I’ve had several of my peers and several of my agents recently complain
to me about the knowledge and attitude of a wave of salespeople that
have recently descended on our area. You know the type (or maybe you
are the type). Let’s call them Joe Pressure. Mr. Pressure knows
little or nothing about how the business really works. Joe Pressure
only knows the smoke and mirror techniques that he’s been taught by a
manager that probably knows little more than Mr. Pressure knows. In
the end Mr. Pressure’s strategy revolves around “tell them what they
want to hear and get the paperwork signed”.
No contracts, no cancellation fees, we’ll never raise your rates, you
can turn in this leased terminal any time you want; we’ll pay your
other company’s cancellation fee. I actually had a merchant tell me
one time that a rep. had told him that the discount rate was a
percentage rebate that they’d get money back on the sales run through
the terminal. How much trouble would it be to sell our service if
merchants got back 2% on the monthly volume they processed. You’d have
customers begging you to raise their rate! I’d also bet they wouldn’t
mind leasing a terminal for $59.99 a month! I’ve seen people splitting
the interchange and network costs when quoting transaction fees. Joe
can say with a straight face that his transaction fee is only .08 cents
while not mentioning that the .10 cent interchange portion will be
added for a total of .18 cents? I notice this happens more frequently
with online debit pricing. But these are just some of the absurd
things I have personally seen. Just when you think you’ve seen it all
someone puts a new twist on it.
But Joe Pressure’s strongest quality is that he just won’t leave
without a signed contract. It always amazes me that any business
owners would tolerate that. You would think that someone that was
going to take on the responsibility of running their own business would
have the personal strength and experience not to be vulnerable to these
used car tactics. But not so! Joe can actually get people to sign up
using his combination of what I call “honest ignorance” and “high
pressure”. One of my customers once told me that a customer of hers
had to throw a merchant services salesperson out of the store. The
owner kept trying to be polite and the guy wouldn’t leave. Finally a
customer that had been watching the whole thing stepped up to kick the
Once in our business there are usually 3 paths that Mr. Pressure could
go down. First, and probably the most common course, is for Joe to
not have a career in our industry. Joe makes sales for a while and
makes money selling or leasing equipment, but sooner or later his
reputation or conscience catches up with him and the supply of suckers
just dries up. Second, and the way I’d like to think everyone would
want to go, is to learn more about the business. Start reading
Transaction World from cover to cover every month. Go to conventions
and trainings. Before long Joe now has a career and low and behold
“residual income”. Last, and probably the most dangerous, is that Joe
Pressure replicates himself just like the plague or a nasty computer
virus. Joe just goes out and teaches others to do as he has learned.
Maybe he has no conscience? Maybe he has no desire to learn past the
basic way of making a living. Although he gets by, it’s a very churn
and burn existence, usually without many happy customers or sales reps.
But hey, he feeds his kids.
Just like a virus, Joe Pressure usually shows up in epidemics. A
slick new program or company will roll into an area with the “next
greatest” thing. For a while Joe will be everywhere you turn and then
he’ll just disappear. In the end there are always some merchants and
MLS’s that end up on the short end of the stick. It falls back to “let
the buyer beware” and “if it sounds to good to be true it is”. It
seems the desire to save or earn money overrides the common sense brain
cell in some folks. We’re in the process of remodeling an office
building we’ve just purchased so I have 3 types of craftsmen looking at
each job that needs to be done. For example a new roof, roofer #1 is
at $5000, Roofer #2 is at $5500 and roofer #3 is at $2500. Now, if
this were to happen I’d get a 4th estimate. So let’s say the 4th
estimate comes in at $4700. It’s been my experience that if you hire
the $2500 guy you’re in for some trouble and, that, in fact, the $2500
job will end up being an $8000 job. But Joe Pressure does have a way
of making you think that his $2500 job will work out “just peachy”.
We can’t feel special because there’s a Joe Pressure in almost every
industry. I truly believe the opportunities for Joe are shrinking in
our industry. New training programs, associations and publications are
doing a great job of educating and creating standards. Increased
competition has made it more difficult for Joe to operate long term.
I’ve also noticed our industry moving ahead to a more professional era.
In the end the professional, well-run business will prevail in the long
run. At least that’s the way it’s worked out for us in our market.
I’ve been around long enough to watch many Joe Pressures come and go,
each time getting calls and comments from our merchants and MLS’s. To
put it in the words of one of my favorite MLS’s, Dennis Gast of New
Mexico, “The Bozo’s and Bozette’s will come and go”. Oh yeah in case
you didn’t notice there are plenty of Jane Pressures out there too!