Prospecting Tips for Selling Business Credit Card Processing

Jeff Fortney


To whom do you sell? No, I don't mean which industry or merchant type is your target market for selling business credit card processing. Perhaps it would be helpful if I rephrased my question in this way, ”Who buys what you are selling?”

It seems that every salesperson struggles with this question. Sure, we know who our target market is, we know which merchants have signed with us, and we also know the obstacles that prevent other merchants from signing with us - or so we think. However, when we dig deeper into the answers of these questions with an objective eye, we often find that the superficial reason given by the merchant is not the true reason why they opted not to sign with us, but that's a topic for another day.

I like to group prospective merchants into four distinct categories:

  1. Those who want what you're offering and can afford it.
  2. Those who want what you're offering but can't afford it.
  3. Those who don't want what you're offering but can afford it.
  4. Those who don't want what you're offering and can't afford it.

Notice the use of the term ”afford.” In this context, it can mean the actual cost of equipment, software, or some other cost of acceptance necessary with business credit card processing. Or it could mean the time it takes to process cards or other indirect, intangible expenses.

When you look at these four categories, it's easy to see that we all want merchants who fit into the first category (want/can afford), but those merchants are rare. The last category (don't want/can't afford) tends to be easy to identify as well, which helps us avoid an unnecessary time commitment. Many who try to answer the previous question would say that the second category (want/can't afford) is their ideal group of merchants. Simply put, if they want what you are offering all you have to do is overcome the ”afford” objection, right?

The difficulty with this position is that it is very rare that you come across a merchant who has not heard of, talked to someone, or even researched the cost of accepting credit card payments in some fashion.

Recently, I was told about a situation where the merchant was excited to talk to the Independent Sales Agent. He had many questions, but his enthusiasm gave the rep confidence that this was going to be an easy sale. He said to the merchant, ”It sounds like we have a lot to offer you, so let's get started on the application.”

The merchant looked at him and said, ”Oh, I can't do that. We're closing the business in three weeks. I told my partner that if we had thought about accepting credit card payments we could have survived, but he disagreed. If you give me your card, I'll call you if I open another business.”

The answer to the question of who is buying can typically be found in number three (don't want/can afford), for it's likely about how you sell and what they perceive about payment processing that is preventing them from signing up.

You've probably also heard comments like this before, ”I don't want to take credit cards because I could get a chargeback.” and ”I don't have anyone asking me to take credit cards.” Both of these statements are objections, however they are generally easy to overcome and can lead to a signed merchant. So, during your initial conversation, determine where a merchant falls in the big four. If they fall into category number two (want/can't afford), be very careful about how you proceed. Don't invest time into a merchant you won't be able to sign. Instead invest that time in merchants who have objections that you can overcome. These are the merchants that you will most likely sign. After all, isn't that what selling is all about?

Do you have any tips you use when prospecting? How have they helped you build your portfolio?