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Ask Yourself These 12 Questions To Uncover Your Best COIs

By Ray Sclafani | March 27, 2015

7251474254_e1e1081dd9_mYour client advocate and professional advocate relationships, or centers of influence, are incredibly important for the success of your business. As a seasoned advisor once told me: “Your referrals are as valuable to your business as your clients, if not more so.” I would add to that, that your client advocate and professional advocate relationships are only as valuable as you allow them to be, through the knowledge and understanding you provide them of your business.

The ClientWise Conversation is crucial because it facilitates a give and take that creates trust in the relationship between advisor and client or advisor and referral source. This trust will only be facilitated by someone else acting on your behalf if they have a strong belief in your business, along with the knowledge to back up that belief.


Are your advocacy partners or centers of influence prepared to present you in the best light? Ask yourself the questions below about your best referral sources, whether client advocate or professional advocate relationship. Keep in mind that not all of these need to be accounted for. The idea is that running through the list of questions should give you a better idea of how to improve your advocacy relationships, both from your standpoint and theirs:


1)   Do they know your unique value proposition as well as you do, or can they recite your elevator pitch in a way that is meaningful to those listening?

2)   Do they understand the experience of working with you, either through doing so themselves or working closely with you or someone who has?

3)   Have they witnessed you work through a challenge or failure to attest to your ability to negotiate with clients or others in difficult situations?

4)   If asked, would they vouch for your credibility when compared with the other advisors in your network?

5)  Have they had the opportunity to clearly understand your process as it relates to delivering on the promises you make to clients?

6 )   Do they understand your experience and process as they relate to other advisors, and can they attest to the difference in your services from other advisors?

7)   Can they account for your general credibility as a partner to others in a variety of situations unrelated to money?

8)   Do they understand how you work with people other than you to build a network of resources for their clients?

9)   Have they witnessed you working with members of your team to learn how you are informing the future vision of your company through succession planning?

10)  Can they attest to the longevity and sustainability of that future vision?

11)  Do you have a plan in place that allows you to maintain this referral relationship?

12)  Do both parties understand how the process and the plan that supports it are mutually beneficial?


These last two are especially important. The best center of influence and advocacy relationships are created with a process to account for each person’s role in the relationship and how that relationship benefits the other person. Ideally this is a two way street—mutually beneficial—though, this is somewhat less straightforward when considering your client advocate relationships.  Make sure that whatever the relationship, both parties agree to the terms and understand how those terms work.

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Topics: Business Development Client Engagement

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