Most financial advisors work to develop relationships with other professionals (COIs-centers of influence) to generate more referral opportunities. Ironically, one of the most frequent complaints we hear from advisors is that their relationships with other professionals (ie. CPAs, Estate Attorneys, Bankers, Insurance, etc.) tend to be one-sided. They give referrals to other people while seeing very little in return.
If you want to finally heat things up with your COIs, consider really applying the HEAT!
H = Have Criteria
Stop settling for anyone with a title that matches who you think should be giving you referrals. A title means nothing … it’s the person behind the title that really matters. Write down your criteria for the people you want to invest in from the time, energy and referral perspective. What qualities do referrals need to see in these professionals? Once you have this list created, then you know your benchmarks when searching for the right people to be your key COIs. It’s worth it to ensure you’re working with the right people.
E = Expect More
In the same fashion, take some time to write out your expectations for your COIs. What do you expect from this relationship? How often will you see each other? What types of referrals are you expecting and how many throughout the year? What do you expect when it comes to how they treat your clients and the referral process? All of this needs to be thought out and shared with your COIs. They need to know what’s expected of them before you begin working together. And in the spirit of teamwork, ask your COIs to share their expectations with you as well. Then, you’ll be on the same sheet of music from the beginning!
A = Analyze Relationships
How often do you discuss the productivity of the relationship with your COIs? So many advisors talk to everyone else about their unproductive relationships and never include the people that really matter. It’s good practice to discuss the relationship twice a year to see if everyone is happy and feeling fulfilled. It’s bad practice to assume that both parties are content when in some cases, one party is frustrated. Open the door to communication and build reciprocal relationships.
T = Tell the Truth
Keeping things transparent between referral partners always adds to the quality of the relationship. Tell the truth. If something has gone wrong, be honest about it. If you are not able to give attention to your COI, be transparent so they avoid feeling unloved and ignored. If you’re not happy with how things are going in the relationship be clear about what you need. Truth and transparency build trust.
Heat in the summer is to be expected and because it’s expected you can prepare for it. HEAT in a COI relationship should be expected and needs to be prepared ahead of time in order for your relationships to flourish in reciprocity, trust, and credibility. Eventually, this will lead you to your ultimate goal of generating new business from your relationships with other business professionals.