Centres of Influence (COI’s) are key people within the target client segment that you need to penetrate. The COI is typically a trusted advisor of your target client.
If executed correctly, COI’s introduce you to clients with whom you’d like to do business.
The goal is to discuss how you work with their clients and how you bring value to their efforts to build, protect and manage the business of these clients.
Defining digital: Collect customer feedback, refine faster (Bain & co)
Why then do many COI strategies fail to deliver? Here are three key barriers to your COI strategy delivering the anticipated results:
1. Appreciate the differences between COI-referrals and Client-referrals:
A COI referral strategy is different to a client referral strategy. Client’s generally randomly come into contact with your target prospect; in contrast, the correct COI’s deal with your target clients on a regular basis. The COI’s advice is also sought on a regular basis by the prospective clients, making their referral a powerful proposition.
2. Understand the key motivators for COI’s to refer you:
The motivation that drives a COI to introduce their client to you varies and needs to be understood. The COI usually is a professional who will not risk making a connection unless you fulfill their key drivers.
3. Expecting reciprocity from the COI:
How often is the following comment from a business owner stated: “I have referred my best clients to the law firm partner, but I have not received any referrals in return”.
We make a fundamental mistake in attempting or expecting automatic reciprocity from our COI.
So how do we execute a COI strategy?
We need to define to the COI’s that we would like to engage with great clarity. We should treat them like any other prospective market segment and develop a value proposition for each such COI group. We then, need to develop and execute specific marketing and sales initiatives, focused on them.
Most importantly we need to:
- invest in educating the COI’s using insights both from within your own sphere of expertise and from your network, and
- have a genuine interest in growing the COI’s business.