Broker Check

Start With the Right Approach to Build Effective Centers of Influence

June 01, 2018

Centers of influence (COI) are one of the best ways to grow assets, but to be effective, they must be identified and approached correctly. Unfortunately, most advisors don’t identify all their potential COI.

Advisors often think of obvious COI, such as attorneys and CPAs. These are logical choices because they’re also trusted advisors. There’s a huge opportunity to benefit from other less obvious choices, but first they need to be identified.

To develop a list of additional COI, imagine you’re starting a new company. To be successful, you need a board of directors of about seven to 10 members. Think of people whose opinions and advice you would value and appreciate. They can be anyone outside the financial services industry and include individuals who aren’t clients. In fact, some of the best COI don’t start out working with the advisor.

Now that you’ve identified potential COI, you’ll need to set up a meeting. They’ll need to understand specifically why you want to meet with them. Remember, this meeting is all about you and not them. If you take a client to lunch, and they don’t know why you’re meeting, they won’t be prepared. In fact, they could be thrown off guard, since they’ll expect to discuss their portfolio. If you’re meeting with nonclients, they’ll need to understand this is an official meeting, and you’re seeking their input.

If the COI is not a client, you’ll need to decide if you want to make them a client first, or if you just want to leverage their influence. You can’t do both simultaneously. If a COI has substantial assets, it will take six months to two years to close. Most advisors would rather leverage the COI since it takes so long to close prospects. If you develop the COI properly, they could eventually become a client.

You’ll need to meet with one COI per week. Because of cancellations, most advisors will meet with three per month. But the more meetings you consistently hold, the better results you’ll have.

This is an ongoing relationship building process. The more your COI respect you, the easier it will be for them to refer you. The goal is to continually meet with and speak with your COI. Start with a phone call every four to six weeks.

The old adage, “Out of sight, Out of mind” is true. Face time is important when building these professional relationships, so plan to meet your COI in person at least once per quarter.

Not all COI will work out. It’s often easy to identify which ones will not. Those who don’t take or return your calls or don’t meet with you again probably will not become a COI.

From a pool of 10 candidates, you should get two or three who will refer you to clients. Any prospects your COI refer you to may also become COI themselves. COI development is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t get impatient. Follow your plan. Be proactive.

For more ways to effectively build relationships with Centers of Influence, contact Iron Point for a no-obligation coaching call.