in the trenches:
Used Car Salesperson?

by Steven Pavent

    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 guy out.
    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!