Building relationships with Centers of Influence such as attorneys and CPAs can be a wonderful way for financial advisors and planners to receive referrals. But just like any other marketing strategy, it requires thoughtfulness and diligence.
Here are six mistakes you should avoid when engaging with COIs.
- Assuming that the COIs’ primary focus is to build their businesses. Many advisors lead off by talking about how they can help each other grow their business. It’s like talking about marriage on a first date. Developing relationships with COIs is much like developing any other relationship – you have to begin by getting to know each other
- Not asking about the COI’s business and the clients they serve. Unless you ask, how will you know of this particular COI will be the best fit for your clients? And unless you ask, how will the COI know that serving clients well is your top priority?
- Not clearly communicating your own value proposition. Without clarity on what you do, many COIs will stereotype you as focusing only on investments, and they probably have no idea how you do that. So why would they take on the potential risk to their clients and their own reputation by referring someone to you?
- Not participating in your clients’ meetings with the COI. One estate planning attorney recently commented that she was amazed that so few financial advisors come to meetings she has with their clients. She believes that they are missing a great opportunity to facilitate, collaborate and demonstrate their value to their clients and to her!
- Making the relationship only about referrals. The best relationships with COIs are collaborative. Working together for a common goal – such as a workshop, or a civic or charitable event, or as part of an organization to support a common cause – will enable you to grow that relationship into a real partnership.
- Not putting together a joint business or marketing plan. If you’re going to work together, why not design a business and marketing plan that outlines what you want to do, how you plan to do it, and specific milestones and next steps.
In order to avoid making these mistakes, place yourself in the shoes of the COI and remind yourself what they want.