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MIB-style Nerf gun target practice on cardboard aliens and inspirational quotes from Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds were not the most unusual things to see at the CoreTech Brokers 2014 Kickoff meeting this week in Tempe, Ariz. Instead, it was a room full of partners who collaborate with each other to cultivate leads and close business.
More than a dozen partners attended the event for the new CoreTech Brokers program, launched by master agency Concierge Core Services, in summer 2013. While Concierge still runs a traditional master agency, it has created the CoreTech Brokers brand for exclusive agents.
That exclusivity is the foundation of a collaborative community environment, according to Concierge CEO Clark Atwood. The collaborative environment is enabled by systems and tools.
In one example, a Minnesota-based agent asked fellow CoreTech Brokers for a reference customer for a certain provider that he had not quoted before. Several responses came through, including one from another broker in his own backyard. Under different circumstances, a referral from an in-market competitor is highly unlikely.
Since the summer launch, CoreTech Brokers has recruited 36 members — 12 of which have graduated the training programs. While not a certification program, the sales-skills training includes seven sections — each with six to 10 short courses averaging 11-12 minutes. Quizzes as well as milestone activities, e.g. developing a prospect list, are required. Interestingly, the activities are reviewed by peer mentors and both partiers are compensated for joint go-to-market wins. Most partners complete the training in four to eight weeks, said John Muhlestein, CoreTech's broker development manager.
Muhlestein joined Concierge in October 2012 to help create a program that would mirror similar ones he developed in the financial and insurance industries to create a more effective sales and marketing machine.
CoreTech Brokers, for example, has a customer-facing website that uniquely lists all of the member brokers, including specialties, training and performance achievements. Atwood said some brokers are dropping their own websites to use this page as their calling card. Concierge markets this site to end users, and tracks statistics to modify marketing methods.
In addition, the group is planning a pilot test for outsourced high-touch appointment setting service to bring more qualified leads to its members.
And, at the Kickoff meeting, Concierge announced the launch of TARG (Target Account Research Genus), which is a database of midmarket companies just for CoreTech Brokers. Brokers and/or Concierge personnel will be assigned to work these accounts, updating the information about the company, including mining social media information for contacts. With LinkedIn and other social networking sites, Atwood said, it's often common to find that you know someone who knows someone who knows someone at the target company.
Once in the door, CoreTech Brokers have access to marketing material and a "discovery system" that enables them to uncover client needs. In addition to a range of technology solutions, they also can offer clients subscription access to the cloud-based Effective Client Management System (ECMS), which manages multiple providers over multiple locations.