Payment Pressures the Backdrop, Agile ISVs the Forefront at M-S Cash Drawer Northeast Event

By: Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA

The setting for the M-S Cash Drawer Northeast Partner Conference May 14 was picturesque Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. But the real backdrop was the ever-changing payments industry. Top of mind for many of the nearly 100 attendees was the announcement late last week that Shift4 will acquire Revel Systems. Also discussed often were sales and service strategies to help VARs compete with large VC-backed POS/payments providers.

That said, front-and-center for most of the day were software providers. Half of the presentations were ISVs detailing their unique value propositions. Networking conversations included a restaurant VAR seeking a retail ISV, a VAR sharing with me his joy finding a channel-friendlier ISV to shift his merchants to, and a hardware provider telling me “I know we make hardware but it’s all about our ability to carry the right ISVs.”

I captured insightful quotes from three RSPA-member ISVs during their presentations to the several dozen VARs in attendance:

John Giles, Owner/President, Round2 POS

  • “Payments and POS have merged. Today you have to do both well.”
  • “You’re not just hemorrhaging sales when the POS system is down. You’re hemorrhaging your reputation.”
  • On sales compensation: “You don’t want residuals to make your salespeople lose their drive to be a hunter. For us, if you make 100% of your quota, you get 100% of the residuals. If you make 70% of your quota, you get 70% of the residuals. Anything less than 70% and you get zero residuals.”

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Evan Fytros, CEO, SoftTouch POS & Payments

  • “You have to have agility of you want to serve larger clients.”
  • On cash discounting: “You have to educate your merchant – and you have to be educated as a reseller.”
  • On payment compliance: “Hospitality is the most scrutinized industry.”

Travis Hare, Chief Revenue Officer, OrderCounter Hybrid Point of Sale Solutions

  • “It kills your whole day – maybe your whole week! – if you have an unhappy client. If severance is the right call, holding someone to an early termination fee is ridiculous.”
  • “You’re not at battle with your vendors. All the vendors here make money only when you make money.”
  • “Self-service kiosks have mostly been replaced by QR code ordering. It’s easier for the customer to take out their phone.”

Sales Secrets of Successful Solution Providers
I was honored to keynote the conference and also host a solution provider panel titled “Sales & Marketing Secrets of Successful Solution Providers” featuring Jerry Wittenauer of VAR Allen Business Machines, Mark Senor of VAR PMT Solutions, and RP Pathak of ISV Acute POS. All three company leaders shared detailed specifics about what’s working best for them in 2024. I jotted down as many notes as I could while holding a microphone:

  • Our main payment processor provides us with leads and has asked several questions before our first meeting with the merchant. It’s important to know as much as you can about the prospect before you sit down with them.
  • Customers are very smart today, so you have to be transparent and very knowledgeable.
  • Show them what they’re looking for, not what you have.
  • When prospects ask us for a link to check out our software, we tell them “we don’t have links.” We used to email them a link, and we went 0-for-30 with those prospects. We insist on doing a demo with them, and when we do that we close 98% of those leads.
  • Clicking on a DocuSign is the max of what I’ve seen a merchant be able to do online.
  • The best sales tool is service. I’ve gained new customers all over the country the last few months without doing one single outreach – it’s all been referrals.
  • We send a monthly email to all our customers so they’re aware of what we offer. Open rates for those emails are high.

Try, Test, Measure, Adapt
I conclude most all my channel presentations with those four words, and it was gratifying to hear the stories of M-S partners who are doing that. I met several second-generation VAR owners who continue to morph to the as-a-Service recurring revenue business model. One VAR said during the interactive portion of my keynote that he still can’t figure out how a one-time cash register guy like him got into selling phone systems. “It was easier than I expected, and the monthly residuals are great,” he said. “I never thought I’d be a phone company.”

Try, test, measure, adapt!

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Jim Roddy is the President and CEO of the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the retail IT channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as an RSPA board member, one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board, and several years as a business coach for VARs, ISVs, and MSPs. Jim has been recognized as one of the world’s Top Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by The CannaTech Group, and is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences on SMB best practices. He is author of two books – The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast. For more information, contact