sales

Storytelling Sales Expert Kindra Hall to Keynote Broker Fair 2019

March 7, 2019
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Kindra HallSales expert Kindra Hall will present at Broker Fair 2019 to teach attendees about the irresistible power of strategic storytelling. If you want to learn to sell differently and use the power of storytelling, her keynote is something you won’t want to miss!

According to Hall, the shift from a transactional economy to a connected one has people scrambling; when surveyed, companies admit they believe a substantial portion of their revenue is under threat as a result. Businesses, brands, sales forces, marketing teams and leaders at all levels are desperately trying to capture attention and resonate with consumers who expect more. Is there a secret weapon? A silver bullet to humanize and connect? Yes. The answer is strategic storytelling.

The problem? In its rapid rise in popularity, “storytelling” has been reduced to in-actionable jargon. Every day businesses and individuals miss critical opportunities to connect with their elusive audiences in powerful and profitable ways because they lack a storytelling skill. Until now.


About Kindra Hall

Kindra Hall is President and Chief Storytelling Officer at Steller Collective, a consulting firm focused on the strategic application of storytelling to today’s communication challenges. Kindra is one of the most sought after keynote speakers trusted by global brands to deliver presentations and trainings that inspire teams and individuals to better communicate the value of their company, their products and their individuality through strategic storytelling.

What began as a storytelling assignment in 5th grade, grew into a passion for not only telling stories, but a mastery for teaching others the methods and science of storytelling so they can better tell their own.

REGISTER HERE FOR BROKER FAIR 2019 ON MAY 6 IN NYC

Broker Fair 2019

She was a National Champion storyteller (yes, they have those), member of the Board of Directors of the National Storytelling Network and has her master’s degree in communications where she conducted original research studying the role of storytelling in defining and revealing organizational culture.

Kindra is a former Director of Marketing and VP of Sales. Today, Kindra’s work can be seen at Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com and as a contributing editor for SUCCESS Magazine. Kindra’s message spans all industries and her clients include Facebook, Hilton Hotels, Tyson Foods, Target, Berkshire Hathaway and the Harvard Medical School. Her much anticipated book will be released by Harper Leadership in the fall of 2019.

REGISTER HERE FOR BROKER FAIR 2019 ON MAY 6 IN NYC

Selling a Home, Selling Commercial Financing – What’s the Difference?

November 16, 2018
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Realtor Showing New House To Loving CoupleAlternative funding brokers come from all different backgrounds, but for many them, being a broker is not their first job in sales. Some sold equipment, some sold cars and others sold homes. They were realtors. deBanked found two alternative funding brokers with a background in residential real estate and we asked them to compare the similarities and differences between selling a home and selling money.

Alex Alpert is the owner and CEO of Philadelphia-based Solomon Commercial Lending, which provides clients with a wide variety of funding from SBA loans, equipment leasing, factoring and some MCA. Before starting his company, he had worked as a residential realtor for about five years. When asked about his approach to selling a home versus selling money, he sees them as very different.  

“When I consider non-investment home ownership, it is 100% emotional,” Alpert said. “If you think about it, the most expensive and most intimate and emotional purchase that you’re ever going to make is going to be your home. As people, we pour ourselves into our homes. Our homes speak so much about our personalities – what we like, what we don’t. It’s literally like a biography [of someone.]”

Alpert spoke about the intangibles involved in residential real estate, how a lot of it is about the feel of a home, which is highly subjective.

“Instead of you manipulating what they want, it’s just guiding them to reach that ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Alpert said. “I didn’t walk around the house with them and say ‘This is the bedroom and this is the bathroom.’ I would stay back and just say ‘Take a walk around, see how it fits, jump in the bed if you want to, and see how you feel.’ And when they came back down, one of my common first questions would be, ‘Can you picture yourself living here?’ Because that question makes you visualize yourself waking up there. If you can pick up on what the person is showing at that moment, you can guide them better…I think I’m successful because I’m honest, I’m transparent, and I will tell you things you won’t expect. And at the end of the day, that’s how you build referrals and address the needs of an emotional transaction.”  

On the other hand, Alpert sees non-primary home deals as more transactional.      

“When it comes to business, it’s much less personal,” Alpert said. “People will certainly do their research on who they engage with. Most all of my business comes from referrals. But still, you don’t know me from Adam, and you’re sending me over everything…With [business transactions,] it’s based on need and your ability to serve that need. The emotional part, just from the start, is not that present. It’s a need and solution type of approach.”

Alpert will work with clients with tens of millions of dollars in revenue. But he acknowledged that for some of his smaller “mom and pop shop” clients, transactions can be emotional, like with a small town dance studio client he is helping to secure a 7(a) SBA loan for.    

James Celifarco, President of Horizon Financial Group in Brooklyn, which offers mostly small business loans and MCA, currently works as a realtor as well. He doesn’t see much of a difference in the way he approaches residential real estate clients versus small business merchants.    

“I think they’re very similar in that if [people] are buying or selling a home, it’s their most coveted possession,” Celifarco said. “It’s what they’ve worked the hardest to obtain. It’s their biggest asset. And it’s the same thing when dealing with a business owner. Business owners are probably more passionate than a homeowner. Either way, if you’re dealing with a business owner or a homeowner, it’s their prized possession.”

While not using the word “emotional,” Celifarco seemed to suggest that non-residential real estate deals are just as emotional.

“[For both homeowners and business owners,] you really have to deal with kid gloves in that they play very close to the vest,” Celifarco said. “You have to have a certain approach where they feel comfortable speaking with you about their home and their finances or their business and their finances. They want to know that their information is protected.”

Celebrity residential real estate agent Ryan Serhant, who spoke at Broker Fair 2018, said that he lives be three rules to successful in real estate: Follow up, Follow through and Follow back. The last refers to following back a client on social media. This part might not always apply, but Celifarco said that the same persistence is required regardless of the sales client.

“It’s all sales,” he said. “You eat what you kill. You close a deal, you make money. You sell a house, you make money. If you don’t, if you’re not reaching out to your clients, you’re not going to make any money. It’s the same in that you get paid for how hard you work.”  

How to Use Your Clothes to Get Deals

September 17, 2018
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Paul Boxer Quicksilver CapitalMost people are always trying to find more business and make more money. But most of us don’t think of our wardrobe as a way to accomplish this. That is, except for Chief Marketing Officer at Quicksilver Capital Paul Boxer, who looks in his closet and sees business opportunity. Boxer is known for going to industry events wearing a suit with a pattern of $100 bills piled on top of each other. Not one for understatement, he pairs it with a similar tie, enveloped in cash.

“I’ve become known as the ‘Money Suit Guy,’” Boxer told deBanked, “and with that, so many people have found me and reached out to work with me. They have all said, ‘if you can wear that and rock it out, I want to work with you.’”

In addition to Boxer’s iconic money suit, he also wears a Quicksilver Capital baseball hat to promote his company and he often wears Quicksilver glasses and cash patterned shoes, which he said he got as a gift from his CEO. Even before his money suit, Boxer wore loud and unusual glasses to start conversations. He says he has over 100 pairs of prescription glasses and he put prescription lenses into his company’s promotional swag glasses.   

“I feel that with the attire and suits that I’m known for, people are more prone to come up to me and strike up a conversation. It’s just that – a great conversation starterAnd I found that I’ve built many business relationships at events with just the clothing I wear,” Boxer said.

Creativity for SaleThe concept of wearing promotional clothing – namely a t-shirt – to promote a company has been around for years. In fact, in 2009, a young man named Jason Sadler started a company called iwearyourshirt.com, in which he filmed himself wearing a different company’s shirt everyday. He generated over $1 million within a few years, even though he started out with a virtually non-existent social media presence. (He moved on to start something new in 2013).

The legendary golfer Greg Norman is never seen without his iconic straw hat which he built an apparel brand around that now includes golf shirts, shorts and pants.

And nonprofits have used apparel for years to spread awareness. Think of pink for breast cancer, the red bow for AIDS and Lance Armstrong’s yellow wristband for cancer awareness. But there is definitely opportunity for for-profits to use clothing to turn strangers into paying clients. Or if you will, into money.

I can fund your businessdeBanked’s San Diego event is also tapping into the creativity. The first 100 salespeople to check in on October 4th will receive a FREE t-shirt that says, “I Can Fund Your Business” and “Ask Me How” on the back. “There is no mention of deBanked anywhere on the shirt,” said deBanked president and event organizer Sean Murray. “We simply want to create opportunities for salespeople to do more business. They can wear it on Main Street, at the gym, or while patronizing small businesses. Someone is bound to ask them how to get funded.”

“If we dress the way we want to be perceived, it will in turn be seen that way,” Boxer said. “Dress to impress, dress to rock it out and you will go in with that feeling that you can conquer everything…And you will! It will help you with your mindset which will lead you to close more deals and in effect generate more business.”

Grooming The Best Sales Reps

August 22, 2018
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This story appeared in deBanked’s Jul/Aug 2018 magazine issue. To receive copies in print, SUBSCRIBE FREE

The best sales reps have a lot in common – they’re smart, honest, likable, well-organized, thick-skinned and hungry for success. They navigate the difficult early days of their careers in the alternative small-business funding community by persevering despite long hours, countless outbound telephone calls and meager commissions.

Evan Marmott
Evan Marmott, CEO, CanaCap / CapCall

“Persistency is really, really the key – putting in the time,” says Evan Marmott, CEO of Montreal-based CanaCap and CEO of New York-based CapCall LLC. “It’s not always easy, but you’ve got to stay late, make the phone calls, send the emails and do the follow-ups. It’s a numbers game.”

Being relentless counts not only when pursuing merchants but also when matching merchants with funders, Marmott emphasizes. “If they can’t get an approval one place, they’re going to shop it out until they get approval someplace else so they can monetize everything that comes in,” he says.

“IT’S ALL MINDSET AND WORK ETHIC”


“It’s all mindset and work ethic,” in sales, according to Joe Camberato, president at Bohemia, N.Y.-based National Business Capital. His company works to create a culture that supports the right mindset by working with a firm called “Delivering Happiness.” Together, they forge to a set of core values based on integrity, innovation, teamwork, empathy, and respect for fellow employees, clients and clients’ businesses.

National Business Capital employees learn to live those ideals by working and playing together on the company volleyball team, through work with local and national charities, and at company mixers and staff picnics, Camberato maintains. “We adapt and change, and we’re committed to helping small businesses grow,” he says of the company culture, “and we have fun while doing all that.”

Likeability helps build relationships with customers, says Justin Thompson, vice president of sales for San Diego-based National Funding. “People will do business with people they like and trust,” says Thompson. “It’s really about establishing a relationship first and then establishing quality discovery.” From there, presentation and execution become paramount, he says.

Joe Camberato
Joseph Camberato, President, National Business Capital

Methodology can make the difference between success and failure in sales, observes Justin Bakes, co-founder and CEO of Boston-based Forward Financing LLC. “Have a defined process and stick to it,” he advises. A well-organized approach inspires trust among clients, establishes and maintains a great reputation; and fosters understanding of the customers’ needs, wants and business operations that help the rep choose the right financing option and appropriate funder. Using technology to wrangle multiple leads and high volume counts for a lot, too, he says.

It’s all part of the consultative approach to sales, says Jared Weitz, CEO of Great Neck, N.Y.-based United Capital Source. Long ago, sales reps may have succeeded by mimicking carnival barkers, sideshow pitchman and arm-twisting medicine-show peddlers. Thankfully, those days have ended – if they ever really existed. Most of today’s successful salespeople earn clients’ respect by becoming knowledgeable, trusted business consultants, says Weitz.




THE CONSULTATIVE SALE


“Someone calls, and there are two ways of handling a deal, right?” Weitz asks rhetorically. Using one method, a salesperson can say, “We’ll fund you this much at this rate today – are we good?” he says. The other way calls for understanding the client’s business – how long has it been open, does it make more cash deposits or credit card deposits, would it be best-served by an advance, a loan, an equipment lease or a line of credit, how much can it afford in monthly payments?

Justin Bakes Forward Financing
Justin Bakes, CEO, Forward Financing

Establishing how the merchant intends to use the funding plays a crucial role in the consultative sale, Marmott agrees. Objections can arise when a merchant learns that receiving $100,000 this week will require paying back $150,000 in four or five months, he notes. So it’s essential to demonstrate that using the money productively will more than pay for the deal. A trucking company can realize more income if it deploys two more trucks, or a restaurant can increase revenue by placing another bar outside for the summer, he says by way of example.

“A lot of salespeople ask a business owner what they need the money for,” observes Thompson. “The merchant says, ‘Inventory,’ and the rep stops right there. I train my reps at National Funding to go two or three clicks deeper.” Examples abound. When does the merchant need the inventory? From whom do they order it? How long does it take to ship? How long does it take to turn it over? What are the shipping terms?

The consultative approach can require salespeople to pose a lot of open-ended questions that can’t be answered yes or no, according to Thompson. Ideally, the conversation should adhere to the 80-20 rule, with the client talking 80 percent of the time and the sales rep speaking 20 percent, he asserts, adding that “a lot of times it’s reversed in this industry.”

“A LOT OF TIMES IT’S REVERSED IN THIS INDUSTRY”


Sometimes, however, salespeople should set aside the time-consuming consultative approach and instead find funding for a merchant as soon as possible. That’s true when the business owner can make an opportune purchase of inventory or when it’s time to acquire a competitor quickly. More often, however, it pays to take the time to understand the merchant’s needs and search out the best type of funding for that particular case, top sales people maintain.

Jared Weitz
Jared Weitz, CEO, United Capital Source

Much of the alternative small-business finance industry has caught on to the importance of the consultative approach to sales as the array of available alternative financial products has grown beyond the industry’s initial offerings of merchant cash advances, according to Weitz. The days of scripted pitches and preplanned rebuttals to objections have ended, he says. Today, management trains reps for success.




THE RIGHT TRAINING


Are top salespeople born that way? “Some people hit the ground running, but sales can be taught – that’s for sure,” Weitz says. “The tougher thing to teach is integrity.” Much of the training process focuses on learning the products to enable a rep to make a consultative sale and shoulder financial responsibility, he maintains.

Believing that some people are born to sell provides a crutch to avoid learning what really works, according to Bakes. Training can teach a smart, motivated person how to succeed, he maintains. They don’t have to be born that way.

However, some people do seem born to exert influence, which can translate into sales prowess, says Thompson. Still, those born with a strong work-ethic can overcome other deficiencies, he notes. The work ethic drives them to “come in every day,” he notes. “They’re organized and disciplined. They follow the National Funding philosophy, and they make a ton of money.”

Justin Thompson National Funding
Justin Thompson, VP of Sales, National Funding

National Funding trains salespeople to view their craft as being defined by two broad elements – art and science, Thompson continues. The science proves easier to master and includes asking the right questions to learn about the customer and the deal. The hard part, the art of the sale, consists of getting to know the business owner, building a relationship and demonstrating expertise. In one example, that’s based on learning how many trucks are in the fleet, whether they’re long-haul or short haul and whether they use dumpsters versus box trailers, he says.

Beyond those important basics, training should be ongoing because selling techniques change slightly as new products and systems emerge, according to Weitz. “One of the things I like about being a broker is the ability to pivot and add another arrow to your quiver,” he says.

Salespeople at United Capital Source talk sales among themselves almost nonstop, which amounts to daily sales training, Weitz observes. That can take the form of describing a challenge and explaining how to overcome it, he notes. A particularly good idea merits an email to the group to share the new piece of wisdom. It’s a matter of constantly refining the approach.

Training can help sales reps understand the businesses their clients run, according to Marmott. Knowing the margins in a restaurant, for example, can help the salesperson explain that the increase in revenue from an expansion will quickly pay the cost of capital, he notes.

Training should teach new employees how business works because common elements arise in enterprises ranging from dog grooming to asphalt paving, Thompson notes. There’s inventory, marketing, employee expense, payroll taxes, insurance and 401k’s in almost any business. “We teach all that to the reps,” he says. Then after conversations with thousands of merchants, reps have a solid foundation in the workings of businesses.

classroomNational Business Capital’s formal two-week classroom training usually lasts three hours a day, focusing on systems, guidelines, product, general business principles and the company’s processes, says Camberato. Teachers include the sales management team, company culture leaders and the managers of IT and Tech, Marketing, Processing, and Human Resources.

New hires spend much of their time working with mentors for the first six months and a team leader who works with them indefinitely, Camberto continues. The company sometimes hires in groups and sometimes hires individually, he notes.

National Funding provides three eight-hour days of regimented classroom training on the fundamentals to each of the four groups of 12 to 17 hired each year, says Thompson. The classes cover processes, sales strategy, marketing and the lender matrix. Next comes three months of working with a sales manager dedicated to working with the class. After a total of nine to 12 months, management knows which reps will succeed.

Some shops operate on the opener-closer model, with less experienced salespeople qualifying the merchant by asking questions like how long they’re been in business and how much revenue they bring in monthly, Marmott says. If the merchant qualifies, the newer salesperson who’s working as an opener then hands off the call to an experienced closer to complete the deal. Good openers become closers, but opening isn’t easy because it requires lots of calls, he notes.

National Funding doesn’t use the opener-closer approach because the company believes reps should Participate “from cradle to grave,” Thompson says. “They hunt the business down, build the relationship and handle the transaction from A to Z.” East Coast shops often focus on cold calling and use the opener-closer model, while West Coast shops tend to invest more in marketing and reject the opener-closer method, he noted.

But where do these top salespeople come from?




THE RIGHT BACKGROUND


Prospective sales reps who have just finished college should have a grounding in communications or business, Weitz believes. Experience in sales and a familiarity with dealing with merchants helps prepare reps, he notes. Job history doesn’t have to be in the finance industry. Someone who’s sold business services in a Verizon store or worked for a payroll company, for instance, has been dealing with small-business owners and may succeed more quickly than those without that background.

Sales experience in other industries counts, Bakes agrees, especially in businesses that require dealing with a large number of leads. “Organization and process is just as important as being born with the traits of a salesperson,” he opines.

Life experience that breeds a positive attitude can prove vital, says Marmott. That’s especially important in the beginning when a new rep might take home a paltry $300 in the first month. Later, when the rep has a $50,000 month, he or she will see that their optimism wasn’t misplaced, he declares.

“THE BIGGEST THING I LOOK FOR IS
GUYS WHO ARE HUNGRY”


“The biggest thing I look for is guys who are hungry,” Marmott maintains. I don’t need somebody with a doctorate or a master’s degree or even a degree,” he says. “I need somebody who is going to put the work in.” Of a roomful of 25 new reps, two or three will succeed and stay on the job, he calculates. “You get to eat what you kill. If you’re not killing anything, you don’t get to eat.”

“We look for potential candidates who come from backgrounds of rejection,” says Thompson. Their previous sales experience has taught them not to take the answer “no” personally. “It’s part of the business and you continue to move on.”

“IT HAS BLUE COLLAR WRITTEN ALL OVER IT”


Although most regard the financial services industry as a white-collar pursuit, “it has blue collar written all over it,” Thompson says, referring to the work ethic required for success. But it’s not just the volume of work. Sixty good phone calls generate more business than 300 mediocre calls, he emphasizes.




GETTING UP TO SPEED


Succeeding at sales requires taking the time to form relationships, understand guidelines, become familiar with lenders and acquire a working knowledge of how clients’ businesses operate, Camberato says. How long does it take? “It’s a solid year,” he contends while conceding that most who succeed operate at a fairly high level before then.

“I’VE SEEN IT TAKE 30 DAYS”


Others disagree about what constitutes being up to speed and how much time’s necessary to achieve it. “I’ve seen it take 30 days, and I’ve seen it up to 120 days,” says Weitz. “The hope is that it’s within 60.”

A salesperson should start feeling better after 30 days and should start feeling good after 60 days, Marmott says. Management can usually identify the strong and the week reps within two to three weeks, he says. “You get the lazy ones that drop out, the guys who aren’t making any money, the ones who aren’t putting the effort in,” he says. “The first two weeks are the toughest because you’re learning the product and how to sell it.”

“It depends on the person,” Bakes says of the time needed to begin selling successfully. “It takes time. It is not something that will just happen overnight.” About six months should suffice to become confident as a closer, he estimates.

Even when sales reps hit their stride, some outsell others, Marmott notes, citing the 80-20 rule that 80 percent of the business comes from 20 percent of the salesforce. Outbound sales to merchants who may feel beleaguered by offers of funding requires more effort than when a merchant makes an inbound call to seek funding, he adds.

And even the best salespeople need great marketing and tech support from the their companies, sources agree.




INVESTING IN SALES


A shop just starting out might have a marketing budget as low as $2,500 a month, which won’t do much more than pay for direct mail pieces that might prompt a few potential clients to pick up the phone, Weitz says. With a little more money to spend, a shop can begin buying leads, he notes. “Don’t break the bank before you understand what formula works for you,” he advises.

“YOU CAN BE THE BEST SALES GUY BUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING QUALIFIED TO CALL OR FOLLOW UP WITH, IT’S A WASTE OF TIME”


“The key to sales is marketing,” says Marmott. “You can be the best sales guy but if you don’t have anything qualified to call or follow up with, it’s a waste of time.” Social media doesn’t work as well for business-to-business contact as it does for business-to-consumer marketing, he says. Pay per click and key words have become more expensive and isn’t as cost-effective as it once was, especially for smaller shops, he contends. Mailers can work but require heavy volume and repetition, he says, adding that could mean at least 25,000 pieces and at least three mailings.

Besides allocating marketing dollars, companies can invest in sales by paying new sales staffers a salary instead of forcing them to rely on commissions to eke out subsistence during the tough early days. National Business Capital pays a salary at first and later switches reps to commissions and draw, Camberato says. “An energetic person interested in sales can plug into our platform, get trained and do very well,” he continues. “We believe in you, as long as you believe in us.”

National Funding provides recruits with a salary and commissions so that they have enough income to get by and still reap rewards when they help close a deal, Thompson says.

Investment in technology can help salespeople set priorities, eliminate some of the drudge work in the sale process, measure the sales staff member’s success or lack of success, and provide a consistent experience for customers, notes Bakes. “Because of the way our technology is set up we can hold people accountable,” he adds.

Every salesperson and every shop should organize the workflow by using a lead-management system or customer relationship management tool (CRM) – such as Zoho or Salesforce –instead of operating with just a spreadsheet, Weitz says.

Brokers can invest in sales through syndication, which means putting up some of the funds involved in a deal. Forward Financing favors syndication in some cases because it aligns the salesperson and the funder, thus demonstrating the sales rep’s belief in the validity of the deal and ensuring a willingness to continue servicing that customer, Bakes says.

Some shops offer monthly bonuses for outstanding sales results, but Weitz believes awarding incentives weekly makes more sense. With a monthly cycle, some reps tend to slack off for the first week or so because they believe they can make up for lost time later. With weekly rewards, there’s not much room for downtime, he notes.

Whatever form investment takes, it can help build a sterling reputation and a free-flowing “pipeline.”




THE RIGHT REPUTATION


“Reputation is huge,” especially for repeat business and referrals, Marmott says. Once a merchant has received funding, a blizzard of sales call can follow. Treating customers right by maintaining ethical standards and helping them during hard times can guard against defection to a competitor touing low prices, he says.

Reputation requires differentiation, which usually occurs online, by email or over the phone, notes Bakes. Factors that enhance reputation include referrals by satisfied customers and real-world testimonials from actual customers and good ratings on social media sites, he says.

While it’s still uncertain what role social media plays in the industry’s reputation-building efforts, it appears that text messages elicit quick responses if the client has agreed to communicate with the company via that format, Bakes says. He notes that unwanted text messages won’t work. Email messages provide more information than text messages but seem less likely to prompt response, he says.




THE RIGHT GOAL


So, where does the effort to succeed at sales lead? It’s the foundation for building “the pipeline” – the name given to the flow of renewals, referrals and leads that makes every day not just busy, but busy in a productive and profitable way. As a rep’s pipeline takes shape, the cost of acquiring new business also goes down, Marmott says. “It just grows from there,” he says of the successful salesperson’s endeavors at building a pipeline of business. It’s what successful salespeople seek.

9 Real Industry Stories To Get You Fired Up

March 7, 2018
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determinedWhether you’re working from home as an independent agent or you’re the owner of a young alternative funding startup, here are nine deBanked stories that are guaranteed to inspire. For those of you that haven’t been in the industry very long, you’ll definitely want to read some of the older ones!

Nest Planner: The Story Of A Startup MCA Broker | 3/4/18


Hard Work, Big Success – The True Story of an MCA Broker | 12/15/17


A True Rapid Advance For Mark Cerminaro | 12/16/16


Can an ISO “Excel” in 2016? | 8/26/16


Stairway to Heaven: Can Alternative Finance Keep Making Dreams Come True? | 4/28/16


The Dual Aura of Fora – How Two College Friends Built Fora Financial and Became the “Marketplace” of Marketplace Lending | 2/16/16


The Closer – Meet the Yellowstone Capital Rep That Originated $47 Million in Deals Last Year | 2/10/16


Meet the Source: How Jared Weitz and United Capital Source became one of the industry’s fastest growing shops | 10/23/15


From Lowes to Loans: Meet William Ramos | 4/12/15





Ready to network with your industry peers in person? Register For Broker Fair! coming on May 14 in Brooklyn, NY.

Hard Work, Big Success – The True Story of an MCA Broker

December 15, 2017
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Sales is a tough field for anyone to break into even if they come from the most ideal of circumstances. At some point, the rubber meets the road for every MCA broker, at which time they must decide whether they’ve got what it takes to make it in this business.

Lerry Dore
Lerry Dore, Cresthill Capital

This is what makes Lerry Dore’s story so remarkable, as it seems that the more he got knocked down in life, the higher he was destined to rise. Today he’s employed as an MCA broker at Cresthill Capital. And while education has been paramount to getting him here, evidenced by the fact that during his entire employment he has been in college and he is still one of the funding company’s most successful brokers, Dore more than anything else was trained at the school of hard knocks.

Coming to America

Dore was born in South Florida, but he wouldn’t stay in the United States for long. After his parents split up, his mom was having a tough time making ends meet and made the impossible decision to send him to Haiti to live with extended family.

“My mom had a very hard time supporting us right out of the gate. Soon after I was born, I was sent to Haiti to live with my aunt and cousins,” he said, adding that this gave his mom a chance to get on her feet. “She needed to get a job so that she could provide for us at a basic level.”

Dore would remain in Haiti for the first three years of his life, where his first language would become Haitian Creole. But you wouldn’t detect a hint of an accent talking to him today at the age of 23.

Dore’s mom eventually found a job. She was only earning minimum wage at a hospital, but it was enough to get the wheels in motion to bring her son home.

“She was in a position to provide food, electricity and shelter for us. That’s why I came back,” said Dore, adding that he doesn’t remember much of Haiti with the exception of the plane ride home. “That’s where my memories start,” he said. Perhaps it was somewhere over the Caribbean that young Dore’s dreams began to form.

When he got back to Florida, Dore was able to meet his mom for what felt like the first time for him. He also met his brothers and sisters for the first time ever. He explained how at this point, his mom was still getting adjusted to life in America as an adult immigrant.

haitian flag“There were a lot of things that I went through as a kid to this point that she couldn’t give me guidance on. She simply didn’t have that experience. That brought a challenge,” he said. Little did he know that these obstacles would help shape him into the resilient person and successful MCA broker he is today.

While getting used to the American culture was a challenge, something that his mother never lost sight of was the importance of education. “She was very big into education,” he said. Dore’s mom discovered Head Start, a government subsidized program that provided a pre-school education for families who couldn’t otherwise afford it. That was where it would all begin for Dore, and come hell or high water his mother was going to enroll him. Without the luxury of an air-conditioned vehicle to drive in the hot Florida heat, the pair set off on foot to sign up. Some 12-15 blocks later they arrived.

“Both of us were sweating bullets. She didn’t know it, but there was a small registration fee. At the time, she didn’t have it,” Dore explained. It was then that fate seems to have stepped in in the form of the woman who was handling registration. She pulled the pair aside and told them that after witnessing the dedication that this mother had toward her son, she was going to waive the fee. In return she only asked that they keep it on the down low.

“That small gesture made a dramatic difference in my life,” Dore said. “If I was not able to attend, I wouldn’t start school until I was seven or 10 years’ old. That was a very important moment in my life.”

Indeed, it was, as it would set in motion a series of events that would lead Dore to where he is today, a successful MCA broker at Cresthill Capital. But before he would join the firm, there were still more hardships waiting for him, not the least of which was the death of a friend in his teenage years. “That could have been me,” Dore exclaimed.

For the average person, life’s setbacks could have held them down forever. For Dore, they seem only to have propelled him further. “The reason why I stayed out of trouble was I was in school and my mother kept us grounded,” he said.

During his teenage years, Dore and his family lived in an apartment complex in a neighborhood of immigrant Haitians where he said the median income was $25,000 to $30,000 per year. He shared a room with his brothers and sisters.

Boca Raton HS
Boca Raton High School where Dore went to school

“I focused on athletics,” he said, adding: “That’s where I got my competitive nature. Also, my thick skin,” both of which, incidentally, are characteristics that would serve him well as a broker later in life.

While he excelled at basketball at his Boca Raton high school, Dore wouldn’t be able to pursue those dreams for long. He and his family would be uprooted from their home time and time again amid landlord trouble. This series of setbacks, which involved him sleeping on his brother’s couch for a time, instilled a sense of maturity in Dore at a very young age.

He had a few Division II and Division III offers to play basketball in other states, but he turned them down. Instead of chasing his own dreams, Dore decided to focus on business and find a way to sustain and support his family “Once I graduated, I was not interested in basketball. I wanted to finish college,” said Dore, and lucky for the MCA industry he had his sights set on the field of finance.

Funding Merchants

After High School, the first thing that Dore did was to go online and look for a job. As it so happens, the first ad he saw was at a stock brokerage in Boca Raton. “That’s where I started, in phone sales. I didn’t have a Series 7 license at the time. I was just calling from the Yellow Pages. Once I got someone on the phone, I would transfer the call to someone who had a license,” he explained.

This went on for a couple of months until he heard about a startup company in nearby Delray Beach. “At the time, they were prospecting merchants. That’s how I got into the industry,” he said.

suit and tieHis first job in the MCA niche was with a very small ISO shop. But it was there that he would make a connection to change the course of his career. He was working on a deal that was hard to place and was only getting rejections. That is until he came across Mike Daniels, Cresthill’s No. 1 producer.

“I couldn’t get the deal done anywhere else. The merchant was getting frustrated with the process. I heard of a company that takes chances on merchants with imperfect credit,” he said. That funder was Cresthill Capital. Little did he know at the time, but they would eventually become his employer.

He sent the merchant file over to Daniels, who then reached out to the merchant and got the deal funded. It was at that point, Dore said, that he started to fall in love with Cresthill “because of how [Daniels] was able to treat the merchant with respect and get the deal done.”

For the next six months, Dore would proceed to trust all of his business with Cresthill. He was still employed by the small ISO shop, but he began to outgrow his environment and long for a platform that allowed him to explore his talent and excel. But his pursuit only left him frustrated and thinking about leaving the MCA industry, something he confided in Cresthill Capital’s Daniels, who was turning into a mentor, about.

It was at this point in his life and career that instead of being the rock, Dore needed to lean on someone else. Daniels and Cresthill Capital were there for him. He was invited in for an interview, and as they say the rest is history.

“I was shocked at how diverse the workforce is. There were different types of people with different backgrounds. I liked it right off the bat. And then everyone was very friendly to me from the moment I walked in,” he said. He was greeted at the front door by Cresthill Capital’s Mike Marano, who then proceeded to interview him.

silhouette“I’ve actually interviewed and sat with every single person at my company and hired them personally. What I can say about Lerry is that from the moment I looked at his face and saw his eyes, I knew intuitively that he was a good person. And responsible. I had no idea how deep of a person he was, how much humanity he would show. He was a willing student, and we were happy to teach him. And he continues to soak it up like a sponge,” Marano told deBanked.

Dore was convinced Cresthill Capital was the right place for him when Marano insisted that Dore stay in school and continue his education. “They said, ‘we will work around your schedule,’ and that really drew me in,” he said, adding that the dog-friendly environment was a bonus.

Dore has been employed by Cresthill Capital for the past 18 months and is graduating from college this week. He is not only supporting himself, but he’s the highest earner in his family, which has allowed him to help support them.

Paying it Forward

As if on cue from the mystery lady that paid his school tuition when he was just a child, Dore is now interested in paying it forward in life. He said that similar to how Cresthill Capital is involved with philanthropy, he’d like to give back to the community. But his vision goes beyond his neighborhood.

“I want to help kids that are similar to me, who are in programs that try to help them excel in this country. I want at some point to work with immigrants that come in from Haiti and work with them to give them a platform, like the lady who gave us a chance,” said Dore.

Since the Haiti earthquake, his extended family has relocated north to Canada. “But I still feel to some degree a responsibility to try and help out the people in that country and the ones who come here through immigration,” he said.

As for Marano, he said all Dore needs to do is exactly what he’s been doing. “When he leaves me, he won’t have to work again. But knowing this kid, he probably will anyway,” Marano said.

The Road To Training The Best Sales Reps

February 26, 2017
Article by:

This story appeared in deBanked’s Jan/Feb 2017 magazine issue. To receive copies in print, SUBSCRIBE FREE

Sales Training

Alternative-finance industry executives tend to agree on at least two basic rules for building a successful sales team: Hire people who know how to sell and never stop training them. Following the second rule requires knowledge and perseverance. The first one takes a leap of faith.

To obey Rule No. 1, companies have to find ways of determining who possesses that elusive quality known as salesmanship, even among inexperienced job candidates. To that end, most firms make an educated guess based on experience, intuition, common sense, high hopes and the good graces of Lady Luck.

“We look at personality traits,” says Zach Ramirez, a World Business Lenders vice president and manager of the company’s Costa Mesa, Calif., branch. “We’re looking for an outstanding person – the highest-caliber person we can find. They should be hard-working and competitive. You can underline ‘competitive.’ They should have a fire inside them.”

“We want someone who’s hungry for money and is going to be a go-getter, says Chad Otar, CEO and executive funding manager at Excel Capital Management Inc. “It’s a feeling that you get when you talk to them. You can tell when a person is going to sit back and not do anything.” In addition, good candidates aren’t intimidated by the challenge of learning how the industry works, he notes.

sales agent“It’s really about how you connect with someone,” according to Amanda Kingsley, who owns Options Capital and also works as a sales training consultant. “Even over the phone, you need to treat people with understanding. You need to inspire the trust that you could provide the advisory help they need.” Small details, like remembering a potential client’s daughter just got married, mean a lot, she says.

“It comes down to drive and personality,” says John Celifarco, sales manager at Sure Funding Solutions. He finds there’s not much room for the thin-skinned and it takes a certain kind of person to succeed. “When you find the right people, it usually clicks pretty quick,” he says. “For the people who don’t work out, it usually falls apart pretty quick.”

“I look for strong personalities,” says Isaac Stern, CEO of Yellowstone Capital. “I don’t believe you can necessarily teach someone to sell,” he asserts. “This isn’t an easy sell, so you have to have a Type A personality. They’re on the phone and they’re confident whether they know the product or not in the beginning.” The interview process can “weed out” candidates who aren’t going to find success, he says.

Don’t expect someone with a background in outside sales to find happiness spending eight hours a day on the phone as an inside salesperson, warns Stephen Halasnik, managing partner at Financing Solutions. As a direct financing company, his firm hires salespeople different from those an ISO or broker employs, he says. His company expects salespeople to act as consultants who are knowledgeable about finance and empathetic to small-business owners.

Nearly every company prefers candidates with selling experience, possibly in telemarketing. Some seek reps with a background in selling financial services, but others prefer prospective employees who are new to the industry. “I don’t want to hire someone else’s problem child,” Stern asserts. “I’d like them to learn the way we do things from start
to finish.”

Sales professional on phone“Different offices have different cultures, so someone who has worked well in one office might not work well in another,” Celifarco says. People hired from other companies may bring bad habits, he says. They may approach the job in a variety of ways they’ve learned elsewhere and thus prevent the company from presenting a consistent face to the public, he says. “Every company has an identity,” he contends.

Applicants without a sales background sometimes rise to the occasion and succeed, says Ramirez. In fact, one of his top sales managers joined the company with no sales experience. Former entrepreneurs, even those without a sales background, often have a lot in common with other small-business owners and that helps them do well, he notes.

Excel Capital Management seeks salespeople with differing backgrounds for two different types of roles in its sales force, says Otar. Openers work on salary and should have phone sales experience so they’re comfortable on the telephone. Closers, who work for commissions, should have experience at selling financial services products or something closely
related, such as stocks or mortgages, he says.

While good hiring practices bring good employees into the company, they also guard against inviting bad ones into the fold. World Business Lenders uses several third-party companies to perform background checks and pre-employment screening, but most often calls upon ADP, says Alex Gemici, the company’s chief revenue officer. ADP performs evaluations that comply with the laws of the states where the employees are located, he says.

“IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND LOYAL GUYS”


Eliminating unsavory candidates carries special significance in the alternative-finance business, notes Ramirez. “It’s critically important that they have no background issues,” he says. “In this industry there a lot of bad apples out there. It’s important that they don’t infiltrate our organization.”

“It’s very difficult to find loyal guys,” Otar laments. “They come in and utilize all your systems and then you catch them stealing.” In other words, they pass deals along to other companies. Otar has caught three of his closers doing exactly that. “You’ve got to be very careful,” he warns, adding that it’s difficult to spot bad actors because they’re skilled at selling themselves.

Once a company chooses the best candidates, the training can begin. New salespeople always start on Mondays at World Business Lenders, and the company’s corporate headquarters conducts sales training nationwide that day, says Gemici. The full day of instruction originates at headquarters, and new hires at branch locations participate on Skype. Subjects include the industry in general, specific company products and sales tips.

World Business Lenders Ribbon Cutting Jersey City

Ribbon Cutting at WBL’s new Jersey City headquarters in 2016

On Tuesdays, the World Business Lenders branches take over the training for a day or more, Gemici notes. That instruction, which lasts as long as the branches decide, can include having the new employees “shadow” more-experienced workers and having crack salespeople listen in on the phone calls of the new staffers as they make their pitches.

In the World Business Lenders office in California, Ramirez continues the training every day of a new employee’s first two weeks on the job. Tuesday and Wednesday of the first week, he spends the full eight-hour day with them. After that, he sets aside at least two or three hours of instruction each day. “I want to err on the side of over-training,” he explains.

From there, education continues as long as employees work for the company, Ramirez says. That can include spot training that he institutes anytime he sees a problem or an opportunity for improvement. Ongoing training also helps salespeople keep up with changes that occur in the industry, he notes.

The sales staff in the California office of World Business Lenders also assembles in a conference room for regular sales meetings. Ramirez picks a rep who’s outstanding at some aspect of the job to deliver a short lecture on the subject at those meetings. A star at prospecting, for example, could explain tricks of that part of the trade and then field questions on the subject. “That way, everybody can learn what everybody else knows,” he says.

For ongoing training at Financing Solutions, Halasnik calls his staff into a “huddle” for 10 minutes every day. They review what deals are pending so that salespeople know what management is seeking and can use that knowledge when they’re gathering data from customers. “We’re looking for reasons to give someone financing that doesn’t fit the cookie cutter approach a bank would use,” he notes. The team also use the huddle to share information about the industry.

At Sure Funding Solutions the sales staff meets every couple of weeks for ongoing training. They talk about some aspect of the sales process, such as opening, closing, dealing with banks, what’s working and what’s not working, says Celifarco. “I’ve been in this business since ’08, and I’m still learning new things,” he notes, adding that changing one phrase in a pitch could get better results.

Ongoing training at Excel hinges on monitoring phone calls to ensure openers are asking the appropriate questions to qualify leads and that closers are working effectively, Otar emphasizes. “It’s a never-ending process to learn what to say at the right time,” he says of his company’s training policies. Salespeople who have mastered the basics can bring their own personalities into their presentations to avoid sounding as though they’re reading from a script and thus foster an organic conversation, he notes. “That’s perfect – it’s golden,” he exclaims.

Kingsley agrees. “Don’t be too ‘salesy,’” she counsels. “That’s the best sales advice I can give.” Nobody enjoys receiving a telemarketing call, she reminds her trainees. Larger companies probably won’t heed that tip because they’re focused on volume, but smaller companies can avoid the “salesy” trap, she says.

Training should also teach originators to avoid industry jargon on their calls because prospects simply may not know the lingo, Kingsley cautions. Closers should learn from their training that knowledge of the customer’s industry can help build a relationship, she says. And knowing the customer’s industry also helps salespeople convey a deeper understanding of creditworthiness to underwriters, she maintains.

Financing Solutions trains salespeople to reveal information to clients through a string of questions instead of merely throwing out statements about the company’s products, Halasnik says. The questions can include how the customer’s business works and how he’ll use the money. That can allow the client to sell himself, and it can help the salesperson explain the client’s situation to the underwriters, he says.

Salespeople should learn to present themselves as professionals and avoid sounding like used car dealers, Halasnik maintains. “They have to understand business,” he notes, adding that training must convey that sensibility because “they don’t really come in that way.” In fact, he maintains that financing Solutions has to persevere in continuing to help the sales staff understand how small-business owners think.

Even though training never ends, it eventually pays off, Halasnik contends. He looks forward to the time – possibly in six months or so – when the roles reverse because his salespeople are picking up so much information that they’re training him. The fact that sales reps are making contact with customers keeps them in touch with the pulse of the industry, he notes.

“IF YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE $10,000 OFF OF A SALE, PUT IN THE WORK FOR IT”


But problems can arise even with the most persistent training efforts, so it’s also vital to begin the process with employees who are trainable, Kingsley suggests. “Some people listen to you, but then they don’t act on the advice,” she maintains. Others don’t want to expend the effort necessary to research their customers’ industries. “If you’re going to make $10,000 off of a sale, put in the work for it,” she admonishes.

Some companies are hiring lots of salespeople and putting them to work quickly as part an effort to achieve sheer volume, Kingsley says. Instead, she recommends training a smaller number of reps to conduct themselves in a transparent manner that promotes repeat business.

moneyWorld Business Lenders allows for a 90-day period to determine whether a new salesperson and the company are a good fit, says Gemici. Turnover occurs during that period, often because the company is growing so quickly that it’s necessary to take on a few inexperienced employees, he says. For salespeople who complete the 90 days, the success rate is high, he notes.

“We like to say six weeks,” Otar says of his company’s probationary period. By then, a closer should be making four to seven deals a week, he suggests, noting that openers should generate 15 to 25 leads weekly and five to seven should be getting funded.

Salespeople can require four months to really catch onto their jobs, according to Halasnik. He finds that he can gauge their progress by the quality of the questions they ask, not by what they say. As they learn the business, their questions improve, he notes.

The effort required to find and train salespeople can tempt some companies to steal good employees from their competitors, but the problem’s no more severe in the alternative-finance industry than in other businesses, according to Ramirez. “I never intentionally poach someone else’s employees, although people have tried to recruit mine,” he says. “Most of these people are clients. These competitors of ours send deals to us so I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that relationship nor do I think that’s a good business tactic.”

So where are those prospective employees hiding? World Business Lenders employs a full-time in-house recruiter to ferret them out. Excel finds candidates on industry blogs or through general employment websites. Kingsley urges companies to contact colleges to seek out finance majors. Stern says he puts up a post and receives “tons of resumes.”

Wherever the employees come from, one of the keys to their success lies in understanding the customer’s business, Halasnik maintains. “If you only think of your business as money, it could be a little bit boring,” he says. “If you think about who the clients are and how they got there and who their customers are, that’s the fun part of the job.”

This article is from deBanked’s Jan/Feb 2017 magazine issue. To receive copies in print, SUBSCRIBE FREE

Motivating Your Sales Force – Tips From the Floor

August 30, 2016
Article by:

This story appeared in deBanked’s Jul/Aug 2016 magazine issue. To receive copies in print, SUBSCRIBE FREE

time for sell

Fancy steak dinners, electronic devices and cold hard cash are just some of the ways ISOs and funders these days are motivating sales reps to bring in business.

Although it’s largely a field for self-starters, many companies find that even small tokens of appreciation do wonders to increase rep productivity. “Waving a carrot in front of your reps can make a massive difference,” says Zachary Ramirez, branch manager of the Costa Mesa, California branch of World Business Lenders, an ISO and a lender.

When it comes to motivating sales reps, every company does things slightly differently. Some have more established incentive programs, while others are more ad hoc, depending on how the day, week or month is shaping up. The common goal of all the programs, however, is to give a little something to get something greater in return.

Ramirez remembers one sales rep who won a trip to Las Vegas and then continued to be the top rep for three months running. “Those types of rewards can keep a sales team motivated, hungry and excited,” he says.

From time to time, Ramirez offers rewards such as a small cash bonus if a rep meets certain metrics like getting three submissions in a day or multiple fundings in a week. In addition, whenever his reps, who are all hourly employees, hit key performance indicators, Ramirez rewards them with a poker chip. After they accumulate enough, they can trade in their chips for various prizes. Twenty-five poker chips might be worth a flat-screen TV and 50 chips could be an expense-paid trip to Las Vegas, for example.

When it comes to motivation, it’s important to incentivize the correct behavior, Ramirez says, noting that in his earlier years running an ISO, he used to reward reps based on the number of calls they made in a day rather than applications, approvals or fundings.

The latter represent a much more serious commitment and are worth motivating for as opposed to simply making a phone call, where the outcome is uncertain. “Even if they make as many as 500 phone calls in a day, it’s irrelevant if they are not moving the transactions forward by getting applications and bank statements,” he says.

It’s also very important to have clear-cut expectations; reps need to know the consequences of not performing, Ramirez says. Most top salespeople won’t need the stick. But it’s still necessary for them to know the policies, he says.

THE POWER OF SELF-ORIGINATION

One major way United Capital Source incentivizes its 15-person sales force is by self-originating leads. It provides its reps—who are all W2 employees—with merchants that are actively expecting phone calls as opposed to handing them a laundry list of names to pitch which may or may not pan out. It costs more for United Capital to do this, but it works well for the company and for its sales force, says Jared Weitz, chief executive of the New York-based alternative-finance brokerage.

“It enables us to put our guys in a position where they are growing with the company and the company is growing as well,” he says.

In addition, United Capital has an aggressive pay structure that allows salespeople to grow with the company. For instance, the pay plans are all based on how the company is doing overall, as opposed to an individual salesperson’s performance. In this way, it encourages the sales force to work together, as opposed to each person being out for himself. Weitz says its sales team understands that if the company hits x, the sales team gets y. United Capital also offers competitive healthcare and 401(k) plans and there’s no vesting period for employees to receive their 401(k) employer match. Additionally, the company does small things like Friday lunches on the company’s dime as a thank you for time spent. It’s another way to keep the sales team happy, Weitz says.

Fundzio, an alternative funder in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, also works very hard to make sure it keeps up its pipeline of fresh leads so that reps don’t have to do that on their own. Indeed, Fundzio provides them with between seven and ten fresh and promising revenue-earning opportunities each day. This helps tie the reps to Fundzio because they have a continuous stream of business and don’t have to find it on their own.

“It guarantees them at bats every day,” says Edward Siegel, founder and chief executive of Fundzio. It also helps tie the reps to Fundzio because they have constant business. “The key thing is having new leads,” he says.

wheel of fortuneAdditionally, anyone who funds a deal gets to spin a wheel in the office at the end of the business day and earn cash or special prizes like concert tickets or a fancy dinner or a $200 gift certificate. Reps really appreciate getting those prizes, which is evident when they come back to work after enjoying their steak dinner at a Fort Lauderdale waterfront restaurant. “I think it creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere feeling. A little bit goes a long way,” Siegel says.

One way Fundzio motivates reps from the get-go is to bring them on initially as independent contractors. If they prove themselves over a 90-day period, they have the opportunity to become an employee. At any given time, the company has about 20 to 25 sales reps, representing a combination of contractors and W2 employees.

Another way Fundzio helps motivate reps is by allowing them to earn residuals from repeat business for the life of the account as long as they are still employed by the funder. Many funders have renewal departments and reps don’t directly benefit when a customer does repeat business, but that’s not the case at Fundzio, Siegel says.

REVVING UP SALES WITH CONTESTS

Certainly, to succeed in the alternative finance industry, sales reps have to be self-starters. It’s a key requirement to do the job well, in part because so many shops are purely commission-based. Nonetheless, many companies find it helps to grease the wheel a bit—regardless of whether reps are independent or W2 employees.

Fast and Easy Funds, for instance, holds weekly contests to encourage its internal sales force of 15 independent contractors. One week the contest may be for the rep with the most dials, another week it’s for the most submissions and another week for the highest number of deals funded. Each contest pays in the vicinity of $150 to $250 cash. “Every week I change it up. They don’t know what the contest is going to be until the last day of the week,” says David Avidon, president of Fast and Easy Funds, a broker and alternative funder in Boca Raton, Florida.

iAdvanceNow, a brokerage firm in Uniondale, New York, runs daily, weekly and monthly bonuses for its 38-person sales force. For instance, if a rep submits two completed deals for approval in a day he or she might get $100 cash; for three completed deals, the cash bonus might be $250, says Eddie Hamid, president of iAdvanceNow.

On a weekly basis, for submitting six complete files, reps get one spin on a big Wheel of Fortune-like apparatus in the office. Everybody is a winner; the prize depends on where the arrow lands. It may be a cash prize of $20, $50, $100 or a physical prize like a 40 inch-Samsung TV, an Apple Watch or iPad, Hamid explains.

On a monthly basis, meanwhile, each team of five to seven sales reps has a goal. If as a team they reach their goal, they get $1,500. Additionally, the top producer of the month—provided he or she has achieved a minimum of three merchants being funded—receives the top producer bonus of $1,500. The runner-up receives a $1,000 bonus and the third place sales rep receives $500. The top team in the office also gets a steak dinner at a local establishment, Hamid says.

The system works because it gives them a drive to obtain a goal while also encouraging friendly competition, says Hamid, noting that he once overheard reps talking about how much they value being named the top producer. “With sales people, they are more concerned with the recognition than the prize or the money they are receiving,” he says.

iAdvance has been in business for about two years. The current motivational system has been in place for about a year-and-a-half and it seems to work very well to motivate the sales force, Hamid says. In addition, if they are having a down sales month, Hamid ups the ante for the daily goals, adding not only cash, but also prizes.

These techniques all help to light a fire under the sales force, he says.

salesSTRATEGIES FOR SLOW DAYS

Sometimes around 3 p.m., if he feels like the room is starting to quiet, Jordan Lindenbaum, director of sales at Excel Capital Management in New York, a business financing ISO, might offer $20 or $30 cash for the next submission. Or he might offer $40 to $50 for two or three submissions by the end
of the day.

“All it takes is one slow day to kill the energy of a sales rep,” he says.

Lindenbaum finds that motivation checkpoints seem to work well. For instance, at the end of the month, the firm commonly gives a $200 bonus to the sales rep with the most submissions. For actual deals funded, Excel Capital is also working to implement a more concrete revenue-based bonus system as well, Lindenbaum says.

Excel Capital works with independent ISOs in addition to its in-house staff to bring in business. To encourage independent ISOs to refer business, the funding company offers higher payouts to those who consistently bring in high quality deals than to ISOs who bring in deals sporadically.

Chad Otar, co-founder and managing partner at Excel Capital, says a key piece of motivating sales reps is to make sure the sales manager feels motivated as well. Accordingly, the firm also makes sure to motivate Lindenbaum with larger payments for doing an outstanding job of motivating the sales force to bring in deals. “We need to motivate the sales manager so the sales manager motivates the people on the phone. It’s a chain effect. You motivate one and it motivates the others,” he says.

Excel Capital also believes in the power of team rewards. Recently, for instance, company executives treated all staffers to a steak dinner at Delmonico’s in New York City. “We’ve done it many times so our team knows they are appreciated and that our goals were met because everyone worked together,” Otar says.

THE SALARY VS COMMISSION CONUNDRUM

Paying reps a base salary in addition to commissions is another strategy some ISOs use to motivate sales reps. A salary is especially meaningful to reps just starting out, notes Ramirez of World Business Lenders.

He says he has worked with a lot of ISOs and many of them don’t want to pay reps a base salary because they feel it’s a mistake to give them a cushion. Because by doing so, reps get comfortable and when they get comfortable, they don’t push deals—or so the thinking goes. But Ramirez believes this is counterproductive to the rep’s career and the ISO’s sales.

He believes reps should be given a big enough base while they are learning the industry—say for 90 days. Giving them $2,500 a month or so, motivates them and it doesn’t choke their possibility for survival. “You have to give every salesperson the opportunity to succeed. Give them some coaching, give them some guidance, give them a little time. But if there’s no possibility of that rep succeeding or being an asset to your team, it’s important to remove them as efficiently as possible,” he says.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but removing dead weight is also motivating for reps who are really working hard to sell, Ramirez says. To keep that person is demoralizing for the other reps—who may feel they don’t have to work as hard either or who feel they have job security even without doing their best. “It fosters complacency,” he says.