CommissionCrowd presents a lucrative freelance sales opportunity for independent reps looking to sell leadership skills workshops for supervisors, managers, teams, business owners and Executives in central England.
>>Independent sales reps can apply to work with this company here: Learn more about working with The Forton Group
1. Helen, where did the inspiration for the Forton Group come from?
I founded the organisation back in 1992 working as a consultant for leaders in organisations. I hated the fact that the reports I invested time and effort in were simply put on the shelf. After some research, I found that there were consistent reasons why my recommendations and advice were not put into action. These included my own communications skills and some other key factors: client buy-in, client individual or group decision-making or the will and courage to change. I then researched solutions and found leadership development and coaching as the consistently high-performing client solutions. This inspired me to search past the waffle in this multi-billion pound business area, find out what ‘leadership’ really means – and deliver that to our clients.
2. What made you consider wanting to work with independent sales agents?
For us, leadership is about being accountable and taking personal responsibility – and independent sales agents embody that. The best sales people are true leaders in their own right.
Plus, our services are needed everywhere, so why have a location-based team – the pot is more than big enough for everyone to have a share.
Independent sales agents don't need to work specifically in the leadership skills training industry and agents in a multitude of industries can use their technical/sector expertise to open doors and make introductions on our behalf and receive a commission. For example: We already work with an independent agent specialising in medical devices and pharmaceutical sales and has also sold our services into their existing networks.
Our services are for anyone leading a team, wanting to be a better boss, or wanting to get better teamwork themselves – so it’s more of an ‘upsell’ or ‘cross sell’ – to people who are already buying from you.
3.Tell us a little about your expertise in the leadership and coaching arena
Forton is the oldest leadership development & specialist coaching firm, established in 2002. We achieved accreditation for our programmes, with the International Coach Federation (IC) over 15 years ago and were the first in the world to focus on this specialist area of work.
We are respected in this field as the trainers and supervisors of other coaches too, and our Directors are accredited by the ICF to assess other coaches in their exams.
In 2016 we added accredited programmes with the Chartered Management Institute, who also recognise us as assessors for this field.
Our USP is that our work is particularly valued by technical experts: whether in the field of sales management, IT, engineering, medical and dentistry – because of our systematic and consistent approach – people with that focus enjoy working with us because they feel safe in our hands.
4. Can you tell us about some of the work you have carried out to date?
Our biggest client is probably the UN; we’re their designated leadership & coaching training company and we’ve trained their people around the world.
We’ve worked for major organisations like BT, Network Rail and the NHS, Shell, Johnson & Johnson, and luxury goods firms like Coach, YSL, or financial services clients.
In Australia, even though a major technical university has its own leadership and coaching department in the MBA department, they’re using our skills, because we are the experts in applied leadership, not just the theory.
Our leadership and coaching services transcend industry sectors – because everyone wants a better boss and deserves better leadership.
Our projects range from coaching individual Board members, through to devising a year long programme for the high-potential talent in organisations. We also partner with HR organisations in HR to deliver our specialist services.
Business start-ups like us because we speed up the shift from that early innovation stage to create systems and processes that takes a business to the next level. We achieve this by reducing friction and smoothing relationships – whether it’s an IT start-up, engineering or pharma – technical experts feel their contribution is valued and they work better with others. This is especially true in the highly-competitive sales function, where sales managers get more out of their people: in reaching targets and boosting ROI.
We’ve recently introduced an E-Learning Package which takes the ideas behind better leadership, coaching and mentoring and puts them into bite-sized online learning – so that everyone can learn more about these subjects, at their own pace, at the time and location to suit them.
5. What's your greatest client success story?
We have many client success stories including:
i. An engineering client working on an airport project – where the slightest hitch costs time, money and credibility - talked through a challenge in the coaching. He made a decision which, it turned out, saved the company in excess of £1m.
ii. Internationally, the organisation that has most benefited from our leadership development services is 'Plan International', who work in many African countries. When the Ebola crisis hit, we supported Country Directors on the ground, organising teams under very challenging circumstances to save lives and keep people safe. Our group coaching services reached across Africa – and meant that these people had the back-up they needed.
iii. A software sales Director based in Ireland, found targets getting tougher while markets softened. We trained him to use better coaching techniques that motivated his team and gave him practical back-up to succeed.
6. Why would sales agents have an edge selling your services?
Freelance sales reps would have an advantage selling our services because our product range is about skills and behaviours, not theories. Independent sales agents are prepared to let their skills speak for them, and this reflects our approach. Independent sales agents know the value of genuine relationship-building and that’s how you get better leadership and teamwork.
7. What makes your service unique, innovative and sets you apart from the competition?
Our USP is that we achieve ‘abundant leadership’ – diverse and inclusive leadership based on skills and contribution, not on the egos of individual ‘hero’ leaders who feel lonely and isolated at the top.
We want people to know that they’re not alone – that they have a wealth of resources they can tap into to create better leadership solutions.
A second USP is the ‘Leadership Routemap’. Recently launched, this is a unique way of simplifying what leadership skills are. We have also created the Leadership Coaching Routemap. Both routemaps echo the London Underground map – using colour and visual imagery to simplify the complexity of this field. Our goal is to help people understand how easy it is to learn and apply leadership skills.
We enable clients to achieve enduring change and build better businesses by improving everyday workplace interactions:
- Improved personal confidence
- Better team contributions
- Reduced friction
- Faster delivery
- Flexible ways of working
Our passion is to introduce the age of abundant leadership: consistent leadership skills systematically and relentlessly applied in agile and relevant ways. Forton supports talent development, management and senior leadership programmes globally. Better leadership delivered through better conversations and improved workplace cultures.
8. What are you plans for the future of the Forton Group?
Our overall goal is to increase client volume significantly by focusing on developing technical and professional leaders and standardise our products into 4 areas:
- Leadership services
- Coaching services
- ELearning and Short courses
- Develop our ELearning Platform (The Leadership Zone)
- Create an app to promote our products and services and provide access to resources
9. What are your best selling services and why?
‘Ignite’ – an in-house course for groups or teams of 8 people or more in basic leadership and coaching skills. We also have the same programme as a public course in some countries and a virtual version available in a number of time-zones.
It’s popular because it gives people hands-on skills that they can go and use straight away back in the workplace. People also like it because it has some hand-holding support in the form of group online courses with the Tutors. This means they get support in applying their skills back in the real world.
We have 2 evidence papers about the real-world value of this course. One is an overview, the other is an independent report by the University of Queensland, Australia which shows how leaders and managers really value this development.
10. Have you received any recognition or awards for your products?
- The first ‘leadership coaching’ programme accredited by the International Coach Federation 15 years ago
- Leadership programmes accredited by the Chartered Management Institute in the UK
- Forton was recognised by CV Magazine in their Leadership & Training Awards (2016)
11. Please describe the typical sales cycle and process to sales agents
The first step is to apply to our sales opportunity on CommissionCrowd. There is a direct link at the top and bottom of this article.
Once we're connected and agree that we're a good fit for eachother, complete our training package on CommissionCrowd.
Have Sales Conversations broadly along these lines
i. The three key elements are that people ‘get’ the value of leadership and coaching services, that they have – or can get - the budget, and are willing to invest in these ways.
ii. If the organisation is large enough to have an HR or L&D function – they often hold the budget and procurement power – and sometimes want cheaper, less effective, in-house ‘solutions’. However, leaders and managers in the line are the people who more keenly feel the need for things to be better – and thus will push for better solutions. Both are based on relationship sales techniques but the latter also requires ‘challenger sales’ conversations if the Line Managers get into battle with HR/L&D. Successful sales come about where people relish those challenges are want to win on behalf of their (line manager) clients!
iii. Have a conversation about the leadership issues, challenges and needs that people face. Help people see that they can contribute to the solution by improving their own skills, and by investing in developing their people and teams. Help them see that this is a valuable investment with high ROI – with visible financial payback.
- The ‘pain’ may show up as in-fighting and friction, high-performers suddenly failing or going on a downward performance path; high sickness and absenteeism; poor performance management; low employee engagement results.
- The solutions are: in-person development; virtual live learning (ie in groups using an online platform similar to skype) or ELearning (which is self-paced and can happen anywhere they have the internet and a smart phone, tablet or computer)
- We also offer 1-1 and group coaching and team-building services. For example, the most popular one at the moment is how to have better performance conversations – which mixes ELearning, in-person development and group coaching sessions.
There’s a range of ways that people sign up and ‘join’ the Forton fanclub!
i. Social media – we’re active on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook
ii. If someone wants to try out the ELearning, they can register for our free ELearning Taster
iii. When the app arrives, invite people to access free leadership resources through that route
iv. If someone wants to test out our method, offer a ‘way in’ through a number of options – short course, 1-1 coaching, or our flagship product, ‘Ignite’.
There is a time investment in this selling this range of products and services – typically around 6 months from first meeting someone (who appreciates the value of what we offer and is willing to invest) to landing a deal. Hence the need for the free ELearning Taster and the (forthcoming) app – to keep them in the buying pipeline.
12. How do you currently bring in new business or win contracts?
- We have a database of 12,000 HR & L&D contacts that we email regularly
- We attend the CIPD L&D show (typically London Olympia) to raise our profile
- We look out for bids and tenders and respond. We have a reasonable success rate and are striving to streamline our process and improve our bid delivery
- We have sales support to arrange meetings
- People use our website to do their own research – often coming to us ready to buy