Broker Check

With a Little Coaching, Clients Can Be Strong Centers of Influence

November 18, 2019

We all wish our clients would evangelize. We want them to go throughout the known world, telling our story and sending us clients. 

We think of centers of influence (COIs) as people who are sought out by others for their advice. Remember that line from Fiddler on the Roof?  “When you’re rich, they think you really know?”  Can clients become centers of influence and effectively tell your story?

The simple answer is yes, but in the right circumstances. It’s difficult to take an everyday person and turn them into an effective influencer on social media alone, because micro-influencers, probably the lowest rung on the social media ladder, can have 10,000 to 50,000 followers. That number goes up from there.

But there are circumstances when your clients can be power COIs for your practice.

Some clients, soft spoken or outgoing, may have subject matter expertise or life experience that makes them influencers in their social circle.  When certain people who don’t have a vested interest in selling you a product offer advice, people listen. For instance, if you ask your friend, a knowledgeable wine connoisseur, for a recommendation on what champagne to serve at a bridal shower, you would likely follow their advice.

Your friend is also in the position to say to you, “I hear you’re having a bridal shower and want a champagne that will impress your guests. Here’s what I served at our daughter’s bridal shower …” Because of their expertise, they’re able to offer credible advice when they see an opportunity.

Position Clients to Offer a Recommendation
Good clients want you to succeed, but they can sometimes go overboard. If they are too enthusiastic, people may wonder if they are getting paid a finder’s fee. So, use this sensible approach when coaching them on how to recommend your business.

You want clients to be able to spot an opportunity and take an action that’s in their comfort zone.  You don’t want them fielding technical questions they can’t answer, or worse, answering them incorrectly.

Start by reminding them how you helped them through a specific situation. Maybe there was a time that you eased their concerns when they were jittery about volatility in the stock market.  Or perhaps you put a plan into place that assured them their spouse would be taken care of financially if they were to die first.

Next, suggest what they might say and show them where that might lead. Remember, you are coaching your client, not handing them a script. That could be disastrous! Logically, you want the person with a need sitting across from you. Then you can gather information pertinent to their situation, put them at ease and setup a future meeting. So, suggest your client offer to introduce their friend to you over drinks or a meal. Of course, you would be picking up the check.

The Three Step Strategy
This simple strategy has three steps – problem, solution and action. Here’s how it might go: The stock market had one of those down 800-point days, leaving your client’s friend feeling anxious and wondering what to do – something they do often.

Your client observes a problem that’s also an opportunity. So, they say to their friend something like, “I realize you’re worried about the ups and downs of the stock market.  I was too.” 

Then they offer the solution by saying “Fortunately, I have a great financial advisor (you) at (your firm). Anytime I get anxious, she puts things into perspective and keeps me focused on the long term. She’s even shown me opportunities other people may be missing.” 

When it’s time for action, your client then should say something like, “My advisor has talked about having lunch with me next week. She said I could bring a friend.  Why don’t you come along? I think you would enjoy meeting her.”

Could your client have a conversation like that without leaving their comfort zone? Probably.

Another Example
Let’s think about that client who is worried their spouse, who doesn’t run the family finances, will be adrift if the breadwinner passes away first. This can be a serious concern for older couples.

Your client is talking with a friend over drinks. They have a medical condition. This concern is weighing on their mind. Your client sees the problem and says, “John, I know you are concerned who will look after Emma if something happens to you. I’ve had the same concern about my wife, Eleanor.”

Now your client introduces the solution. “Fortunately, we have a good financial advisor at (your firm). His name is Harry. He knows this is very important to me. Eleanor likes Harry.  Harry likes Eleanor. I know if anything were to happen to me, Eleanor’s finances would be in good hands.”

Then it’s time for the action step. It’s almost identical to the previous example. “Harry wants to get together for coffee later this week. He needs some papers signed. Why don’t you come along? I think you would enjoy meeting Harry.”

The question isn’t if you can turn your client into a COI. Your client may already be one and not even know it. When they spot a problem and speak about a solution based on personal experience, they can make a compelling and credible case for your services.

I always enjoy sharing ideas with other advisors. If you would like to learn more about ways to create effective centers of influence, give me a call today.

Article provided by Dunham & Associates.