Finding resellers for services or products should be easy. However, failure to transfer necessary skills along with your business is often the barrier to success. It’s critical to engineer genuine enthusiasm and faith — as well as transfer the skills needed to run and scale your business in the market — to the Independent Sales Organization (ISO). Todd Johnson, a corporate growth strategist and author of the paper, “Skills Transfer: Mystery Solved” and I have developed several reseller-fueled organizations over the past 18 years. We’ve quantified what’s needed for a quick, dependable and profitable ISO sale.
Both of us have sold multiple organizations and worked with several Google Venture firms (one of our communication firms even grew to over 3,000 contracted ISO sales agents). Through growing my own companies I’ve learned that developing ISO resellers can be quite profitable if done correctly. My secret: making skill transfer techniques fundamental to the process of scaling.
Learning From Experience
Todd Johnson was also an executive of digital firm NetPage Communications, a company that focused on websites, hosting and marketing support. He had just finished building and selling a communications firm that grew from two sales agents to 500 ISOs with over $300 million in revenue and felt that bringing a similar philosophy of packing, training, and partnership would scale just as well in the web space.
However, the process of educating sales agents who didn’t know a lot about digital marketing was tough. Even though the entire process looked similar to what he’d already done, the slow understanding of his field agents hampered client acquisition and momentum. The cost of training along with the delay in teaching new skills interrupted their sales cycle, and they had to shut down the project.
His next project had the benefit of hindsight and a more mindful attitude when it came to scaling skills transfer. Johnson looked for digital partners who had agents with more experience in their space. He profiled their personality makeup in order to find others like them. His business development team created learning tools designed to explain the product clearly in short and easy bursts. As the market adjusted, he was able to adjust the knowledge modules, so the entire organization could grow and adapt instantly. The result was 800 sales agents, 114,000 new business clients, $40 million in annual revenue and an exit sale.
Developing Your Own ISO Team
If you’re interested in developing your own field reseller network (ISO sales team), there are a few things to keep in mind. For one thing, it isn’t for everyone. Your initiative requires a sales partner who matches your mission, mandate and momentum. Don’t just engage the willing: adapt your partnership goals to your perfect fit. Here are a few questions to consider:
- How much do they need to already know about your industry to understand what you do and how to sell it?
- Is there a potential generation gap that your partner will need to manage?
- Are they committed to your industry or just product hopping?
- Does your partner and/or ISO have the same ideals, integrity and mission you do?
- Would you pay each member of their team a six-figure salary to work for you?
- Who do they already know in the industry?
Speeding to market is faster in a friendly car. Does your potential ISO have a data bank of warm prospects that are a perfect fit for your venture? For quick market uptake, it’s important to collaborate with the easy winners first. If you pick someone trying to blaze new territory, you’ll be bogged down in lead generation, migration and conversion. That will extend the sales life cycle and overdo your financial resources.
Understanding Skill Transfer
Skill transfer is the process of identifying the best practices in a particular operation and then transferring those practices to your reseller. If your ISO is a good culture, mission and industry match, then all that is left is their willingness to adopt your sales and marketing process. Classic innovators are only great after things are going smoothly. During the early stages of launch, keep everyone working in the same direction (since you have a process that works and works well).
Though tossed around as jargon in corporate settings, skill transfer is an exact science. The following six steps are the foundation of a good skill transfer process:
- Explain: The ISO must be excited to learn your process and agree that you’re the teacher and know the best practices.
- Demonstrate: Your training variables must be visual, tactile and auditory. They need to be broken down into bite-sized segments that your ISO can understand and copy.
- Practice: Your training process should involve your ISO demonstrating what they’ve just learned.
- Observe: See whether they’ve demonstrated a perfect understanding of your best practices and were able to use them in action. If not, what needs adjusting?
- Give Feedback: If your ISO needs to fix something, start again at the demonstration step and work through the process until it’s on target.
- Wait: Don’t send them into the fray until they’re ready.
Your ISOs will stay and grow with you if they have been properly prepared. They will enjoy quick success and be inspired by your projection charts if their experience is right for the work. When I’ve followed these steps, I’ve seen less churn, more faith and faster movement while building a reseller model.