Why You Must Date Your COIs to Earn Referrals

Have you heard of the show Married at First Sight? The premise is that “experts” set up arranged marriages and the couples meet at the altar. Then for 8 weeks they must figure out whether they want to build a life with this person or get a divorce.

And only 6 of 25 couples have remained together for any amount of time. Not a high success rate.

I don’t know about you, but before my husband asked me to marry him, we dated. We get to know each other’s interests, values, dreams, goals and quirks.

We’ve been married for decades…beating many of the traditional odds.

Building a Relationship with COIs Takes Time Too

So, if building a good relationship takes time, why do so many advisors expect that they can meet a Center of Influence or COI and walk out with referrals or the promise of them?

To build a viable referral relationship takes time, effort, consistent nurturing, and follow-up!

Let’s talk about building those relationships… instead of a meeting where you plan how to explain what you do so well that they just can’t wait to refer to you…remember:
1. There is a cost to them referring to you. They risk their reputation and relationships by making a referral. If the connection to you doesn’t turn out well – it’s a ding for them.
2. Most good COIs have a lot of the same requests – and deciphering why you’re the one who should get referrals isn’t high on their To Do list.

Treat Your COI Conversation as a Sales Opportunity

Use good “selling practices” such as:
1. Set a clear expectation of time and topic for your conversation.
2. Make everything about What’s in it for Them.
3. Seek to understand their business and the problems, opportunities, wants, and needs they have in growing their own business.
4. Ask questions that show you are interested in their business:
a. What’s your biggest challenge in your business/role?
b. What are the areas you wish you had time for?
c. What do you want to do for your clients/parents/customers that you never have time for?
5. Be ready with a suggestion or two for next steps. How can you offer assistance to them? Joint events? Referrals back to them (an estate attorney recently told me he has 8-10 FAs a month contact him, but he has one he regularly refers to – the man who told him he will bring him x number of referrals a month. And who has events where he invites the attorney to meet with his clients and prospects.)

What can you give? Your appreciation is one thing -but how you can help them in some way?

So don’t try the “Referrals At First Sight” method…set yourself up to successfully “date” your COIs and set up a long-lasting, productive, reciprocal relationship.

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