Credit plays an invaluable role in fueling the modern economy, allowing businesses and individuals to make purchases beyond the cash they have on hand. The introduction of credit cards led to the need to process payments and gave birth to the merchant services industry.
If you’re currently active in this industry or looking to break into it, you have the option to do so as an independent sales organization (ISO), or as an agent representing one. ISO agent programs provide the foundation for motivated, successful salespeople to take control of their earnings and their future.
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Describing ISO Agent Programs
Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs) partner with banks that process credit card payments, forming a link between the merchant receiving the payment and the customer who is making it. These organizations use sales representatives or agents to procure new clients by establishing relationships with small and medium-sized merchants businesses.
Setting up an ISO requires capital and expertise, which many excellent salespeople don’t have access to. ISO agent programs offer an ideal opportunity for people who are knowledgeable about financial mechanisms to make a career in selling this service, without having to commit large-scale resources to set up an ISO.
How ISO Agent Programs Work
ISO agent programs provide motivated sales people with a reliable product to sell. The agent signs up for the program undergoes training and gets access to marketing materials to help them build a merchant account portfolio effectively. Agents approach merchants to find new clients to sell payment processing services to. These are typically small- to medium-sized businesses that don’t generate enough credit card revenue to warrant establishing a processing relationship with a bank. An ISO usually partners with a specific bank to provide the services, but agents can often be employed in several ISO agent programs. This gives them a range of products to sell and a variety of merchant types to sell to.
When an agent sells payment processing services to a merchant, the credit card processing bank or ISO provides:
- The hardware needed to accept credit card payments, such as Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals
- Full training in their processes
- Technical support for the hardware
- Short-term funding services
- Compensation for the agent in the form of commission splits and sign-up bonuses
- Online reporting programs and data entry tools.
Some ISO agent programs are offered by companies that service traditional merchant accounts, while others are with ISOs that are more unorthodox in their approach and their client base.
The risk to the credit card processing company varies across merchants, too, so some types of business are considered higher risk than others. An agent might find the idea of working for several ISOs more beneficial, since it enables them to spread their level of risk and engage a wider slate of merchant clients. If you find ISO agent programs with the right company, however, you won’t need to have multiple ISO clients.
What to Look for in a Program
For a sales person looking for the right opportunity to break into the merchant services industry, it’s important to find the right processing company to partner with. Look for ISO agent programs that offer:
- Sound Reputation: It’s important that the ISO you choose is true to their word and does the right thing for agents and their merchants. When they say they are going to do something, you need to be able to have confidence they will do it
- Wide Range of Products: Sales agents benefit from having a full suite of product offerings, including terminal purchase and leasing options. This gives them the opportunity to sell more than just credit and debit card processing and enables upselling and cross-selling possibilities. A broader offering also helps to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce churn, which directly impacts their earning ability.
- Good Back Office Support: A quality ISO is responsive to the needs of agents and merchants and provides quality technical and back office support with short wait times. This ensures clients are never stuck on hold when they need help.
- Transparent Operations: Choose ISO agent programs with companies that demonstrate a straightforward, transparent approach to partnering, so you’ll know exactly what you can expect. This creates a stronger bond between agents and their merchants.
- Marketing Support: The best salespeople focus on prospecting, building relationships with current and future clients, and selling their products and services. To succeed, it’s essential that ISO agent programs have a strong marketing operation underpinning their agents' efforts, providing advertising, communications, email marketing, a professional website and social media profiles. This boosts the credibility of the ISO and the agent and helps create awareness of the product.
- An Agent-centered Culture: Look for ISO agent programs that enable you to earn maximum revenue, allow for growth and help agents achieve their personal earning goals.
- Strong Compensation Programs