DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE

FORGE

Here's the challenge with networking - it takes time to see some results from it. Why? Because the concept of attending an event with a pocket full of business cards and an outgoing attitude hoping you're going to meet the perfect connections who are going to be your customer, hire you, or mentor you is dated. FORGE is to networking like what online-dating did to the age-old exercise of finding a significant other.

Thirty years ago, many people would look for their spouse by attending a social event, a bar, or even the grocery store in hopes that if they go where their prospective matches are, they will have that serendipitous encounter that will have them meet their soulmate. This practice lead to a significant investment of time, enduring countless false-starts, and a lot of rejection with limited success. Online dating or other electronic match-making became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s because singles could sit back and have their top matches introduced to them, narrowing the pool of 'candidates' and increasing the chance of 'success'.

Don't get us wrong, we absolutely believe in the value of networking - our business was built on this! But FORGE is a quite simply better mousetrap. Our team knows each one of our 2,000 or so members better than any one member can know everyone else. That makes us the perfect match-maker, helping connect members to each other with the greatest chance of success.

How It Works

  1. Join FORGE by purchasing a TEN + FORGE Membership, a $1495 investment
  2. Our team will complete our proprietary onboarding to learn who your customers are
  3. We develop new sales opportunities for you and introduce prospects once qualified
  4. You meet the qualified prospect, negotiate price & terms, and close the deal
  5. Once a transaction is completed, we will charge you our commission
  6. We get back to work to find you more customers

Pure and simple, we know that you have tried numerous marketing campaigns, sales efforts and tradeshows to grow your business and you never know if you will see the return on investment. If you've tried 'it all' and what to join an accountable, results-oriented program that will drive new business to you, TEN FORGE is only choice.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

There are many different business networking organizations in Winnipeg, such as BNI, The Metro Club, Winnipeg Executive Association, and others. FORGE is different, because it provides a Active approach to developing your business, versus the Passive way referral-based organizations operate. Here's why that is a big deal:

Referrals work when one party who knows you or has used your services recommend you to someone else they think could use your product or service. The challenge is the person referring the referral already has a job and they are not thinking of your business as often as you are thinking of your business. Think about that for a moment - if the referrer happens to be talking to someone and that person happens to bring up a need or a challenge that the referrer thinks you can help with they may remember to talk to you about it. And because the referral isn't qualified, there is a good chance that the potential customer the referrer is telling you about does not have a budget or a timeline, or their need doesn't exactly match with what your business does. All parties have now invested time for an outcome that is rarely satisfying to any of the parties.

If you are in an industry that is a little more complex than others, you will find you have less success in getting a qualified opportunity than those who are in an industry that are within the general realm of understanding, ie: a real estate agent or a lawyer. That is how many referral-based organizations work - they work for some businesses, but not for everyone and certainly not with a great degree of success in terms of the Return on Time Invested - the time you put into attending the meetings, or following up on erroneous leads.

Think of this a different way - how often do your existing customers provide you a referral? It's not because they are dissatisfied with your work but because they have their own jobs to do, leaving little time to work for your business.

So what is the answer? FORGE is an active approach to growing your business because it is our job to work for you. TEN knows over 2,000 different businesses and decision-makers in the Winnipeg marketplace and employs a proprietary match-making system to help the FORGE team identify prospective customers, and the relationship with these businesses to approach them and with your product or service on a targeted basis to create awareness and find you customers.

It may not sound like a big difference, but it is - it's the difference between the occasional, unqualified lead coming from a group of people you spend a lot of time with, or having a team look for qualified deals on a regular basis regardless of the amount of time you invest in attending events.

A better return on time invested? Absolutely. Not to mention the return on money invested - if you aren't getting results, TEN will refund you half of your dues. What is your downside?

Prospective members are sometimes skeptical: how will TEN, an organization who knows little about their business be able to find them customers when they struggle to do the same as an expert in their field?

Our response: what problem do you solve for your customers? The difference with TEN is that in a typical sales process, you, the Vendor, are on the 'outside' trying to get 'in'. You know your prospective customer has a problem that you can solve but the prospect isn't forthcoming with information such as budget, timeline or other vital details to help you help them. Sound familiar?

This happens because clients are often uncomfortable buying anything because they are worried they will make a mistake. That is why customers ask for references - they know that the 3 names you give them are examples of the best possible outcomes of working with you, but they just want to be reassured by someone other than you that it's OK to make the investment.

TEN already has rapport and trust with our members; we are on the inside - somewhere that it will take you, the Vendor, a long time to get to, if ever. We work for the Client as well, and our results for them have earned us this trust. We can have conversations about the challenges the Client faces in their businesses and collect information on needs that they have, and engage the appropriate vendors to solve those problems. Inevitably you will be that vendor among a number of our clients.

This is why TEN FORGE works better than the traditional business development strategy - you are trying to find customers who have the problem you solve, whereas we know our clients intimately and can bring the right vendors to the table as the client's trusted business advisor.

Match this with our proprietary match-making software system and we can scour our database of members and contacts for prospects that you can help, delivering you qualified prospects that are ready to do business with you.

Possibly our most asked question - how much commission do we charge on a transaction? So let's get right to it - 10% is the most common commission we charge. The commission structure can vary based on your industry (see the next question for details), as we know that not every business can pay 10% of each sale.

Why 10%? Every business, literally every business has a cost of client acquisition, which means that it costs a business something to bring in each new customer: a retail store will advertise to bring people through the door, and pay clerks to assist shoppers in their buying decisions. A car dealership advertises on a variety of mediums and pays a commissioned sales representative to close the deal, or an IT company will pay a sales person a base salary plus commission to bring in a new customer. If you add up all of the money you spend on marketing, advertising and sales people over the course of a year and divide that by the amount of new revenue from new customers you generated, you will get your cost of client acquisition. You will find that this number is at least 10% in most cases, because acquiring new business is expensive.

Some prospective FORGE members have made the mistake of thinking they will need to charge their customers through FORGE an additional 10% for their product or service to make up for the commission they pay to TEN. But they must consider the math: every business has a Gross Margin - the difference between what it costs to produce or deliver a product or service and what they sell it for.

In some cases, it is easy to determine this because there is a direct costs to the product or service such as in the example of clothing retailer: they will purchase a garment at $50 from their distributors and sell it for $100. If they sell 10 garments or 100 garments, their Gross Margin stays the same, and the Gross Profit goes to cover costs such as staff, facilities and other overhead. When TEN helps the retailer sell garments, even if the retailer has to pay a 10% commission, or $10 off of each garment they TEN sells on their behalf, they are still receiving $40 they did not have before, and turning inventory.

In another example where a business operates on a basis of maximizing the utilization of its resources, such as an accounting firm, the business has a fixed costs - their employees - whether they are generating revenue or not. In a consulting business, such as this accounting firm, their 'inventory' expires every hour - the business can't go back to yesterday and bill for hours worked after the day is over. So for TEN to bring in new clients with billable hours, the accounting firm can receive a benefit of, say $150 per hour where the staff were not otherwise billing and such happy to pay $15 for each billable hour TEN brings them, as they are still left with a $135 they did not have before to offset their fixed overhead costs of staff, facilities, etc.

In businesses where there is a product and service delivered, such as in the case of an Electrician, the benefit does not change the incremental Gross Profit TEN provides the customer can easily pay the commission rate, leaving more money on the Electrician's bottom line.

At the outset, it may seem like FORGE would not work, based on the way businesses are compensated or the margins in a product or service. Here are a couple examples of how we can accommodate different industries:

  • B2B/B2C Service Provider, Wholesaler or Retailer: In an industry where there is a product or service for sale for a price and a defined Cost-of-Goods-Sold for the item being sold - which encompasses 90% of our members - we will charge our commission on the gross sale. In the case where gross margins are very small, there is some flexibility on the commission rate (see the Travel Agency, for example), where we will sometimes take a larger commission but only on the gross margin
  • Travel Agency: We understand that the margins are slim on travel bookings, so we charge our commission on only a travel agency's gross revenue (their commission), rather than the gross sale
  • Real Estate Agent / Broker: In Manitoba, REALTORS® cannot pay a commission to someone that is not a licensed REALTOR®, so rather than working on a commission basis, a REALTOR® may provide us with a fixed referral fee in the way of a non-cash tender, such as a gift card. This is a practice many REALTORS® use to incentivize clients to list or buy through them, or as appreciation for referrals today
  • Bank / Financial Institutions: Rather than a commission, banking or financial institutions simply pay an incremental amount on their renewal for the amount of business volume (accounts, loans, etc) they are provided through the TEN FORGE program
  • Lawyer / Law Firm: Similar to the structure in place for a bank or financial institution, lawyer or law firm members simply pay an incremental amount on their renewal for the amount of business volume they are provided through the TEN FORGE program
  • Mortgage Broker / Commissioned Representative: In the case of a mortgage broker or other commissioned representative (insurance broker, investment advisor, manufacturer representative, etc), the commission is charged off of the gross commission, rather than gross volume of the transaction
  • Dealership / Home Builder: Margins can be tight and sales can be complicated in a dealership (car, truck, boat, motorsport, RV, mobile home, etc) or Home Builder, plus the sheer transaction size for a dealership or home builder can be significant, so paying out a percentage of the gross sale does not always make sense. The most popular arrangement with these types of businesses is a fixed commission fee that varies based on a range of purchase size. For example, if a vehicle purchased is $10,000 - $20,000 one fee is paid, whereas a $20,000 - $30,000 vehicle will provide a slightly higher fixed-fee commission to TEN. The cost of this fee is often the burden of the sales representative at the dealership or home builder, either in all or in part.
  • Manufacturer / Distributor: TEN has been requested to help our members generate long-term relationships with retailers or other distribution partners at a wholesale level, which would not allow for our traditional commission structure due to cost competitiveness. In these situations, TEN will offer a reduced commission rate depending on the length of contract, expected volume / order size, etc - contact us to discuss the options.

If you have specific questions on how we could work with you in your industry, please don't hesitate to contact us.

How quickly you see results depends on a variety of factors: how niche your product or services is, the seasonality of your product and service, and general economic conditions. To date, we have been able to bring our members at least one new qualified prospect within the first 30 days of participating in the program.

Our proprietary onboarding process helps us identify members who have needs in your industry, which should bring some opportunities to you right away, while our intimate knowledge of each of our members' businesses will help us target new prospective customers in no time.

In a word, possibly.

This is a question we receive from many of our members and prospective members, because many business networking groups provide exclusivity for one member in a particular industry. TEN FORGE isn't just for the benefit of sellers, it is also there to help buyers find vendors who can meet their needs, and many customers want choices. In a situation where there are multiple potential vendors, it is our job to understand the client's needs, and each of our members differentiators and put forward the best option, or options, for the customer. Then it is up to you to work your magic and win the customer over - may the best relationship win!

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