Building a Certified Consultant Network for Explosive Growth

    Note: This post was recently rewritten to take into account my experience building Certification Programs for my clients.Tech Support at Mitch's Company

    In 1985, I had co-founded Timeslips Corp and within five years it had become the largest time tracking software company at the time. Business was great! We were doing so well, that our success was about to strangle us. Why?

    Our client base was growing so fast, that our tech support center received over 3,000 calls each week… and we were not handling it as well as I would have liked. Our cost of support services was rising every month. Additionally, our best customers were demanding live assistance: They wanted on-site help to install and train staff how to use our award-winning Timeslips software.

    I couldn’t afford to add more tech support staff, and I certainly couldn’t afford to send our best people into the field.

    It was a catch 22.

    We needed more sales to cover the increased cost of support, but that would also put more strain on the already overworked support center. Plus we had already tapped out our sales channels. I was constantly thinking about how to increase revenue.

    Then one day, I woke up in a startled, inspired fit and had the answer!

    • The answer I woke up with that Saturday morning can literally add 6 or 7 figures to your bottom line with hardly any investment.
    • And, you will have more satisfied clients by providing them an extra service that doesn’t cost you a dime – on the contrary, it makes you money!

    The idea is itself quite simple.

    Yet the idea was not simple to execute and debug. It took me a year to figure it out and overcome the problems before the idea was implemented successfully.

    I’d like to share my experience with you, so you can take the fast track instead of stumbling your way through like I did for a year.

    The idea…

    As most business owners, I thought I had to build my company all by myself. It wasn’t until I realized the secret of using leverage by opening up an opportunity for other people that my business exploded.

    It was a win/win/win situation!

    Over the years, we had built a database of many happy clients, and I decided to tap into their skill and expertise.

    I sent a letter to our entire customer list and told them we were about to announce The Certified Consultant Program. I explained that we were looking for the top 3-5% of our most experienced users, who would be willing to go out and “consult” with our other clients.

    They would have to take an exam in order to qualify to become a Certified Consultant. Enrollment into the program would cost $995 of which $750 would be refunded if they flunked the qualification exam.

    Wow! What a Reaction!

    Hundreds and hundreds of people applied. We were excited about the huge potential. The idea was simple, but the implementation took some trial and error.

    The first time we sent out the exam, 80% of the candidates failed. So we created a study guide, and then only 70% failed. Our exam had delivered the best quality people in our user base.

    By the way, I am describing what I did in the late 1980’s while today all this would be done online with powerful cloud-based applications to completely streamline this process.

    Those who completed the training and enrolled in the program were sent a binder with instructions on how to be a professional consultant. It was packed with information on exactly how to train office staff, what steps to take to install our software and what each person needed to get started. Today, that “binder” would be deployed using a Learning Management System (LMS).

    Creating it took much more work than we originally anticipated. There were so many details Certified Consultants had to know that we didn’t even realize what was needed until we received the feedback from our clients. Our new Certified Consultants needed to know: how to conduct a class, how to market themselves, how to bill for their time and how to customize their presentations, it all had to be covered in great detail. 

    Not only did we have to teach some of them how to dress when they were going to see a client, we even had to explain to them that it was important that they brushed their teeth and made sure they smelled nice!  I can laugh now when I think about it, but back then it was very frustrating. The training binder was a complete kit designed to take an experienced person to the level of trained consultant very quickly.

    A New Profit Center

    One year later we had solved both our problems – our support cost was reduced and we had increased sales. The best part is, it didn’t cost us a nickel!

    • We had reduced the cost of our tech support center as the Certified Consultants provided on-site training and support.
    • The Certified Consultants were reselling products to their clients, which increased our sales effortlessly.
    • We now had the capacity to grow without adding pressure to the tech support center.

    How Would This Work For Me? 

    This business model can work for you too! Ask yourself, ‘How can I make this idea work for my company?’ Can you create a similar Consultant Network? Maybe you would call it and Advisory Network or a Master Coaching Program. The idea is essentially the same:

    Teach what you know to others… And have them become your minions!

    “Show Me The Money!”

    To fully illustrate how I monetized this, I thought I would lay out for you the full year one/year two program.

    1. The initial fee to join the program was $995. Every year about 200 candidates applied, of which 30% passed. Those who didn’t pass the qualification exam were refunded $750.

    Initial testing program to become a Certified Consultant: Revenue $94,000

    • 60 who passed x $995 = $59,700
    • 140 who didn’t pass x $245 = $34,300
    1. After they had passed the initial exam, we continued to train the Certified Consultants extensively. They were required to come to attend the Certified Consultants Symposium every two years at a minimum for four days of study and fun. Because the Symposium was invigorating, we saw a huge spike in sales afterward as a result.

    Yearly Certified Consultants Symposium: Revenue $100,000

    • 200 consultants x $500 = $100,000
    1. We created an on-site course (for our end users) and a manual for the Certified Consultants so they can run training classes. Even though we provided the course free to use at a client’s facility, the Consultants had to buy the workbooks from us for each person they trained. We sold over 2,000 a year and made $35 per book. They were professionally printed and bound and the price was low enough that copycat duplication wasn’t worth it the effort. This generated about $70,000. 
    2. All CCs were invited yearly to our symposium. If they chose not to attend, they still had to re-certify and pay an additional $500. About 100 on average did not come to the symposium but had to rectify, generating another $100,000.

    Revenue from the Certified Consultants Program:
    $364,000 per year!!!

    Estimated additional product and software license sales from Certified Consultants: about $300,000

    Reduces cost tech support center: $ 86,000

    Total Revenue: $920,000

    The following year, as the number of Certified consultants grew, the program generated well over a million dollars, and that’s what we could count.  This does not take into account the full impact our CCs had on brand recognition, company strength, protection from competitors and being perceived as the leader in our industry. 

    The power of having this 350 person army of sales people who pay us every year cannot be understated. They shared their enthusiasm for our products everywhere they went. They were consultants, they wanted clients, this is how they made a living. Some left full-time jobs and blossomed into powerful entrepreneurs. Our yearly symposiums were love-fests with fun activities, training on new techniques and a peek at future software releases.

    When I traveled, every city I visited, I took my local CCs out to dinner and had a great meeting. When we appeared at trade shows, our CCs would volunteer to man the booth and make presentations. When a large network of accounting firms decided to buy our system, it was the CC program that convinced them we were the right partner. 

    As I look back now, I can see even more possible streams of income:

    • Remember, the numbers you see above were from the year 1989, in many cases, some fees would increase 3x-10x and still be a great value. 
    • We did not charge our Consultants for client referrals as it was too complicated to track in those days, but with the Internet tools today, I certainly would. Or I would make referrals available at a cost so that they could subscribe to a referral network. This way, I still don’t need to track their earnings but would get paid referring clients.
    • If I could have closed clients on a combined service that included on-site training or consulting, I would have simply dispatched CC’s to client locations, keeping 50% or more of the fees. 
    • I would charge a higher yearly fee to stay IN the program to keep their certification.
    • I would run new product specials through this channel to pass along to their clients, with virtually no marketing expense at all. 
    • I would create different levels of certification, each level costing more than the level below it. The higher levels would entitle them to work with larger clients and on more complex systems or take a leadership position in the CC community.
    • I would build template websites for each Certified Consultant and charge a monthly fee to maintain it.
    • I would build a technology platform (or extend our own) for our CCs so they become dependent on our company (in a good way) and never disconnect.
    • Additionally, I would provide optional lead generation to those CCs who wanted to expand rapidly.

    By the time I sold the company, we had created a team of 350 Certified Consultants, and that number was still growing. They accounted for 20% of the sales volume after the 3rd year – All because of an idea that didn’t cost us a dime.

    Can you see how lucrative this can be?

    Expert Network TrainingJust imagine the impact creating a network of “experts” can have on your business. Think about how much more influence you can have by using a network of people to deliver your message. Keep in mind that you don’t need hundreds of people to get started, even 12 good people are ample for a robust, vibrant network. And, with 12, it will have lots of room to grow.

    If you have a business or practice with a product or service and a customer base you can do this! I know you can – and I will help you!

    Here’s the “test” to see if you have the right type of company
    to build your own Certified Consultant Program:

    If you teach a method of doing something – if you have developed a technique for making something work, if you have a formula and a process that can be repeated, you are in the perfect position to build and grow a network.

    Here are the 3 questions I use to qualify a potential client:

    1. Do you have a process, a program or a device that causes a transformation in another?
    2. Can your process, program or device be taught to another and can they too get that same transformation in another?
    3. Do you have at least 1000 clients who have experienced that transformation?
    (The number 1000 is a bit arbitrary, but when we run a pilot program we find that the top 3%-5% of your clients are interested in a new program. After that “pilot” class is complete and the rest hear the testimonials, many then become interested. That’s the origin of the “about a 1,000” number requirement.

    Allow me to state the obvious:  You have to have a business or practice with a product/service and a customer base to even begin to do this.

    If your client requires YOUR product to run their business or enhance their life, then perfect… You are in the best possible position. Still not sure? Here are a few ideas.

    • You sell software like I did, which needs support, customization, and training.
    • You’ve developed a technique on how to buy and sell homes for a profit and the end user needs your materials as well as training.
    • You have a medical or dental, chiropractic or surgical procedure you have perfected or an invention that goes along with a technique.
    • You have an ongoing training program that you build on regularly, your own way of doing something that gets results when others apply it.
    • You have a process like “How to hire nurses” or “How to start a retail business” or “How to raise your consciousness” which are all great candidates for this concept.
    • You have a tool (physical, electronic, software, or otherwise) that greatly reduces costs, save time, enhances results and you have to train people how to use it.

    The Steps:

    I offer this program to my clients to help them build their own Certified Consultant Program. Generally, the payback upon launch is practically immediate.

    We start with personal phone meetings with me, where I do a deep dive into your business model, I locate every possible opportunity available to add a Certified Consultant to your lead flow, sales flow, support systems and online communities.

    • I will then lay out the entire sequence of how it’s done, then ask you to start by assembling your Intellectual Property.
    • We then start building your learning management system from that IP, don’t worry – I give you one free to use while you are building your program, and I show you how it should be done.
    • While that’s happening, we build the business model together, I explain all the possible options, we decide what your program should look like.
    • Then, we come up with a detailed financial plan, showing how much revenue the program will generate and when, and I provide you with a full month-by-month P&L.
    • Then, we engineer a launch strategy optimized for your tribe, to fill the pilot program.
    • You write the sales letters, the video scripts and the sales scripts for your team, I review, edit and enhance based on my experience and your goals.
    • We then get ready to launch.
    • The launch “event” happens over one week. I highly suggest an application process, so each person will be interviewed before they are admitted into the program.
    • If you want a powerful launch with a lot of applicants, then don’t charge a refundable application fee, but if you do charge one, you will get fewer applicants but most will be serious players ready to go.
    • Then after the pilot, your company rolls out the program and trains that first pilot group.
    • We then strategize on how we will bring in the next class, how we will monetize yearly events and the upsell levels in the program.
    • If you are offering a lead program, where you are funneling leads to CC’s, you can charge for that. Better yet, close sales and pass those to your CC’s for execution, which is far more lucrative.

    There are so many ways to make this into powerful, expandable company builder that I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. The larger your prospect and customer base is, the more CC’s you will enroll. The more dependent you can make them on your company, the longer your will keep them and the more they will pay.

    Work Smarter, Build Your Brand,
    Grow Your Company And Watch Profits Multiply.

    While this plan isn’t for everyone, for the right type of company, it’s going to change your world. You’ll have friends in every city, you can have regional meetings where your CC’s pay to be with you. Your company supports the top tier of your client base while they support the rest. Your quality control ensures that nothing is lost in the process.  And, there’s hardly any cost to you!

    Visit my website at www.MyPowerTribe.com and fill out the form if you think you are a match for a program like this.

    See how one company used my method to skyrocket their success: Click Here

    Click here Book an Appointment to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

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