Many advisors voice frustration at their client acquisition results from Center Of Influence (COI) partners. It seems they have many COIs in place, yet they aren't seeing referrals coming in. Advisors tend to get disappointed with the lack of referrals and give up. When we take a deeper look at the root of the issue, often there is a common theme: The COI has been on autopilot
Many Center of Influence relationships
start out with the best of intentions. You have common goals, you discuss what you’re looking for, and then hope for the best. The problem is, life gets in the way. But there’s more than just an initial conversation to make a COI relationship reciprocal.
- Relationships. Establishing a strong and mutually beneficial relationship is key. Professionals are not likely to recommend other professionals that they don’t personally like and work with themselves. This can be a huge key to success. The COI could have lots of clients that may benefit from your services, but if the COI doesn’t have a personal connection with you, they aren’t going to be likely to think of you.
- Articulate your value. COIs need to have knowledge of what you do and how you can help their clients. Often times, advisors skip over this important step because it’s assumed that professionals understand the value an advisor brings to a client--but they don’t, and it’s your job to train them on that value and what makes you the best choice for their client. If they don’t understand your specific value, they can’t identify an ideal client, and certainly can’t articulate why that client should talk to you.
- Create a service model for your COIs. “You mean I have to service my COIs??” Yes! Out of sight, out of mind! Regular contact is key. Set expectations for referral sharing, but also frequency of meeting. Consider a healthy balance of educational meetings to train your COIs on your value, social meetings to develop your relationship, and client events to broaden their knowledge of your business. Also, be sure to create a reporting system to ensure proper follow up on all referrals received.
The bottom line
COI marketing is a great, low cost method of attracting target clients, but if you’re not willing to properly pilot the relationship, you may find yourself in a COI emergency!