What if there was a little-known business process that when applied carefully and diligently could rapidly accelerate revenue and build customer loyalty all at the same time? That's what I discovered the hard way when I accidentally stumbled upon a way to rapidly grow cash flow while simultaneously decreasing costs, and I want to show you how you can, too.
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In 1985, I had co-founded Timeslips Corp and within five years it had become one of the largest time tracking software companies at the time. We were doing so well that our success was starting to strangle us. Our client base was growing faster than our tech support center could support, and the rising costs of meeting our tech support demands required a continual influx of new customers that yet again swamped our already overtaxed tech support department.
It was then that I had an epiphany that changed not only the direction of our company but created a new profitability paradigm that other companies similarly drowning in their own success could leverage to grow their businesses exponentially. And it is the same paradigm that contributes to the success of companies such as Microsoft, Intuit and Salesforce.
The key is to educate and mobilize the top 2 percent to 5 percent of your customer base with high-level skills and then send them out into the world with your guidance to build their own small consulting company around your product.
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Rather than do what most coach certification programs do, which is sell a training program and a certificate, set your top clients up in an actual business, providing them the training they need, the support of a community and most importantly, with active leads they're nearly guaranteed to close on.
For example, let's say you have a software company. You train your top customers to become certified consultants, who act like a service community to your client base. Your certified customers service your client base in custom installing, training and consulting on your software. And you can reactivate dead prospects with the offer of live assistance.
There are three key components you must set in place for this to work. First of all, you must provide the lead flow to your consultants. Second, and most important, you must provide a community designed to foster relationships between your certified consultants and the company itself. The culture of the community is designed to ensure that everybody gets what he or she needs from the community and from the company. Third, you must train your consultants in total mastery of your product or service. Tony Robbins showed me how while I assisted building his own virtual training environment.
Your top 5 percent
You will need at least 200 customers to begin with, preferably more, so that your top 5 percent of your customers amounts to between 10 and 20. You must train these 10 to 20 clients on three crucial pieces -- on the product or service, on implementation and how to get others to implement, and on how to perform as professional consultants or coaches. This top 5 percent, in turn, pays you for the privilege of becoming certified and can be deputized to sell your product or service on commission. You ensure the success of this first cohort and they not only become your testimonials, but they become your community mentors.
The culture is arguably the most overlooked component of your successful certification program. Without a carefully constructed culture, there will be infighting, arguing and jockeying for position that will cause resentment in others and disharmony in the group as a whole. Having done this for over 20 years, I have created a 38-point culture code which provides guidelines for every potential situation that could possibly come up in a culture of this sort.
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The final ingredient in implementing a successful certification program is that your certified consultants obtain 100 percent comprehension of the material. If your certified consultants come out only 90 percent educated then there's going to be disastrous results in the fields. You can and you must use the tools of education to ensure that your certified consultants know 100 percent of the material on which they will be consulting.
How to get started
To begin creating a certification program, first identify the top 5 percent of your client base. Second, ensure that what you do is duplicable. You need to be able to codify your entire process to be able to train and hand off to others. Most everything can be codified. Even the virtuoso pianist who plays with incredible ease and talent wasn't born that way. She went through a series of very structured steps to get to where she is. Those steps, all those years of piano lessons and exercises, can be codified. And, once your process is codified, you can hand it off to others.
As you train consultants, provide them with leads and focus on maintaining a healthy and viable culture, your consultants, in turn, become a sales channel that continues to bring in new customers that get serviced by your own vetted and highly trained customers. Your business that was once drowning in its own success, is no longer desperately seeking new customers, but making money by selling certification and renewals to an active customer base that brings in new customers for you.
This is exactly what InfusionSoft, Intuit, Microsoft and Salesforce do, and you can, too.