Identifying a Merchant’s Pain with their Credit Card Processing Provider

There is an old joke that first originated in Vaudeville, a form of entertainment popular in the early 1900s. A man goes to the doctor, raises his arm and says, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” The doctor replies, “Well, don’t do that.”

A variation of this joke came about in the 1950s involving a common prescription to “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” It didn’t matter if you had a headache or a broken arm.

Luckily, this isn’t how doctors work. They know that pain is a symptom of a problem, not necessarily the problem itself. Their goal is to identify the actual problem and treat it, if possible, rather than just treating the symptoms. For example, if you come in with a weakness in your left arm, the problem could be a pinched nerve, heart attack or just muscle fatigue. The doctor will ask probing questions and perform scans and tests to find the actual cause.

No Pain with Their Credit Card Processing Provider, No Sale

In credit card processing sales, I have always said that there are two reasons a merchant will buy or sign with you- pain or gain. Gain is easier to quantify, but is not sustainable. For example, if you offer a lower price, the next person to offer the merchant an even lower price will win their business. So, my philosophy is simple: no pain, no sale.

But how do you identify pain with a merchant’s credit card processing provider, and in turn, discover the root cause? Just like a doctor does. First you listen, then you probe.  But it begins with some simple questions, “tell me about your current processing provider. What do you like? What don’t you like?”

Listen for the answers. If the merchant starts with price, reply with a simple comment like, “most business owners are very focused on price, and understandably so.” Then ask if there is anything that happened that concerns them, cost them money, or causes them inconvenience and pain.

quote-no pain, no saleOnce identified, expand on the pain. Remember, it’s a symptom, not a root cause to treat. Use questions that are more directional like;

  • Tell me a little more about…
  • What have you done about it?
  • Did it work?
  • Is it still ongoing?

Again, the key is to listen. For example, if the merchant tells you that their credit card processing provider isn’t depositing their money on time, do not assume that next day merchant funding is the best solution for them. Instead, ask for more details.

The Conversation May Go Something Like This

You: Tell me more about that. What are you seeing?
Merchant: Seems my money comes in 48 hours, but sometimes I don’t get it for three days.
You: What have you done to check on that?
Merchant: I called, but no one answered, so I had to send an email. Their response was that they were researching the issue, but I haven’t heard anything else. Since it happens randomly, I was hoping they would just fix it.
You: Did it get fixed?
Merchant: Nope, it happened again on Monday.

Now you have the information you need to proceed with more probing questions. This could be an issue with batch timing, or an issue with auto closing. It could be that the processor is holding money for some reason. Or it could be as simple as needing next day merchant funding.

Wait for It…Wait for It…

Even if a few solutions come to mind, it’s still too early to solve the problem. You need to say something like, “I see many areas where I could help you. However, since I am not your payments consultant yet, there isn’t much I can do. I truly believe I can solve this issue and save you future pain though. I might even be able to help you in a few other areas.”

Don’t spill your candy and give the merchant the options you recommend to fix their problems. Otherwise, they could just ask their current credit card processing provider to fix them. Be general in your answers- until they sign with you. If the pain is great enough to cost them money, you likely could match their current pricing (after pointing out any padded credit card processing fees, of course). Once you solve their pain, they will see you as their partner, not just their vendor.

Remember, no pain, no sale.

About Author

Jeff Fortney

Jeff Fortney

VP, ISO Channel Management

Jeff Fortney has 25 years of experience in payments, with a focus on helping ISOs and agents grow their portfolio. His experience encompasses all forms of payments. He has served on various industry committees and boards and is also an author in various trade publications. He and his wife of 40 years live in Plano, TX.

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