EP80: Scale Your Business With The Certification Model – Mitch Russo
After a certain point, every growing company faces diminishing returns. Increasing your marketing budget, boosting conversions, or hiring more staff stops working as well as it once did. In fact, continuing to grow the way you used to only makes your company more and more efficient.
And what if you’re like me – a solopreneur who enjoys the lifestyle that comes with it? What if you don’t want to build a big company with hundreds of employees? What options do you have to grow without adding complexity?
Mitch Russo is the author of Power Tribes: How Certifiction Can Explode Your Business.
In 1985 he founded Timeslips Corp, a software company. When he sold the business to Sage Plc for 8-figures, he had built the largest network of certified consultants in the software industry.
Later, he partnered with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes to take Business Breakthroughs, Int’l from $3 million to $25 million in just 4 years.
Mitch is my guest on Experts Unleashed for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to discover as many secrets of the Certification Model as I could from the guy who basically invented it.
More From Mitch Russo
- Book – Power Tribes: How Certification Can Explode Your Business
- Podcast – Your First Thousand Clients
- Podcast – The Tribe Builders
- 45-minute Fast Track Session with Mitch – [Apply Now]
The certification model - what it is, who can use it, and the benefits of using it [3:31]
Sounds too good to be true… are there any downsides to the certification model? [15:30]
How to keep your certified consultants renewing every single year… by giving them more leads than they can handle [22:38]
Examples of great certification programs and awful ones, according to Mitch [35:00]
How to build CULTURE into your certification program… or into your company in general [39:10]
…And much more
Join our free Facebook group, Million Dollar Course Marketers.
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Mitch Russo: [00:00:00]Downside is, is that some people say, well, look, I have, I hardly have enough leads right now to support my own company. Why would I give those leads away?
Joel Erway: [00:00:15]
Hey, everybody. Welcome to another very special episode of Experts Unleashed. Joel Erway here and I am super excited.
Today, I’ve got a very special guest, a very special conversation that we are going to be having. And I am going to be selfishly treating this as a consulting session. I’ve got my, friend Mitch Russo on the call here today and Mitch and I have been in similar groups for a few years ago, a few years now I was on one of his podcasts a couple of years ago.
And so we’ve been, we’ve been acquaintances. I purchased his book called Power Tribes. I’ve read it. And I’m very excited to kind of dive into it. I wanted to have him on the show because his expertise is very unique, yet very applicable for a lot of people, if they think about their business in a different sense.
And so the goal of this conversation here today is I want you to be thinking about ways that you can look at new opportunities within your business. Now, Mitch is an expert in certification. Building certification programs, and without revealing too much, I’m going to have him come on and we’re going to, we’re going to have a conversation about certifications, but without further ado, Mitch, welcome to the show my man.
Mitch Russo: [00:01:37]
Thank you so much, Joel. Great to stay connected and thrilled to be on the show with you.
Joel Erway: [00:01:44]
Why don’t you give a quick background for those who aren’t familiar with you haven’t read your book, you know, give us a quick, a quick intro about who you are, what you do and we’ll kick this off.
Mitch Russo: [00:01:54]
Sure. I’ll give you the speed intro and then we can go further if you want.
I basically started a rock band in high school. I learned a lot about business by doing that business promotion pricing quality testimonials, all in high school. And then later I started a software company and I used many of the rock band CEO tools that I used back then to build that company.
That was time slips corporation. We grew it to about, uh, well over a hundred people, a quarter million clients. And we sold that to Sage PLC for a figures. It was there that I discovered and perfected the certification process. And later after I sold the company, I teamed up with my buddy Chad Holmes, and the two of us basically went to work with Tony Robbins.
And so Tony, Chad and I became partners and built a company tethered together called business breakthroughs international. And we grew that to 30 million in revenue. And then unfortunately Chad passed away after Chad passed away, I wrapped up my role in business breakthroughs. And I went on to write the book that we talked about today.
And that in a nutshell is my quick intro.
Joel Erway: [00:03:15]
And so the book that you’re talking about is power tribes, right? A certification can explode your business.
Mitch Russo: [00:03:20]
Joel Erway: [00:03:23]
Let’s talk about what certification is. We’ll start there in terms of like What companies can use certifications, who is best suited for certifications. And give us a quick background about what certification actually is and what type of opportunity it presents for, for business owners.
Mitch Russo: [00:03:40]
So, certification is kind of like a spectrum of possibilities. There are people who offer certification, like coach certification, where you spend a certain amount of money.
You enroll in a training program and at the end of the program, they may or may not be a test. If you pass the test, you get a certificate and you can hang it on your wall. And you just paid somewhere between two and five. And in some cases as much as $18,000 for that certification but you are at that point on your own, maybe included in a Facebook group, or you might get onto an email list by someone who’s at the company.
But for the most part that’s what has traditionally been called certification? So when I first built the certification program for time slips, when we decided that we were going to go along that route, we discovered that in order to help people be successful, that wasn’t enough. I mean, it was fine to make some money selling a test basically, but the true value is to how do we get people to be successful?
So they’ll stay engaged, number one, and here’s the best part. So next year they’ll recertify. So then we started figuring out, well, okay, what does that take? And what are the components and the pieces and what else will they spend money on other than recertification? And it became you. We, we are able to build a program very rapidly.
With an incredible value proposition, 350 people joined our program in 18 months. And they, every, we had like a 97% recertification rate. I think a few people did pass away. So they, for some reason didn’t want to recertify. I, you know, I don’t see that as a good excuse, but okay. You know but, but ultimately the reason that people wanted to recertify was because of the R O I, and there’s the key.
When other people create certification, like when we built it with Intuit, Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit saw what I was doing and say, Hey Mitch, what the heck are you doing? How did you do that? You’re like all over the country, you have like local offices all over the country. How did you do that? And I said, well, Scott, I’ll tell you what, I’ll show you how I did it.
If you help me build the link between time slips and QuickBooks. And he says, well, I can’t promise, but you know me, I’ll, I’ll help you. Don’t worry. So, bottom line is that I helped him build the certified advisor program, the Intuit certified advisor program, which grew in into thousands and thousands, dozens of members generated over $600 million.
And he eventually did help me get that link to QuickBooks, which again, exploded the sales of the company into his channel. So it was a great trade at the time. And I really needed it to make sure competitively that I was ahead of the others in my field. But the most important thing is the part that he, he liked the most.
And the part that I think we were able to get translated well, is this concept of culture. So we have the business proposition, which is by certification and we will help you be successful by feeding you leads. Every week we would, when I work with a client, we actually literally engage a CRM system to feed leads directly to our certified coaches, partners, consultants, whatever we call them.
But, but, and by the way, that’s great because now these folks are going to make money. Some of them can make six figures with two or three engagements. That we bring them and others you know, can stay busy all year long just on the leads that we provide. So the ROI is pretty good. Once a year, we ask them to pay to travel.
Although obviously right now travel is not an issue but we’d ask them to come in for a symposium. And so we bring no meant to, in this case, it was Massachusetts where I was living at the time we brought everyone into Massachusetts. We showed them a great time for days. We taught them a lot of good stuff, but amazingly after they went home, we noticed activity went up by 30% and stayed up by over 20%, six months later.
So the symposiums were serve several purposes gay. They were there, there to teach people good stuff that they could use, but let’s go back to the culture thing again, because that’s really what makes a difference.
Joel Erway: [00:08:24]
So with certification where a company would have the opportunity. So let me, let me, um, use my agency as an example, right?
So we run the webinar agency. We build lead generation and sales platforms for coaches, consultants, and course creators. Excuse me. I’ve had people reach out to me and say, I want to start my own webinar agency. I’m like, okay, that’s fine. So like I teach him, right. Is that the whole idea, is essentially replicating your own IP, like teaching them your IP so they can go out and implement it on their own?
Mitch Russo: [00:09:10]
That’s secondary. The first primary thing that we must do is build the business model together. So when I work with the client, what we’re doing is we’re spending the first several hours of our engagement together, figuring out and creating the business model.
And what I mean by that is we don’t want to teach everybody who wants to know exactly what we do, how we do it. And then create a world of competitors that doesn’t help us. More importantly, what we want to do is find a way to use this incredible expertise that we’ve created, teach it to others, and then share in the revenue that they generate that serves them.
And it serves us. So what’s important here is not just heck I’ll teach you how to do it. You could pay me 10 grand and learn how then you can go off and do it on your own. That doesn’t help you. 10 grand is not gonna, you know, I’ll keep you happy very long. I mean, certainly it’s, it’s great for, you know, off the cuff finding you wouldn’t pass $10,000.
I was on the street if you saw it. But ultimately what you want to do is build as a sustainable business around this process of teaching people, what you do, helping them get engagements, then sharing and the revenue that is generated from the engagement that others do. So it’s like a multiplication effect of both your intellect, intellectual property and efforts.
Joel Erway: [00:10:36]
So with your example, which is, you know, you pay X number of thousands of dollars per year to stay certified. They also have to share in the revenues that they’re generating. So you split the revenue that they’re making.
Mitch Russo: [00:10:49]
Joel Erway: [00:10:50]
So there’s multiple ways that you’re actually generating income?
Mitch Russo: [00:10:53]
Well, many ways actually there’s up is depending on the client, that could be up to eight ways. I’ve found up to eight ways. Wouldn’t surprise me if there’s more, but in general we find three to five ways to create recurring revenue streams for every client that I work with. Like, for example, when we build Josh Turner’s certification program for linked selling, um, he did.
Exactly what I just told you. He had created a network of, of certified consultants that whatever they charged, he received a percentage of, and he found that it was higher profit margins than having an agency of his own. Do all the work that frankly they were too busy to do. And the profit margins were so low.
It was very hard to expand the agency, but once he employed the certification model, It changed his entire universe. It changed the world for him.
Joel Erway: [00:11:50]
His responsibility as the lead for the certification, as the certifier, then what’s his primary responsibility. Is it to generate leads for these people or is it only education and advisement for them in training?
Mitch Russo: [00:12:05]
If I had to break it down into buckets, like you just said, it would be education, it would be lead flow, and it would be community.
Joel Erway: [00:12:17]
Got it. So you have to be able to, you have to be able to at least generate the leads like that has to be one of the requisites. Correct?
Mitch Russo: [00:12:24]
You already have the leads, but yes, you have to be able to generate the leads. That’s correct.
Joel Erway: [00:12:29]
Got it. Got it. So in the, um, so this is always fascinating to me because I have, like, I personally have a bucket of people in my audience who are desperately trying to be a webinar consultant or a webinar pro and you know, they’re joining my programs and they just want to pick my brain.
They want to learn how my brain operates and we still run our agency on its own. So if I were to kind of, and I think if you’re listening right now, like, Who else does this work or does this, can any business do a certification model or does this really lend itself only to certain types of businesses?
That’s the main question that I’ve got right now.
Mitch Russo: [00:13:12]
Sure. It’s surprising me. How many businesses this works with and lends itself to my primary target market when I originally started. With SAS companies, software companies, because frankly that’s where I was. That’s what I did. But since then, I’ve worked with coaching consulting, training companies.
I’ve worked with real estate education companies. We, we just finished a program for black card up in Canada. My most recent client is a guy who had his $20 million company. He has people in different cities that do auctions on behalf of those who are downsizing. I mean, that was a new world for me.
I didn’t realize that that existed even. And yet here he is. And he attended one of my sessions with me and said, this is exactly what we’re looking for. We never found a way to articulate it or, or a business model that made sense until. Until you showed us what you do and he signed right up.
And now we’re, we’re in the process where we’re deep into it. We’re about to, I believe we’re going to be launching it by the end of August.
Joel Erway: [00:14:20]
Nice. So, this seems like a no brainers me. Like, it seems like such a huge, especially for people in the service space niche, right? Because you’ve, this is, this presents a whole new way for them to scale their service-based company that they may not have even thought of before.
Like, especially for digital marketing agencies who, you know, the small time entrepreneurs that run these digital marketing agencies that are successful, right. They’re running a high six or multi seven figure business, but they hit a ceiling where like, you know, the only way for me to grow is to just hire on more employees and just keep growing, keep growing the team as we generate more leads.
But this opens up a new world where you could scale your IP by packaging this into some sort of training and certifying other people on how to do this. Right. I mean, what am I missing here? Are there any downsides to certification and is there any downside to certification?
Mitch Russo: [00:15:30]
Well, let’s get a little more granular because I want to make sure that we cover the specifics of this. So the downside is, is that some people say, well, look, I have, I hardly have enough leads right now to support my own company. Why would I give those leads away to my certified partners? So that is what I, I encountered that question a lot.
And it’s simply a shift in thinking that will open your eyes to why that is irrelevant. So let’s start with something that is in common with most companies. If I asked you the size of your list, and I asked you, I’m talking about your prospect list right now. And then I said to you, how, what is the size of your customer list?
For most people, it would be about 5%. So it would be five to 10% of the number of prospects are customers, could be less. So what do we do with the 95% who never bought and why didn’t they buy? Well, they didn’t buy because in some cases, timing, another case is price. And, but in most cases it’s because they didn’t have the confidence that the money they’d spend would eventually pay off.
So, what we then do is take those leads that we have as prospects. And we distribute them initially to our brand new certified partners, certified consultants. And we say to them, look, we’re going to be putting them in a CRM system and you have 72 hours to reach out to those people. And here’s your value proposition.
I know you spoke to Joel before about working with him to build your webinar, and you did not take advantage of that. I am going to be offering you one on one support. If you decide now to make the move and go forward, here’s the price. And I will include my time and help you for free for three private sessions.
That should be enough to get you off the ground, but we need to go further. We can do that too. Now what you’ve done is changed the value proposition for your existing prospects. Now they’re going to say, well, well, geez. I guess if I have somebody I could work with personally one-on-one and trained by bull, by all means I should take it back.
So you’re now going to utilize your prospects before that you couldn’t sell with your new certified consultants and you’re going to be sharing in the revenue. That you generate. Now, this is all based on what you took your certified consultants through in their training. You’ve got to teach them all the stuff that you need to do, but just because they graduated your program doesn’t mean they can actually do what you do.
So there’ll be a period of time with your pilot class, where you’re going to have to walk them through, even hold their hand, even do the work for them in certain cases to ensure that their clients are successful. Now that’s a downside. If you say, well, Mitch, I already am booked completely. I have no time.
I could barely breathe right now. I get that. If this isn’t something that you feel like you can commit you, like, for example, if you can’t commit to making your certified consultants successful, please do not do this program because if you screw up this one piece, it will kill the entire program. But if you don’t and if you make that initial group, that small group of let’s say 10 people in the pilot program succeed, you will now have testimonials that are through the roof, then you’ll be able to start building your program.
Pretty much on a quarterly basis with quarterly classes from now until forever. Now let me answer the second objection, which I voiced first, which is Mitch. I hardly have enough prospects right now if you and we do this together, like I employ. And I think Joel, you’ve seen the spreadsheet that I use. I have a proprietary system where we map out on a monthly basis.
Exactly what your expenses are every month, once you start building your certified consultant program. And one of the things that we do is allocate about 15% of our enrollment fee towards lead generation. So if we’re charging 15 or $20,000 for certification, then yeah, we absolutely understand that we have somewhere between a thousand and $2,000.
To market for every individual certified consultants. So if you had a hundred people in the program and you were generating an extra couple of hundred thousand set aside for marketing that you could use for Facebook, as you think you can provide them with enough leads, once they run through your existing prospect base.
Good. That’s what you need. So now, and by the way, what’s happening here, let’s take a, let’s take a quick look at what’s happening here. So now you’re feeding the screen. Let’s call it a hundred people because it’s easily a hundred by the end of the year. If you have a big enough value proposition.
And now you’re feeding those hundred people. You’re keeping them happy. They’re making money, but you’re making money alongside of them every single time they make money. Number one. So you’re growing your own company. Number two, the marketing is basically free because it’s coming from the enrollments that they’re paying.
Number three, you have a profit center. That’s going to generate somewhere between 50 and 65% profit to you, which is coming from certification itself. So remember I mentioned that when we built this back in the 1980s, we generated an extra million dollars in profits just in year one. Well, now the numbers have changed.
We have this thing called the internet. It worked great. We can do things a lot faster, a lot more efficiently. Those profits go through the roof. So the downside is EA you need prospects B you need time. C you must have a. Intellectual property that evolves. So like, let’s say you had a, you were certifying somebody on how to cook a Turkey.
Well, after they learn how to cook a Turkey next year, they’re not going to come back and learn how to cook a Turkey again. Yep. So you need to have a system that, that evolves that you, as the leader. Of this program evolve over time. Like with software every year we had new features, new ways of using the product and, and most of my clients are finding ways to evolve their program.
In fact, this is a motivator for them to evolve their program so that they are staying ahead of the curve as well. Makes sense?
Joel Erway: [00:22:08]
Yeah. A hundred percent out of curiosity, you know, how many leads per month do you need? Normally, I know this is going to differ by market to market, but like, is there a general rule of thumb for how many leads per month that you need to provide each one of these certified consultants?
Like, are they happy with like five leads a month? Do they 10 leads a month? I know it’s probably gonna determine on how many they actually convert into customers, right?
Is there a rough rule of thumb?
Mitch Russo: [00:22:39]
Yeah. So, so depending on the pricing of your services, in other words, if you have a really low cost service, then five leads in a month, isn’t going to be enough.
If you have a, you know, if you haven’t a nicely priced $5,000 service, $10,000 service. Five leads a month is going to be fantastic. Now, if you read the book, you may remember this. One of the things that we recommend in the power tribe’s book is that if you hear from certain people that they’re still not enough leads coming through, you create something that we call the co op program.
And this is how the co op program works. You send out a message to all your certified consultants and you say, Hey guys, some of you have come back to us and said that you’re not really getting enough leads and you want more leads. Maybe you built your company, made it. Maybe you’ve added staff. Well, we have a way here to help you.
And what we do is we’re going to take everybody who joins the call program and pulled the money, going to buy leads for you using our buying power and our expertise. And we’re going to round robin, distribute them to everybody who is part of the co op plan. Okay. Now all you’re doing is you’re collecting two, 300.
Also everybody program. And just as I said, you pull that money. You buy leads, you distributed to everybody. Everybody’s super thrilled and they’re getting as many leads as basically as they want naked by shares. So, you know, let’s say you say that everybody needs to put in $365. However, if you want two shares, you double that amount and some people do.
So that’s how you solve the lead problem. If that really is a problem.
Joel Erway: [00:24:21]
Oh, isn’t that kind of like double-dipping because they’re joining your certification program with the promise of leads already. Right? Now later they’re saying we have to pay more for more leads.
Mitch Russo: [00:24:34]
You don’t know, you don’t have to do that.
It’s if you hear from you, your scenario was, you know, if I hear from my own people that we’re not giving them enough leads, then you say, great. Well, we have a way to help you get more leads. Now, of course, I didn’t say that you couldn’t spend more of the profits from the program to generate more leads.
You may need next year to raise the price of certification. If you’re seeing that, you know what, we’re simply not getting enough revenue in to generate the kind of lead flow that we want. Now, our programs, by the way, Uh, generally are in the 65% profit range and that’s fully loaded. So you should have plenty of room to spend a little extra if you want in those first few years of lead generation.
Joel Erway: [00:25:19] Yep. Okay, cool. Now, when you are generating the leads for these clients, with the intention that they’re going to be distributed to the certification program when you’re generating those leads, do you have to, is there a preferred, do you have to frame it properly from the actual customer perspective saying like, Hey, um, if you’re looking to get a webinar built or, you know, looking for a lead generation system you know, submit your name and email and, and work with our certified, like, I want to make sure I’m asking the question properly.
Am I just using my standard lead generation system where it’s, Hey, work with me and my team? And then on the backend, we say, listen, we’re not available to work with our certified consultants or like, where does that handoff?
Mitch Russo: [00:26:16]
Well, well, yeah, you need to, you need to present this in a fair and honest way and you need to be completely upfront with people.
I have one client who, who advertises that, you know, work with my team. That’s all they say, work with us, and work with my team. And we’ll get you, in your case, we’ll get your webinar built and designed properly and you know, again, I don’t know how much effort this would take, particularly in the beginning.
Probably not too much, but you can, as an added bonus, you could say, and anybody who chooses to work with us in the month of March, I will personally review your plan before our team puts it in action for you. So there’s that level of you know, the expert, the, the master, the expert, the holder of the IP, basically making, looking over their shoulder, which by the way, In the beginning, you’re going to do that anyway.
So it’s sort of like tell the beer customer, the quality of the hops that you use to brew the beer. It’s the same idea you’re doing. You’re saying what you do because you’re going to do it anyway.
Joel Erway: [00:27:23]
Yep. Okay. So the actual lead generation has to, you know, is framing it. So they’re expecting it to come from the team. Okay, cool.
Mitch Russo: [00:27:36] Yup.
Joel Erway: [00:27:38]
Now, what about the price of the offer? Is that something that you set as the leader or you let the leads kind of pitch whatever they want?
Mitch Russo: [00:27:52]
Well, we experimented with this in several different cases. What we have found is that when we bring on people, To be certified is that one of the things we learned the hard way is that they’re not salespeople.
If they were salespeople, they’d be selling. There are certified coaches, there are certified consultants, they’re certified partners, but they’re generally not there. As experts in selling that’s our job. So what we do is we build the landing pages and the sales pages in advance for them. We create a portal for every individual certified consultants.
We give them their own website. We give them their own backend portal, where they can, where they can see their leads and use. A CRM system, we provide to automatically follow up and do things like that. And we also give them a page that they could distribute that when they offer their services, they send out this page, that’s branded for them.
And now when the client says yes to Bob. Bob will get noticed that someone just paid $2,000 for their startup program now because you’re the one administering this you could choose. And again, we’ve had to go both ways. You could choose to basically collect all the money and then pay Bob, or you can have Bob collect the money and pay you.
It’s up to you. I like collecting the money myself but you can do anything you want. In another situation, we told a certified consultant that basically that we need X thousand dollars per year. And if you’re, as long as you’re willing to pay us that you could charge anything you want. We had another client say we engineered a message that said, look, we think you can get a little, a little, at least $5,000.
Just remember you’re still paying us 50% of whatever it is your charge. But if you charge $10,000, we’re totally fine with that. But just keep in mind that you’re still paying us 50%. So is there different ways to look at it and different ways to do it.
Joel Erway: [00:29:59]
Is that profit share of the revenue share is 50%?
Mitch Russo: [00:30:05]
You know, interestingly enough, I like 50 50, because it seems basically fair, but I’ve had clients use as 70 30, where the company keeps 70 and the consultant gets 30 and the justification was they’re getting paid far more than they ever would have if we had just hired them at 25 or even $50 or even a hundred dollars an hour.
And so I think it’s up to the person and their audience. I like 50, 50. I think there’s plenty to go around. I’m of the abundance mindset when it comes to things like this, I share as much as possible.
Joel Erway: [00:30:42]
Yup. Yeah. I think that seems fair. I mean, you’re, you’re teaching them the business model. You’re giving them the business in a box per se.
You’re holding the hand, holding their hand on fulfillment. You’re giving them the leads, showing them how to sell it. That makes total sense. Makes total sense.
Mitch Russo: [00:30:59]
Remember you’re also putting in place some elements here. That if they decide later, they don’t want to quote-unquote recertify, it’s going to be impossible for them to do business.
So that’s why, why I’m saying, you know, with Josh Turner, what we did we did is we built a backend called the console where when you’re certified, you log into your console and you have a whole set of tools that you use for client engagement that you couldn’t possibly have access to unless you were working with the company.
So our goal is to try and create this environment where you might in a negative way see it as them being trapped, but in a positive way is where enhancing their ability to do their job more efficiently with a higher level of quality.
Joel Erway: [00:31:44]
That sounds like it’s complex in the backend, like all the portals and whatnot, I’m sure you probably have your own system that is built out that’s easily replicable but do people get tripped up on that? Like, do people who want to launch their own certification program? I mean, that sounds like it’s gotta be, that sounds like it’s a lot of like, it, it can get, I mean, it can get pretty confusing and then it sounds like it has to be pretty, pretty techie.
I mean, you did this before kind of the boom of the internet, but I mean, you know, what goes into the portals and that element. Yup.
Mitch Russo: [00:32:20]
It’s actually simpler than, than maybe even it sounds so on your website today, you would add a top-level menu item called login.
And that would be for your certified coaches. So the coach logs in, and let’s assume it’s word perfect for the moment. At that point, they’re presented with a page and it’s, it’s a single, it’s not a post it’s a page. And on that page, there’s a link to the Zoho CRM, and they put in the credentials that you give them to Zoho CRM, and now they’re into their CRM system.
Now, if they click out of that and go back to their page, there’s another link that says sales page. Now, this is where they either fill it out with the credit card information, or they can send a link to a customer. That’s their page. The tools are links on their page on the inside of a WordPress website.
It’s very simple to do. And I’ve had clients basically say, no, we don’t want to do any of that stuff. That’s fine. If you just want to basically distribute names to people and leave them on their own, the downside is, is that they won’t have as much success without the tools. They won’t like we had rules set up in the CRM system and me.
Yeah, I use Zoho because Zoho has a certain set of rules that I like. And I have a Zoho consultant who works very inexpensively for my clients. So the way these Zoho platforms are constructed is that it’s a certified partner login, and there are their leads. They have 72 hours to respond to those leads.
And if they don’t, those leads are move to somebody else. Now what’s interesting is what’s in, there are all the communications ready to go. So. You’ve prebuilt all the sales letters, you’ve set up the timing for them. All they have to do is connect with the individual and say, I just wanna let you know, we got your inquiry.
I hope you got your free report. Happy to chat with you anytime you’re ready. And then over the course of the next two or three weeks, they’re going to receive a series of timed emails. Each one of them being, has a Lincoln where they can respond to work with your certified coach. And by the way, it’s not a big deal, but you can call them certified coaches, certified partners, certified console, whatever you want.
Joel Erway: [00:34:58]
What are some of the biggest certified programs that you’ve seen out there? Some that you’ve worked with and some that you haven’t worked with? Like, just like I see certifications now all the time cause I got my glasses on. I got my sort of equation glasses on. So like I’m, I’m actively trying to look and see what they look and see what they’re doing. And, cause it’s something that I am going to launch.
It’s just a matter of when. We’ve got a book coming out. So my book is going to be an excellent lead generation tool for the certified partners. So. Um, yeah, so like, what are some of the biggest ones out there that you see?
Mitch Russo: [00:35:37]
Right. So, um, probably I’ll give you some examples of good and bad ones.
Probably the biggest and worst one I know of is the former infusion soft. And I think it’s called keep now. So infusion soft was a tiny little $6 million company out of Phoenix some years ago. And they had a very powerful software platform that was nearly impossible to use.
Joel Erway: [00:36:04]
Mitch Russo: [00:36:06]
Confusion soft. So what they did is they trained up a bunch of people just out of desperation to help their clients. That’s when it dawned upon somebody, wait a minute, why don’t we kind of make these people salespeople and maybe even charge them two for the training. So that was the beginning of this certification program.
In most cases, I can’t say this categorically, cause I don’t want to disparage them. But in most cases, the people I’ve spoken to who are in that program are, are not happy. They feel as if they are not getting support from the company. They’re certainly not getting lead flow. They are not treated as valuable as, as they should be.
They’re not treated with the value that they truly are. Because without them, they would have never been able to build a $500 million company as they have. I mean, certification is, would put them on the map. That’s what took them from 6 million to a hundred million and, and, and further. So that was not a good program.
And I don’t believe that it’s, you know, I mean, I’ve been here in touch with the people at the top of the keep to offer my services. And, you know, it’s, it’s like speaking to the refrigerator door, nobody gets back to me, even though they have my book, several of them do. So, I mean, I’m sometimes just happy to see somebody use the book.
You know, it’s fine with me. If that’s at least make your program better for the people that are in it, you know, the other thing, Oh, one more program that I really admire and that’s Intuit’s program. I think Intuit’s program is fantastic. And Intuit has a great model because they offer their certified advisors, multiple ways of making money, which I advise for all my clients.
So and then there are different types of certification, you know, Microsoft, even digital marketers certifications. You know, if you remember digital marketers started selling certification for a thousand dollars, then it went down to $500. Then it went down to $97. Now, the reason it did that is that there was no nothing else, nothing more than a test.
And a course, in a test, and, you know, if you asked the 10,000 people who bought their certifications, how many of them are being used or how many of them have been used? The answer is very, very low, very small. So the idea is that you don’t want to abandon people. You don’t want to sell them a test. I mean, if that’s what you set out to do and, you know, in advance that that’s all they’re going to buy, then that’s fine.
But the other thing that a lot of companies are struggling with is they’re struggling with lumpy cash flow. They’re struggling to play with having had a hit product some years ago. And it’s getting a little long in the tooth, but at the same time, you know, they don’t really have the funding to go and create a whole new market, a whole new product swear certification can take what they already have and turn it into an incredible new business division for them.
So, there’s another thing we didn’t talk about yet. Joel, I don’t know if you want to get into it or not. And that’s the culture behind your program. Is that something you want to talk about?
Joel Erway: [00:39:11]
A hundred percent. I’m big on culture right now, a huge, like I’m diving deep into customer satisfaction, customer loyalty. Absolutely. A hundred percent.
Mitch Russo: [00:39:19]
Well, when I want to talk about today is, is installing a culture in a certification community. And that’s why the book is called power tribes. It’s as much about the culture as it is about the moneymaking business model that we implement. The culture is what I’ve done is I’ve, first of all, I built company-wide cultures.
All of my adult life. I built them for business breakthroughs with Tony Robbins and with his help is obviously, and I built them for my own software company. I built them for Sage, the company that acquired me as well. So here’s what I’ve done is I’ve, I’ve basically created a process that builds culture.
I’ve created a system of thinking about how to build a culture that is. Guaranteed to create the culture you want. And it starts with a simple idea. And I think it’s called the Parthenon model. I think Jay Abraham talks a little bit about this, but it’s different than what he, he does. The Parthenon is a physical structure with a roof in columns.
So the roof is the values of the program and the values of the program are generally the values of the CEO. So it is the why of the CEO. It is what the CEO values about his people and about the company. The columns of the Parthenon are the ethics, the codes that makeup. The rule set for what you can do inside the Parthenon.
So there’s the code of ethics and the code of values and the values you started with that. And then from there, we take the values and we overlay them on the code of ethics. Now I give all of my clients the entire code of ethics system, which I’ve perfected over 25 years. And what they then do is connect the dots to make it very personalized for them.
Even before we enroll our first person, we have a culture that is already in place that they, uh, as part of their certification training, they are trained in how to act and respond inside the cultural environment that we’ve created. Now without this, you will fail. There will be entropy. There will be backfiring.
There will be infighting. There will be up and down fighting without culture. You will have a revolt and people will leave. And in fact, You’ll end up with lawsuits. Trust me, I did all this. I ended up with the lawsuits. This is not the way to do it. You have to use the correct tools to create the culture or else you find yourself in a place where you just don’t want to be.
Joel Erway: [00:42:06]
Hmm, that’s fascinating. I mean, culture is so strong. Tribes are so strong. If done correctly. And now there are so many people out there who sell customers and you mentioned it before and you just let them die. You know, it’s like, you know, they’re, you, you, you sell them on a, whatever it is, and then you just no longer support them.
And, I’m reading a book, right. I just finished up a book. Joey Coleman’s book when a customer for life or the first hundred days of a customer journey is essentially like how to develop them into a loyal customer, oh, how to never lose a customer again. That’s what it’s called.
And you know, it’s something that I can definitely improve on as something that is my primary focus was just one of the reasons why I’m so interested in certifications. So we’re building our own tribe. We’re building our own community, our own culture with our coaching programs right now.
But the next stage for us is to do certifications just because people have literally been asking for it. And, you’re a hundred percent, right. You’re a hundred percent right. Tribes and culture are extremely important, extremely important.
Mitch Russo: [00:43:24]
So the goal of the tribe is to be self-supporting self-policing, and self-sustaining, if you have those three components to your tribe, then you have a great tribe and it will never fail.
And I have built tribes of that quality where a single individual gets out of line. And makes a ruckus makes a fuss, does something really abusive or abrasive? And in the past, I would have to step in and solve the problem. Now I don’t. Now the culture does it. Now, the people in the culture say, wait a minute.
That’s not how we run here. It’s not appropriate. Maybe, this isn’t the right place for you. Maybe you don’t belong here. And that person either corrects or leaves. That’s what a great culture does.
Joel Erway: [00:44:16]
Is there ever a fine line between culture and a cult because I have watched a bunch of groups out there.
They have very strong cultures, and then you have the outsiders who are looking on the inside and like, that’s definitely a cult and they throw stones in it and they throw stones in it. How do you know when you’ve developed such a strong culture that it could be viewed as a call? Have you ever, like, I don’t know, I’m just kind of.
Picking your brain right now on the idea of culture and, and quote-unquote cults mean, has that ever, has have you ever accidentally developed a cult because your culture is so strong?
Mitch Russo: [00:44:58]
I wish I have because that’s how, you know, you never have to worry about selling into it again. The fact is, is that when we build cultures, we start out with the premise that this is a business.
We don’t start out with a philosophy of I’m. I know how to talk to God. And if you follow me, I’ll tell you what God says. I mean, you could do that, Joel, I can’t, but you know
Joel Erway: [00:45:23]
Nope. Not doing that.
Mitch Russo: [00:45:26]
Uh, the point is though, is that when you build a business community, you want loyalty. You, you, you certainly want it to be self-policing and self-correcting.
And self-fulfilling and self-nourishing too, but it’s generally not dependent on, you know, single person. That’s what the values are for the values, the tone that’s the rule. The values are what everybody lives under. And those values are timeless and many cases. They’re the values that your members will adopt and hold valuable and sacred.
If you want to use that word as well. You know, like one of the things that Tony Robbins and I had in common is that when I built my software company, we had this program that was called the ambassador program, and here’s how it worked. If there was ever a customer who bought our software and called up and they were angry or disgruntled and wanted their money back.
We had them connect to a particular employee in the company. His name was there’s Alan singer. And this is when customer service just could not handle this customer. They were irate. They wanted their money back. They wanted to Sue us they’d blah, blah, blah. So the role was is if you get somebody like that, just connect them over immediately to Alan singer and Alan will take care of it.
So here’s what Alan would do. Alan would say, first of all, tell me what happened. I want to acknowledge that what happened to you is not right. And I want to apologize on behalf of the company that we obviously didn’t do something right. And you are completely right. So I’d like to refund all of your minds, right?
I’d like you to keep the product. Okay. And I don’t want it. I want you to have all upgrades for the rest of your life for free. And I want to, give you and assign you to a technical support person that you don’t have to wait online anymore. You can call directly. Would that be okay with you if we did that?
And of course, the person would then say, ah, well, geez, I would love to. Yes, of course. And now what happens is we’ve converted this customer who was I angry, I rate into an ambassador is now going to all of their user groups or there they’ll in this case to the bar association technology groups saying things like well, you’re not going to believe this experience I just had with time slips corporation.
It was just amazing. So when I described this experience to Tony, He says exactly. That’s what we do too. So check it out like that, by the way, Chad said, no, we never give refunds. I said, Chad, that’s not how I roll. We always give refunds.
We don’t even ask to receive the product back to them to give refunds, by the way. Yeah, the singer was me. So I was, I was this, the employee in the skies. I was never the president of the Trousseau. I was a Ellen singer.
Joel Erway: [00:48:18]
Ah, man, that’s amazing. My mind is spinning again. My mind is spinning with the opportunity and excitement because we’ve just had the demand pounding at the door for years now. I’ve had people like begged me to pay me, to teach them my ways. And as we’re evolving as an agency and like where we want to go and yeah. We don’t want to grow a huge team of like, just churning out these, turning out these, these projects.
And, and, but we also want to have a dedicated, we want to maintain quality and make sure that we are doing this in the right way. I see this as just an amazing opportunity. Amazing, amazing journeys. Is Josh still running his certification program?
Mitch Russo: [00:49:08]
No, he’s not running it anymore. He changed his business model completely around that.
Joel Erway: [00:49:15]
Cool. Awesome. Well, so, you know, let’s talk about what you’re doing right now. So, you know, you said, we talked before, you’ve got some, some new things that you, you’re launching let’s, let’s spend a little bit of time talking about that.
Mitch Russo: [00:49:31]
Sure, sure. So I’m always working with clients on certification, but I also work with clients individually to grow their business. I have a thing it’s called the accelerator. And it’s a two-month program, which anybody with a business can join. And it’s pretty much guaranteed that we compress a year of progress into two months.
And, and by the end of two months, you’re at a much different place in your business. But I always like to bring in new leads. So over, over the COVID quarantine, I was a little bit bored. So I decided to sit down and write an entire program marketing and I’m offering it for a very, very tiny amount of money.
It’s actually free for the first three lessons and then in a tiny $2 to go forward. And what you basically get are, are all the marketing ideas that I use when I work one on one with clients. Now, obviously you’re not going to get the implementation, but you’ll see all the ideas and you’ll see all the questions that I ask when I take people through.
And that’s, I think as a great way to help people get familiar with who I am, what I do, and potentially some of those will convert into coaching clients.
Joel Erway: [00:50:42]
And so where can we find that?
Mitch Russo: [00:50:45]
Joel Erway: [00:50:49]
Perfect. profitstackingsecrets.com. And your book is called Power Tribes. It’s a great book. I think I read it two years ago, maybe a year ago. This is a long trial. That certification has been on my mind. It’s been, it’s been a long time. Okay. And I’ve recommended it. I’ve recommended it on my podcast and recommended it to their other people in clients as well that we’re considering doing certification, as I said, I don’t really know much about it, but there’s a book that you can, you can definitely check out.
Here’s what you should, here’s what you should read. So, was there anything that we left out that you wanted to cover Mitch that we, that we didn’t?
Mitch Russo: [00:51:24]
Well, I’d like to, if I could, you know, I think the question comes up in most people’s minds.
Well, how much can I charge for certification now? I sent you a video where I take somebody through an entire planning session. Do you remember that video? Did you see it?
Joel Erway: [00:51:40]
I don’t know.
Mitch Russo: [00:51:42]
Okay. I’ll have, I’ll resend it to you. Okay. Here’s the bottom line. It’s a very straightforward way of thinking. So the goal is, is that whatever we charge the goal is that the person who pays the money must receive a minimum of 3X, but on average, 3X to 10X of what they paid for certification.
So if they pay 25K if they’re not going to get 75K back. Then they’re not going to recertify next year. So we start with that. We say, okay, now we understand it. A 3X, 10X piece of this. What is, how can somebody make money? How much would they make on engagement with us? I’m talking about only there, 50% of the share of the other products.
Do we have Dell and make a commission on. There are all the things that they can do to put the company that they could use to make. And that’s how we come up with pricing models. So let’s say. And I’ll go back to Josh because you know him when, um, when we first did this, we looked at this and said, well, we’re having sakes most of our folks could probably make a 100K in the first year.
And I said, well, that’s amazing, but you don’t want to charge a 100K for certification. Let’s pick a number, another number. So we had, I had seen just at that point that I felt like 5k for certification would be fair. Because that’s easily 3X and probably for some, it will be more for some, it will be less but 25 K is good.
And then the other thing that we do is when we launch, we always launched the first class with a discount. So it’s a pilot program. We explain it’s a pilot. The price is going to be lower only for the pilot, but the amount of attention you get is going to be higher. Because we’ll have, we’ll still be working out the bugs in the training program and in the systems.
So if you’ll bear with us and be willing to go through that as a pilot participant, you’ll pay less, get more attention. So in that case, if you’re going to charge 25, you might charge 20 for the pilot. Now, if you get 10 people, that’s easy math to get 20 people into your pilot. That’s $400,000. Now you have enough money to do everything you want, including pay for my services to help you get there.
It’s all part of the equation. It’s really just math at that point. Now you have ample profits from just one lunch. To pay for the entire program very much for the rest of your life. And our goal is to have quarterly launches and each launch can be bigger and bigger. Now, remember the first, this launch always comes from our customer base because they’re the ones who know us best.
But once we have the testimonials from the customer base, at that point, we can launch this as a business opportunity to RA public and have them go through the training and do exactly what everybody else does. Now we have no limits on the size of the audience that we can approach. So that’s the only last thing I wanted to cover.
Joel Erway: [00:54:48]
Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. I mean, it’s, it’s a big opportunity. There is no doubt about it. And It’s new, it’s an, a unique way for a company to scale without having to go and just generate more leads for themselves. It allows them to scale it in a different fashion, building a tribe of ambassadors.
And. Yeah. I mean, in reality, that like, wouldn’t it make sense to have a lower price for the certification if you’re making money on the backend as well. So wouldn’t, you want to get as many people into certification cause you’re making it also make money on the, on the sale as well. So it’s, you know, I dunno, it just that’s, that’s going through my mind.
I mean, in terms of pricing model, mate. Yep. What’s your opinion on that?
Mitch Russo: [00:55:37]
I don’t, my belief is that, you know, if you want people in, you want them to be all in. And so my belief is that, you know, if, if you’re going to provide a set of benefits that are essential, then why would you take some of those benefits away if they pay less?
You know, like you say, okay, well you can join the program, but there’s no lead flow. Well, you’ll never see that person next year. You know that. So you don’t want to do that. You just want to basically focus. You know, we really are mentally and emotionally set up to only understand one thing at a time.
And so we don’t try and sell two products at the same time for that very reason. Sure. That can be an upsell, but for the most part, we present the entire picture. And by the way, when I work with clients, I give them the video scripts. To use to record their entire sequence on how to pitch this program.
Now, clearly the pitch is different for every person, but I try to instill in folks that there is a theme that works really, really well, that I perfected a long time ago which now has been used many, many times by many clients and many people and others outside of what I do use. Inadvertently a very similar theme as well.
So we teach all of this as part of the prep work for getting people into the program too.
Joel Erway: [00:57:00]
Perfect. Mitch, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much. You’re brilliant at what you do. It’s very apparent. If you are listening right now, definitely at the bare minimum, go by the book Power Tribes. Take Mitch up on his offer with the other, I can’t remember the link that you gave us
Mitch Russo: [00:57:21]
Yeah, it’s profitstackingsecrets.com.
Joel Erway: [00:57:24]
profitstackingsecrets.com. That’s free for the first three lessons. Check out his marketing brain, his marketing mind. You’ve already gotten a crash course lesson here today on developing a potential new business model for your own offer. Mitch. Thank you so much, man. It was great to reconnect. It’s great to have you on the show and for my listeners, if you’re listening right now, please connect with Mitch.
Let him know you heard them on Experts Unleashed and we’ll see you in the next episode. Take care.