Episode 319

How B2B SaaS Companies Create Powerful Profitable Certified Agency Partner Programs with LifterLMS

Learn how B2B SaaS companies create powerful profitable certified agency partner programs with LifterLMS in this episode of the LMScast podcast featuring Adrian Tobey, CEO of Groundhogg. Groundhogg is a CRM solution for WordPress where you can host your email list inside of WordPress instead of on a system like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.

How B2B SaaS companies create powerful profitable certified agency partner programs with LifterLMS

Both Chris and Adrian came out of the Infusionsoft world. When Infusionsoft it was a new software company they really focused on developing their certified partner program, and that has served as the inspiration for many certified partner programs other companies have adopted. Infusionsoft’s partner program helps customers onboard and builds an ecosystem of professionals that can offer services for people who want the software but need help setting it up.

Throughout the ‘90s Microsoft heavily invested in training agencies around the world, which small businesses would go to in order to implement their IT infrastructure. Microsoft would charge those agencies for them to receive training about Microsoft’s IT products, and they would take the training and turn around to their client base and sell the Microsoft IT packages and earn a commission based on whatever plans they sold to those small businesses. Adrian has his program as a paid option for agencies to build their relationship with Groundhogg and others who are having success in the industry and make the connection where they can be recommended as experts to users that approach Groundhogg looking for some more advanced help.

Groundhogg logo

Adrian shares some insights on the difference between customer support and the value a certified partner program adds by having a place where users can go to get more advanced implementation help or assistance with custom development. The support function of the company can usually helps out with questions related to functionality and simple funnels, but when a user has questions about setting up a super advanced funnel with 17 different things, and it requires support to log in and set up the actual funnels on the site, that’s where the partner program can serve those customers who have the software products and are looking for more advanced implementation assistance.

To learn more about Adrian Tobey and the great developments he and his team have going on at Groundhogg, check out Groundhogg.io. They have all the tools you need in order to launch your funnel, grow your list, and scale your business from your WordPress dashboard admin page. You can create automations, email campaigns, broadcasts, and manage all contacts in your nurture system from your WordPress platform. This eliminates the need for you to tab out in order to head to ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, or HubSpot where they have their separate interface and database for storing your data when you can host it with Groundhogg right in your WordPress installation.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:
You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Adrian Tobey from Groundhogg. That’s it, Groundhogg with two Gs.io. Adrian is the CEO and co-founder of Groundhogg, which is a marketing automation and CRM solution for WordPress.

Chris Badgett:
Welcome to the show, Adrian.

Adrian Tobey:
Thanks for having me on.

Chris Badgett:
I’m excited to get into it with you today. Software companies in particular I’m seeing more and more use Lifter to build a partner program, like a Certified Partner program. You and I both came out of the Infusionsoft world. Infusionsoft was an early as a software company at least from my awareness are a company that really focused on developing a partner program to help their customers on board and build an ecosystem of professionals that could do services for people that wanted the software but needed help setting it up. So that’s how I first came across this idea of a software company having a partner program. Why did you create a partner program for Groundhogg? What was the genesis of it?

Adrian Tobey:
Let me fill in a little bit of context. So Microsoft was really the first channel distribution method using partners. Microsoft throughout the ’90s invested heavily in training agencies around the world which small businesses would go to in order to implement their IT infrastructure. So Microsoft would charge those agencies for them to receive training about Microsoft IT products. And then they would then take that training, they would turn around to their client base so the small businesses who were hiring that agency to implement their IT, they would turn around and they would sell to them Microsoft IT packages and then they would earn commission based on whatever plans that they sold to those small businesses. And that was the first kind of conceptual idea of what we call channel distribution, which you have multiple channels. You have ads. You have YouTube. You have organic. And then you have partners. And that’s one of the channels.

Adrian Tobey:
So when I entered into the Infusionsoft space and I was using Infusionsoft much before I started Groundhogg, the agency that I worked with, Training Business Pros was the largest Infusionsoft Certified Partner in Canada. So we did the highest volume in terms of implementation, as well as sales in the region. And Canada at that point was its own region.

Chris Badgett:
Just so I can make sure I’m clear. The partner in that case was also kind of selling the software. It wasn’t the software got sold first and then the partner would come in to support it later?

Adrian Tobey:
So there’s a couple kinds of partners, and I’ll cover that. One of them is the implementation partner, one of them is the sales partner, and some agencies choose to do both. The agency that I worked with did both. Not only did we help the small business implement Infusionsoft. We also sold them the Infusionsoft package, because most companies, they go online and they search around and say, “I need marketing automation.” They’re going to find a bunch of blog posts which are usually written by a bunch of agencies, and they end up contacting those agencies. They don’t really know what software they need. They don’t really want to know because they’re small businesses and they’re busy.

Adrian Tobey:
So they end up talking to the agency and the agent says, “We’re going to set you up with all of this technology of which we’re Certified Partners for in order to add a little bit of credibility to the conversation,” and then they turn around and they’re going to then sell you that software package and then earn a commission based on that software that they sell you, and then they go ahead and implement it. So the agency wins, the small business wins and then the software provider wins.

Chris Badgett:
How do you differentiate a sales partner from an affiliate partner? Is it kind of just a more advanced form of affiliate marketing?

Adrian Tobey:
So it is a more advanced form of affiliate marketing, but there’s a lot more that goes into being a Certified Partner. When I think Certified Partner, I think someone who has invested in the business that they are promoting. So the Certified Partner for Infusionsoft, they had to pay quite a bit of money for training. They had to have their own implementation of the product running in their own business. They had to send people to Arizona to get trained.

Adrian Tobey:
I came a little bit later. So early variations of the Infusionsoft Certified Partner program. Paul who’s in the back there had to fly to Arizona in order to be in a room with 30 people and get trained on Infusionsoft best practices and whatnot. I came on a little bit later when it was more virtualized, but still it was like five hours a week of getting on calls with somebody and one on many kind of training, and then there was a test and then you had to do like a case study and there was a lot of work associated with getting that certification badge.

Adrian Tobey:
So when I think Certified Partner I think someone who has invested time in learning as well as in financials in order to be attached to the organization which they’re promoting. Being an affiliate partner is a much lower level of commitment because anyone can really be an affiliate. They just, they get their affiliate link. They go out. They promote it. If it doesn’t work, they move on. But a Certified Partner is committed to that business or to that software on multiple levels. And that creates a much better experience not only for the software distributor, not only for the agency, but most importantly for the small business because they know that when they’re buying from a Certified Partner, that also comes with support and implementation and guidance and training that they wouldn’t get from an affiliate partner per se. Does that make sense?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So for example, like an affiliate may do a roundup post that mentions a lot of different softwares, get a lot of clicks, maybe make some commissions. Whereas an affiliate/implementation partner, they’re really just promoting one thing that’s deeply embedded in their business and they’re on the hook to help deliver it and make sure the customer is successful with it and stuff too.

Adrian Tobey:
Absolutely. They’re deeply committed to their visitors and their users and their customer success as well. Affiliate partners are not necessarily committed to that. It’s like if they get the sale, they move on and it’s all great. Not all affiliate partners are like that and some are deeply committed to the products they use, but a Certified Partner is kind of like just that much deeper commitment to success.

Chris Badgett:
Well, I know you use LifterLMS for some of your Certified Partner training, but before we get into that, when you look at Groundhogg specifically as your business, what was the strategy and the problems you wanted to address or the jobs to be done that really caused you to invest the time, energy, and money to develop a Certified Partner program for Groundhogg?

Adrian Tobey:
So there are two kinds of software products on the planet. You and me both have the same kind of software product. We distribute and develop platform products. These are products which require deep embedding into the business that is using them. They are very difficult to migrate away from and difficult to migrate to if you’re coming from another provider. They are generally a little bit more expensive. They have a lot of functionality built in. And they control and manage various facets and various pillars of a business, billing, content management, CRM, reporting, et cetera.

Adrian Tobey:
The other kind of tool is what I call just a … I said it’s platform and …

Chris Badgett:
I call them one trick pony, and I don’t mean that in any kind of insulting way. It like does one thing really well, but it’s not like an entire-

Adrian Tobey:
Yeah, it’s like a hammer, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Adrian Tobey:
It’s really good. It’s a hammer tool. You just, you use it for one very specific thing. It’s very easy to get rid of. It’s easy to replace, and it’s really convenient. But it doesn’t … Its existence within your business is not fundamental to the business’ success.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Adrian Tobey:
Groundhogg and LifterLMS, once you implement them in your business, they are fundamental in the continued success and operability of said business. So when you have that kind of product, and I call them, they’re also high touch products, which they require multiple touch points with between the provider as well as the customer. When you have that kind of product, it’s imperative that you have a network of people who are incredibly experienced in implementing your product because you as a software distributor most likely do not have the bandwidth to log into all of your customers websites and implement your product for them from top to bottom. That is just a non-feasible strategy for success because you’d be spending way more on staff to go ahead and do that then you would be able to … sorry, you’d be spending way more money on staff than you’d be able to collect in revenue from your license.

Chris Badgett:
I think that’s an important point-

Adrian Tobey:
Unless you’re HubSpot.

Chris Badgett:
That’s an important point I want to ask you a question around, which I think all software companies need to think about even though it seems obvious. In this context, what is the difference between customer support and implementation services?

Adrian Tobey:
So customer support, I drew a line in the sand in what I would consider customer support very early on, because marketing automation is as simple as we attempt to make it, it’s still a behemoth at the end of the day. There’s still a lot of things that you conceptually need to understand and we developed training and we have documentation, but our support, so when you submit a support ticket and you say, “Hey listen, I need help implementing this,” as long as it’s a technical issue, like there’s a setup, your emails aren’t going out, your [inaudible 00:10:54] job is set up incorrectly or something in your funnel is not configured properly, we can help with that.

Adrian Tobey:
But as soon as you start in, as someone starts going into, “How do I implement this specific funnel that does these 17 things and can you do that for me,” that’s when we draw the line we say, “Absolutely not. Our support system is going to cover technical support which are for basic configuration issues and solving bugs and plug-in conflicts and typical WordPress stuff. If you need that kind of high-level implementation help, we have this network of Certified Partners that are going to be able to help you.”

Adrian Tobey:
So if you’re a platform product like LifterLMS, like Groundhogg or …

Chris Badgett:
WooCommerce.

Adrian Tobey:
WooCommerce, platform products, thank you, you cannot afford to also be the implementation company for your product. It’s just, it’s non-feasible to include that in the price of license.

Chris Badgett:
Quick question.

Adrian Tobey:
Some … Yes.

Chris Badgett:
Why did you not start an implementation service in your company as opposed to developing a partner program? And maybe you could do both too at the same time, but why did you choose to not build another business unit of implementation services?

Adrian Tobey:
I still may.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Adrian Tobey:
But it also comes down to volume. Building a partner program was looking into the future of demand versus the demand that we had at the moment. So when I started that program, we probably had like 500 people using Groundhogg, which is not a lot, and certainly not enough in order to build an entire unit to develop implementation services because that would require like putting one guy on staff and then either hiring his contract and emailing him once a month being like, “All right, this person needs whatever campaign.”

Adrian Tobey:
That’s not something that I was interested in, and instead, rather than having the need or the desire to build an in-house staff to handle that, I was looking in the future and I said, “We can build out a network of people who really know Groundhogg and will evangelize for it and also offload marketing, offload sales, offload a lot of different conversations to that network of Certified Partners,” because they’re happy to do it, because if they sell Groundhogg, guess what? They get paid to do that. And they also get a customer that they have as an agency. And our core customer and our ideal customer is that agency.

Adrian Tobey:
So in the best way that we can support them in order to continue to evangelize Groundhogg and make that accessible, we want to invest as much money and as much time in that as possible rather than building our own in-house unit.

Chris Badgett:
Quick question. How did you come to the realization or make the decision to make your core customer the implementer or the agency as opposed to the do-it-yourself business owner who’s wanting to implement marketing automation in their business from their WordPress site? It doesn’t mean you can’t help those people. You absolutely do. But you said the word core customer. Why agency versus do-it-yourselfer?

Adrian Tobey:
That idea matured over time. In the beginning it was the DIYer. That’s kind of where I started out. And then as I was building Groundhogg, I came from an agency background and a lot of the tools that I put into Groundhogg would help me as an agency which I no longer do, perform better and more efficiently. And then I went to Cabo with you and that matured even more after that. And then eventually it all comes down to look at the numbers. So I looked at, I peeked into Groundhogg and I looked at the numbers and I knew kind of conceptually that I really liked agencies and I really liked these types of businesses.

Adrian Tobey:
And I looked at the numbers, like guess what they spend the most and they require the least amount of support. Guess what? Because they’re doing all of the support themselves for their customers who are using Groundhogg. Which means I don’t get support tickets, which means they’re really the ideal customer because they spend the most and they cost the least in order to support. And that’s really where my core ideal customer. Now agencies probably only make up about 33% of our audience. I mean, the rest is filled in by DIYers and small businesses and non-profits and et cetera.

Chris Badgett:
I know you use LifterLMS to implement the training part of your partner program. But bigger than just that tool, what are the building blocks that you need to put in place to strategically to create a partner program? Like what all needs to come together to make a successful partner program? Training’s one thing. What else?

Adrian Tobey:
So I emulated my partner program based on the program built by a guy named Cory Miller. Now Cory Miller inherited the Certified Partner program at Infusionsoft and he did such a great job that he got poached by another company. And then from that company he got poached by ActiveCampaign which is where he currently is developing their Certified Partner program.

Chris Badgett:
By the way. I just want to give a shout out. I want to give a shout out to KPC who has been on this podcast. She is a ActiveCampaign Certified Partner. She knows Lifter and she is … I see in the ActiveCampaign group how involved their partners are and I’m talking about Facebook. Like I can tell. It’s like a world-class partner program. And just to be clear. This is a different Cory Miller than the Cory Miller we know in the WordPress space, right?

Adrian Tobey:
Yes. It’s a different … No sorry. Did I say Cory Miller? I meant … Sorry Cory from ActiveCampaign. His name is Cory Snyder. Sorry.

Chris Badgett:
Okay.

Adrian Tobey:
I just talked to Cory Miller like a couple days ago, which is why I’m thinking Cory. Cory Snyder. Sorry Cory if you ever listen to this. Corey Snyder is doing the Certified Partner program at ActiveCampaign and he’s doing nothing short of phenomenal. And I tried to emulate my certified program based on a lot of the stuff that he’s built. Okay, so number one is there needs to be some sort of investment on behalf of the Certified Partner. I know your expert program is free at the moment.

Chris Badgett:
Currently. That’s about to change.

Adrian Tobey:
Currently. So there needs to be some kind of investment from the agency in order to make them committed to you, because that commitment, from that commitment comes their commitment to making sure that their customers are also happy, which is what you want at the end of the day because if they’re using your stuff, you want them to be happy, you want the agency to be happy, and that all comes from that first commitment level. So making them committed to you at the beginning is essential, and there needs to be an investment in that.

Adrian Tobey:
Being an Infusionsoft Certified Partner was like a $3,000 investment for the first year and then 2,500 renewal every year. My investment at the moment is $1,000 upfront and then $500 Certified Partner renewal fee to keep updated with training and et cetera, and also to keep your access to all the assets that we provide our partners with.

Adrian Tobey:
So there needs to be an investment in order for them to be deeply committed in order to being successful. That’s number one. Number two is there needs to be training. Our Certified Partner program gets several different levels of experience. I’ve been running an agency for 25 years. I know how this works. Your software is just going to make a lot of the things that we do easier, and that’s why I want to be a Certified Partner because I want to get the commission, I want to get the special treatment, I want to get all these things and that’s why I’m being. But I don’t really need any help. And that’s cool. That’s fine. We love those people because they come in, they know what they’re doing.

Adrian Tobey:
And then on the opposite side of the spectrum, we get … I started my digital marketing business yesterday, and I really want to use your stuff for my clients of which I don’t have any yet. And that’s kind of the other side of the spectrum. And the training is really for everybody in between those two extremes.

Adrian Tobey:
Our Certified Partner training not only has training on actually how to use Groundhogg and implement the product, but a lot of conceptual agency ideas, like how do you handle pricing, how do you handle quoting, how do you actually find customers to use Groundhogg for, how do you promote it, how do you generate traffic to your website. People don’t know these things off the bat unless they go look it up. So we’ve compiled all the things that, all the strategies that we’d use to build our agency back in the day, as well as what we use currently to attract agencies to Groundhogg and DIYers to Groundhogg.

Adrian Tobey:
And then we digest that or we provide that information to them so that they can ramp up quickly, get some content out there, find some clients, and ultimately be successful. That’s what’s most important to us. So training is nothing short of essential for the people who are not … I’ve been running my agency for 25 years and I just want a better commission rate, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Adrian Tobey:
So that’s thing number one. Number two is there obviously has to be some sort of incentive for them to be a Certified Partner rather than an affiliate partner. We provide our Certified Partners with double the commission rate of affiliate partners because they are at that high level of commitment and we want to reward them for that. So they get a better commission rate. They also get access to specific customer, or sorry, specific agency assets that we provide. Since we only work with agencies, we know a little bit about that game so better, so project management tools, we provide sales tools. We even distribute leads from time to time.

Adrian Tobey:
We have an RFP process. I’m working on making it better, but if someone comes to us and says, “I need implementation help,” we actually provide them with an RFP form and then we actually distribute that to our Certified Partner network, and then they can on their own time respond to that lead if they feel that it’s a good fit for them based on price and project details, et cetera, et cetera. So that’s something that we do as well. So if people are struggling to find leads on their own, we can help them with that process and kind of get their sea legs going to use an analogy.

Adrian Tobey:
We have a bi-weekly Certified Partner Mastermind call which in complete honesty we’re working on creating better engagement for. We typically get maybe 10% to 15% of our Certified Partners on the call, which we have a network of around 40 at this point. And we’re trying to improve the engagements on that right now. But we have that as a mechanism for them to be able to tell me these are the things that I as an agency am struggling with while using your software, because since our core customer is agencies, we want to make sure that our software supports the agencies in a way that they’re going to be able to effectively implement our products.

Adrian Tobey:
It’s also an opportunity for them to discuss with other agencies. Their roadblocks, getting more customers, dealing with snotty clients, dealing with I’m not charging enough, how can I charge more and not feel terrible about it, those kinds of conversations we have a lot. We also have Certified Partners kind of demo sometimes their implementations for their customers that have agreed to share. Like, “Here is how I created x results using x strategy with Groundhogg for this specific niche.” We do that sometimes as well, so people get a lot of value out of that.

Adrian Tobey:
So there’s a lot of effort that goes into making a good Certified Partner program. There’s a lot of assets and there’s a lot of value that they get out of it for the money. But all of that value at the end of the day is totally worth it because they’re selling Groundhogg, they’re turning around selling it and evangelizing your software to their clients who are then going and they’re paying for licenses or the agency is paying for the agency license, which is a whole ton of money anyway. So really it’s totally worth it all in all.

Adrian Tobey:
So training or a constant communication vector so either like a Facebook group or the mastermind call that we do, investment, and they have to be invested. Those are what I said like the three pillars to start off are in order to develop your first go-round of a Certified Partner Program.

Chris Badgett:
I love that. That’s the total triple win. You win, the partner wins, the customer wins, gets awesome implementation. And that’s super important. I love how you’re investing in not just helping them know how to best use your software, but to actually grow their business, get leads, manage clients effectively. You’re really investing in them.

Adrian Tobey:
They can’t win if the only thing they know how to do is implement Groundhogg, right?

Chris Badgett:
Right.

Adrian Tobey:
That’s not enough. That’s not the whole conversation. It’s only a fragment. You can use Groundhogg in order to improve the conversation greatly. That’s what we do. But you need people going to your website or you need people to be able to find you in order to actually make that worthwhile.

Chris Badgett:
So how did you use LifterLMS? What parts of it are you using to best facilitate the training? Yeah.

Adrian Tobey:
So when someone signs up for the certification program, they get immediate access to our Certified Partner course which is our training.

Chris Badgett:
Are you selling LifterLMS or through LifterLMS or through a different tool?

Adrian Tobey:
We sell through EDD and we have webhooks and a bunch of API stuff set up in order to facilitate them being enrolled in the course.

Chris Badgett:
Nice.

Adrian Tobey:
So they purchase on our site through our current payment provider which is Easy Digital Downloads. They get access to the course in Lifter which is on another website. They go log in. They enroll. And then they take in between two to four days to go through the Certified Partner training. It’s a follow along type deal. We ask a lot of questions. So one of the sessions that I’m most proud of is the how to pick your niche one because that’s something that tons of agencies struggle with early on.

Chris Badgett:
Totally.

Adrian Tobey:
And when they go and they try to attack the whole ocean, they should just be choosing like one kind of fish, right? Just target goldfish man. You’re going to kill yourself trying to reel in that big whale right away, and it’s just not going to happen.

Adrian Tobey:
So we help Certified Partners identify a niche quickly and efficiently, and that way when we get into, all right, here’s how you design content for that specific niche. They’re a lot more successful because they don’t need to or they’re not trying to bite it all at once. So that’s one of the episodes [inaudible 00:25:22].

Adrian Tobey:
So we go through that process. That takes anywhere from two to four days. And then they have an interview with me, so I can get to know them a little bit better and I can understand a little bit about their business, and since our Certified Partner network is small at the moment, I have the luxury of kind of knowing everybody by name. So I can identify if someone comes to me and says, “Hey listen. I have a specific problem. Do you have an agency or a Certified Partner who knows this industry really well?” And I can think to myself, “Yeah, I know exactly who that person is who’s going to be able to help you out really, really fast,” and then I make that connection with them.

Adrian Tobey:
I do that a lot. We have a Certified Partner who does a lot of work in the LMS and healthcare industry, and I get a lot of customers who come to me and says, “Hey listen. I have this healthcare LMS site that I need built and I want to implement Groundhogg,” and I’m like, “I know exactly who you need to talk to,” and then I make the connection and then hopefully they’re able to work something out. And he does actually … He’s one of our more advanced Certified Partners. And that’s the kind of thing that we do, and those are the kind of things that are important to us.

Chris Badgett:
You mentioned that partner that’s doing well. Like what are the qualities of a partner that’s the most successful in your program, like without playing favorites or whatever to a specific company or whatever, like what makes a good partner?

Adrian Tobey:
So it is the 80/20 … I should mention, it is the 80/20 rule as it is in all things. Real estate, businesses, Certified Partner it’s the 80/20 rule. 80% are going to join your program and they’re going to be really, really gung-ho and they’re going to do their best. And over time the hype is going to fade. We do as much as we possibly can in order to get them past that point and into the I’m making money point. There’s only so much as a business that you can do in order to promote that. And as long as you are making the effort to get them past the hump, you have satisfied the requirement or you have satisfied your obligation, and the rest is on them and their programming and their training. So I should mention that.

Adrian Tobey:
But for those 20 who kind of get past the hump, their successful qualities are they have niched down. So they have a specific focus and they use a specific set of tools. For example, I mentioned this guy who does healthcare LMS, right?

Chris Badgett:
That’s two niches.

Adrian Tobey:
Two specific niche.

Chris Badgett:
Two niches. It’s a sub niche, like healthcare and …

Adrian Tobey:
It’s a sub niche. Yeah. So that’s what he does. He does people who do healthcare and LMS. That’s what he does. So anybody who comes to me and says, “I do healthcare LMS,” I’m like, “I know who you need to talk to.” So the most successful partners are the people who have niched down.

Adrian Tobey:
There doesn’t necessarily seem to be a correlation between size and success. This guy runs a larger agency like 20 people and then there’s another one who’s also successful who has like, it’s like him and a contractor, but he does large projects while the other guy does volume projects. So there doesn’t seem to be a correlation for size. So don’t think that you need to be a massive agency in order to be successful. There are many out there people who are doing it as a lifestyle business that are quite happy doing what they’re doing. They’re doing one to two projects at a time for 30k a month.

Chris Badgett:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Adrian Tobey:
That’s so. There’s no correlation there. The pricing structure that I’ve noticed that does really, really, really well is the monthly billing model or the retainer model. So people who avoid kind of the whole quoting business. There’s a few ways as an agency that you can charge people. The most standard way and the one that most agencies deploy is that you tell us the laundry list of the things that you want and we’re going to price those all out individually and then give you a quote back.

Adrian Tobey:
I am not a huge fan of that model, because there’s lots of ambiguity and the end result is not clear, and that’s when you implement or that’s when you might get scope creep and unhappy customers and it just creates a bad experience if you go through that method upfront. My preferred method is that you have a list of services that you are confident that you can implement regardless of what the customer thinks that they need. You as the agency are the expert, and the agencies that make that clear upfront are the ones who succeed a lot.

Adrian Tobey:
So they’re basically saying. So I’m a customer and I land on an agency’s website.” I’m saying, “We’re going to help you implement like this strategy in order to increase and get these specific results.” The agencies that do that are a lot more successful than we’re going to help you build whatever it is that you want, because whatever it is that you want does not necessarily mean that you’re going to get any specific results from that. So it’s the agencies that are promising results and then they implement their known strategies in order to actually achieve said results, those are the ones that are really successful.

Adrian Tobey:
And then they have specific pricing structures for that. So if I’m saying, “Listen, I’m going to add an exit intent pop-up to your site in order to achieve 10% subscription rate on x page or whatever, and that’s the result that we’re going to say. This specific strategy is going to cost you like $3,000. We’re going to do the design, the implementation, the writing emails, and all that stuff.

Adrian Tobey:
So the agencies that have those predefined pricing strategies upfront are the ones that are the most successful. And we actually train on that in our Certified Partner training. So it’s like, if you haven’t decided on a pricing model yet, here’s the one that we recommend. And in order to kind of get agencies to essentially selling funnel packages, because that’s … We have exportable funnels that you can just drop into any website. We basically want them to sell funnel packages as a pricing strategy because we find that’s just like the easiest for people to comprehend and then to sell.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. That is super cool. If a WordPress software or any kind of software tool is looking at developing a partner program and they’re not trained as teachers, whether they’re either they’re probably likely technically minded or marketing sales innovation minded, what tips do you have for creating instructional content for these agency partners if we’ve never really taught before?

Adrian Tobey:
Well, step one is take a course on how to teach. There is a specific track that I’d highly recommend. It’s called Train the Trainer. There are several companies that do that. Hold on one sec. Nancy, what’s a company that does Train the Trainer besides ours? So Training Business Pros which is the agency I used to work for has a Train the Trainers course coming up in November. But what’s the one with the guy from Alberta Nancy? Peak Potentials. So Peak Potentials also has a good Train the Trainer course which the one from Training Business Pros actually borrows some information from, although I think Paul at Training Business Pros does it a little bit better.

Chris Badgett:
So you don’t have to invent a teaching methodology from scratch? You can go-

Adrian Tobey:
Nor should you. There is a teaching a training. Okay, so there’s a difference between training and teaching. There’s a psychological difference. I always like to use the word training. So there is a specific training methodology that is proven in order to get a higher level of commitment and engagement from your audience and your students. So you should not go out and develop your own instructional training method. You should get one that’s proven to work. And Train the Trainer from various different organizations is … They pretty much all show the same and train the same thing, and it’s that this specific instructional training method that’s proven to get results. It works in a live context. It works in a recorded context. It works on a webinar context. It’s really it works in every sort of training one on many contexts.

Adrian Tobey:
It’s not necessarily a one-on-one teaching methodology or training methodology. It’s a one-on-many, but that’s … If you’re doing a course, that’s really what you’re doing, it’s one-on-many. So if you’re not an instructional designer and you’ve never trained before, don’t just jump in. Invest in yourself, I promise, taking a course on how to train people properly using methods like suggestology, call of answer, exercises and all these various different methodologies is going to yield you way better results than you feeling through the dark and utterly failing on your first attempt.

Adrian Tobey:
There’s also for example if you’re doing like stuff on web, there’s an entire specific how to close template for doing sales from the stage or from a webinar. I did that with Buddy Boss a month and a half ago and it killed. So take my word for it. Go get trained on how to train if you’ve never trained before. It is well worth the investment and these are skills that are usable for the rest of your life. I, being part of this kind of training community was raised indoctrinated in this methodology. So I have an unfair advantage when it comes to that. But you need to go get it. That’s the only thing I’m going to say at the end.

Chris Badgett:
So part of the audience who watches these on YouTube and listens on the podcast are WordPress professionals, freelancers, agency owners. If they’re interested in getting into or focusing or niching or subniching an intersection of LMS and marketing automation with Groundhogg, what … tell, give us the pitch for your partner program?

Adrian Tobey:
All right, so here’s the deal. If you are an agency or you’re looking to start agency services, there are a few ways that you can go about it. The first way is you can load up your website, you can spit out some words on a page, and you might be able to find a few clients from that. Maybe you’ll work for your sister’s brother or … Your sister’s brother that would be your brother. Your sister’s friend’s brother or your mechanic or whoever. And that’s a good way to start.

Adrian Tobey:
You’ll feel your way through the dark. You’ll deal with issues like scope creep, you’ll deal with shitty clients, you’ll deal with hiring a bunch of contractors, then firing a bunch of contractors because you overextended, you’ll deal with projects taking six to seven months to complete when they should’ve been six to seven weeks.

Adrian Tobey:
These are all the things that I as an agency and working in an agency with other people went through. These are things that I’ve learned and understood and have developed systems and processes in order to overcome and create clear and concise actionable results for agencies and their clients.

Adrian Tobey:
Our Certified Partner program at Groundhogg is aimed to not only train you as a new agency on how to price and create those services for those prospective customers that you will get. We also show you how to attract new customers and of course implement Groundhogg for those people and for your own business so that you can grow your list, launch your funnel, and scale your business.

Adrian Tobey:
We also have our bi-weekly Certified Partner mastermind call where you get to consult with other agencies that we’ve helped and are already successful, so you can learn the strategies that they’re deploying in order to satisfy their clients needs, their agency’s needs, and scale their own businesses. If that sounds like something that might be able to interest you, you can go to groundhogg with two Gs .io. You can go to our partner page. We have a partner application form there. You’ll get on a meeting with Nancy who is our Certified Partner Manager.

Adrian Tobey:
And then, if you decide to sign up, you’ll be able to go through the course. It’ll take you anywhere from two to four days. It’s a follow-along course and you are going to get a ton of insight into actually how to work a successful agency. After that, you’re going to have a meeting with me. We’re going to get to know each other. And then from there, you’re going to have the actionable insights that you are going to need in order to hit the ground running rather than spending anywhere from two to three years feeling your way through the dark until you actually start to see some profitable results.

Chris Badgett:
That is awesome. Now, if there’s a B2B software founder listening to this, what would you have to say about your decision to choose LifterLMS? Why did you choose Lifter for the training component of your partner program? I mean you already knew WordPress, you already had a WordPress marketing website. But why else … You’re already in WordPress but why else did you choose LifterLMS to help with your training program, your partner training program?

Adrian Tobey:
Don’t kill me but the first iteration of my partner program did not use LifterLMS. I actually just loaded a bunch of Vimeo videos on an Elementor page that I just designed. That was good enough for a while. And then it was time to get serious about a lot of our courses. We have a lot of customer success courses. Our official quick start course, how to get more five star reviews, how to-

Chris Badgett:
So you’re doing training not just for your customers, not just … You’re already in training?

Adrian Tobey:
Yeah. We developed that academy website for customer success, and then it was a natural progression to you or to deploy our Certified Partner training onto that structure as well, which has been quite successful. We have all the reporting that we need in order to determine these are the agencies that are making it through the training, these are the ones that are falling off. How do we fix that? So we’re getting a lot of insight from the [inaudible 00:38:51] on how to improve our training.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. And for those of you listening, if you’ve ever thought about having a single source platform for your online business, check out Groundhogg. You don’t have to use ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Drip, Ontraport. You can. Those are all good tools. But if you want to have it all-in-one, one website, keep it simple, check out groundhogg.io.

Chris Badgett:
If you could just give us briefly like what is Groundhogg in any final words for the people and we’ll call it a day?

Adrian Tobey:
Yeah. Sure thing. All right, so Groundhogg is marketing automation and CRM right within your WordPress website. We have all the tools that you’re going to need in order to launch your funnel, grow your list, and scale your business from your WordPress admin dashboard. You’re going to be able to create marketing automation funnels, email marketing campaigns, broadcasts, and manage all of your contacts and nurture your elites from your WordPress platform. So this means that we’re eliminating the need for you to tab in and out of different softwares so you’re not going to need to log in to keep Infusionsoft [inaudible 00:40:03] ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, all those different tools, plus Groundhogg which is open source and self-hosted on your WordPress website.

Adrian Tobey:
Because of that we charge a flat rate, meaning that if your list grows as your business grows, which it will using our software, you are not going to need to pay more monthly as your business grows. This is a requirement that’s pretty standard across every single marketing automation platform. If you look at ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, HubSpot, they all charge more as you get more contacts. That’s just something that we decided not to do. We have flat rate pricing which means that you’re only paying for features and support. You are not paying for the number of people on your list. If you’re a big business, you’re a small business it is the same.

Adrian Tobey:
So if that sounds like something that interests you and maybe you’re already using one of those other softwares and you want to switch, that is something we can help you out with as well through our Certified Partner network. So you can go to groundhogg.io. We have a bunch of comparisons between Groundhogg and the various different other market automation tools that are there. You can also see the price comparison directly on our pricing page and you can see exactly how much we can save you per month when you switch to Groundhog and you have a large list.

Chris Badgett:
Adrian, thanks so much for coming on the show. I appreciate the conversation and we’ll catch up down the road with you a little bit.

Adrian Tobey:
Yeah, I loved it. I had a great time. Thank you so much for having me and I hope we can do it again sometime.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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