COIs have the ability to exponentially increase your influence and your sales.
In this episode we explore how to establish and nurture successful COI relationships with a guest who does not live in the distribution “fish bowl”.
Bill Walton brings over 20 years of experience as a sales coach, facilitator and author to his clients. He has worked extensively in the Financial Services, Energy and Travel and Transportation industries with a deep background in working with salespeople, sales managers and c-suite executives. His clients include Bank of America, Direct Energy and Avis Budget Group to name a few.
Bill has particular coaching and training expertise in Sales, Sales Management, and Sales Process Design. Bill publishes the Value Creation Sales Blog and is a featured guest on CNN. He is an adjunct speaker at The Wharton School of Executive Education and a featured contributor to Human Resource Executive Magazine. Bill also actively participants in the Professional Society of Sales and Marketing Trainers, Sales and Marketing Executives International, and the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group.
Book Bill for your next event through Wholesaler Masterminds Speakers Bureau.
Pick up a copy of Bill’s book Taming the Four-Headed Dragon: A Must-Have Guide for Financial Advisors.
Attracting and Retaining Coveted COIs – A Value Creation Journey
In financial and professional services, your client and professional advocates (centers of influence) are incredibly important to the practice health of the advisors you call on. While everyone would agree COIs can be as important as an advisor or client itself, most go about attracting additional sources all wrong.
Much of what we see among financial professionals is that they do their prospecting on a limited time budget. That’s reality. But what this is driving is a transactional approach to attracting coveted referral and introduction sources. In short, we see too much of a “take” mindset vs. a “give” mindset in networking. For wholesalers trying to work higher into the field management structure of major firms, this has to be more of a giving game.
A Giving Hand is Always Full™
Renowned Bill Walton Sales Training sales coach and author John Orvos, speaks to this concept. John is fond of saying “a giving hand is always full”. So when thinking about gaining more COIs in business, it’s about balancing two buckets – a give bucket and a take bucket. Managing your give bucket is about what you can offer COIs in terms of insights and tools to support their advisors. Your take bucket holds what you can realistically ask of COIs, namely referrals and support for your business once earned. But this requires two shifts:
- From showing reports and ratings, to sharing insights
- From presenting what you’ve got, to revealing what you’re seeing
It’s also important to note that there are two dimensions of time between you and your COI – time together and time apart. Face it, you are apart more than together so it’s important to drip on your COIs to let them know what you’re up to and to provide valuable insights for their business. For your time together – you have to be prepared with a crisp agenda as the average meeting with a senior COI can last as little as 10 minutes.
Let’s take a look at a few other important COI considerations:
Region Management/Complex Directors:
Senior region management of the large advisor firms are looking for ideas on how to attract and manage their best talent and run a profitable operation. If you want to play higher in their strategic plans you have to come with ideas for their people. Help them with ideas for female investors, how to arrive at the right “mix of business” goals for their teams, or source the latest training for junior associates on teams as they segue to top producing roles.
Another area to engage senior region leaders is in the area of client types. Too many advisors are faced with massive procrastination on the part of prospects. Often it’s due to the fact that prospects are presented with too much information too soon that drives little or no engagement in their problem or circumstance. Prospects love to hear their name in lights, meaning that they want to feel that an advisor understands their situation uniquely.
Here are a few quick tips on how to help advisors do just that:
C = Client Type: The “C” is a specific client type a prospect falls into based on the source of their wealth – created or inherited. Think a retired CFO, landowner or serial entrepreneur. This client type reveals what’s important to this person and those like him or her.
P = Problem: The “P” is about the problems or uniqueness of a prospect situation. While every prospect’s situation is different, there are identifiable patterns of interest based on what the affluent do and how they interact with their wealth. By acknowledging the prospect’s relevant issues or aspirations and by getting him or her to open up about them, it serves to drive greater engagement and to minimize procrastination.
S = Solution: The “S” is about offering up several options based on what you learned in your problem discussion. Note that it’s not one solution, but a series of two to
three intelligent recommendations based on your firm’s history with this client type and what you’re pre-call research revealed. Again, the emphasis is on engagement.
Help their advisors find more COIs
One of the best ways to get past gatekeepers and hold a senior COI attention is to adopt an advisor lens. Many advisors have an established COI network, but have developed it based on trial and error. Today every block of an advisors time has to count. Here are some tips to help your advisors better connect with their COIs:
- Attorneys make money on transactions and the billable hours that result from them.
- Be attuned to transactions associated with the risks and business issues your firm can address.
- Attorneys need help prospecting – they don’t like to take time away from billable hours. Help them be successful.
- Financial planners (and most COIs) value your ability to provide expertise to their clients.
- They’re in the planning business – focused on future events. You’re in the same business!
Real Estate Professionals:
- Realtors value those moving into certain neighborhoods, neighborhoods where your ideal prospects reside.
- Be a net giver, tap into that information and get to know who’s moving in and out of the community.
So here are five proven tips to attract and retain the best centers of influence for your practice and those of an advisor:
- Ensure that you can identify with the COI’s business model. If you can’t get excited about their business, you will have very little to give in terms of insights, support, and ultimately referrals. Give them actionable ideas on how their advisors can do more in less time. Region leadership needs growth!
- Find a link between your value prop and theirs. Every one of your COIs, whether they be gatekeepers, real estate professionals, financial planners or lawyers all have a value prop for their business. While some are better than others, find the connection between how you both go to market. There’s bound to be a connection there for you. Coach your advisors how to tell their firm’s story, and their own.
- Be their number one referrer. Make sure that you have a referral mindset – A “giving hand is always full”. Be on the lookout for an advisor’s ideal client type.
- Support the networking events or social gatherings of your COI. The Woody Allen rule works in this case – there is high value in showing up. Put COIs on the mailing list for your events, functions and key conferences. Ensure you are on theirs!
- Share helpful insights that they can use to grow their business. Always update them on new developments in the industry that affect them, as well as what’s happening in yours. Complex directors need to develop their teams. So provide corner office support in a way that’s consistent with their team evolution.
The wholesaler’s primary function has shifted from salesperson to true thinking partner. Bringing value-added ideas to not only advisors, but gatekeepers and region leadership will be essential for maintaining coveted relationships.
Wholesalers who make the effort to provide valuable client insights, to share synthesized reporting and to respond credibly to requests and client needs are far more likely to succeed that those working to pitch the latest product.
Written by Bill Walton