Are you frustrated or have you abandoned your efforts towards COI (Center of Influence) outreach?

I hope not. Too many advisors have.

They’ve talked to person after person and received ZERO referrals. Maybe they’ve even made some referrals of their own and yet haven’t received any in return.

Why Have COI Relationships?

I get the frustration. Really get it.

And yet there is a reason why so many advisors have Center of Influence referrals and outreach as a key part of their led gen strategy: Because it works.

Other professionals who serve the same people you do, and who can identify a gap that you can fill, are a powerful connection to get a very warm prospect coming your way.

So then, what gets in the way of this being a productive relationship? What leads to all that frustration around COIs?

There are two major types of problems and they both revolve around mindset.

COI Mindset Obstacle #1: Expectations

The first mindset obstacle is expectations—your expectations that is.

What is it that you expect is going to happen after one, maybe two, conversations with someone? What do you think you’ve earned the right to get from them?

Remember, you are essentially asking them to risk their reputation and put in time and effort to identify that there is somebody that they are in connection with who needs what you have. And then to make that introduction in a way that is helpful. That’s a big ask! They are busy.

Productive Center of Influence relationships take time and effort. We have to earn to the right for them to look for the opportunity to make those referrals.

We also have to earn their trust and confidence in us to take the actions necessary to make a good referral.

If we can align our expectations with the reality that it’s going to take time and effort to earn that right, we’ll have less frustration. And we’re going to continue to build that strong, productive relationship.

COI Mindset Obstacle #2: What Is a COI Relationship?

The second mindset is in understanding what a COI relationship is.

Fundamentally, it’s a sale that you need to make. A “sale” is any conversation where the objective is for the other party to make a commitment or take an action. And that’s what we’re looking for that COI to do: Make a commitment to look for opportunities and then actively make the connection.

When we think about COI relationships as a sale and stage it within our pipeline we can gain some key points of clarity, such as:

  • Where is this “prospect” (COI) in the pipeline? What specific commitments or actions have they made?
  • How many times have you talked with them?
  • What is the next step and the date of who’s doing what?

When you map out those key points for COI relationships/contacts, you will see how productive you’ve been in developing those relationships.

  • Who are the people that have been qualified to be a good COI?
  • Who has shown real engagement or commitment?
  • Who understands the people you can help? The value that you bring?

Not all COIs can refer prospects. But that doesn’t mean they can’t connect you to others in your lead gen efforts. Maybe they can make a referral into an association, or refer you to other colleagues who are a better fit because they’re working with the same people you are.

Please keep in mind that thinking about the relationship from the mindset that it’s a sale, means that it’s not just about you. You have to look for ways to give value to them.

  • What’s in it for them to make those referrals?
  • What’s in it for them to have that ongoing relationship with you?
  • Where do you each bring value to the other besides just the referrals?

When you change your mindset around COIs to align expectations that these COI relationships are going to take time and effort, you won’t be as frustrated or as likely to abandon ongoing outreach. And that’s when you’ll have more success in your Center of Influence outreach.


Financial Advisor sales training doesn’t have to focus on pushy tactics or high-pressure pitches. Genuine Sales teaches the fundamentals for sales success that allow you to be genuine, ethical, and successful!