you have to say unless it’s legitimately a good business decision.
If you’re pitching a higher transaction rate, you need to have talking points prepared to justify that cost (better customer service, less downtime, more payment options, etc.).
If you’re pitching a lower rate, you can lead with that but need to sell around it to make it feel like they’re growing their business as a result of working with you.
Put yourselves in their shoes, and try to help your clients — that’s how you succeed in sales.
As mentioned, part of being a good credit card processing agent is having the resources and connections to provide the best combination of services to fit your client’s needs.
At Tidal, we specialize in helping smart, driven agents or future agents like you offer better service for bigger and better clients — putting more money in your pocket and building revenue streams that will last you a lifetime.
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