Getting the Most from your COI’s (Centres of Influence)

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What is a COI?

COI’s are “people who know the people you want to meet”. COI’s don’t buy from you. They are not distributors or resellers.

Example: In my business, which companies have access to people that may need help with their sales organization? Consultants, lawyers, accountants, CEO groups, marketing firms, etc…

What COI’s do you have in your business?

Why Bother?

COI’s already have credibility with your audience. Your audience will take their call, take their advice and value their recommendation. For you, that means warm, interested and pre-qualified leads coming into your business already believing you are worth talking to.

But Be Careful!

In my business, like many of yours, one often meets people who could be a great COI. After you chat a bit, you grab a coffee, talk about your businesses and then promise to refer leads back and forth. So far so good.

The problem is that after that meeting what happens next? Not much. 2 reasons:

  1. We are often looking for instance gratification from our relationships, so if neither of you have an immediate referral or introduction to make, the relationship cools out fast.
  2. Because, while good intentions exist, life “gets in the way”, we get busy and we forget.

So what Should You Do?

First off, understand that building a relationship with a COI is a marathon, not a sprint. You should have no expectations that anything is going to come immediately from a new relationship.

Once you realize that, then the only way to keep the flame lit between you and them over the long- term (assuming you’ve both agreed you are a good fit) is for you to take the initiative to stay in touch with them. Sounds so simple yet most don’t do it.

Since nobody knows which COI is going to bump into a lead for us or when, I use my CRM:

  1. With every COI marked in my CRM with the “status” field listed as “COI”, when I want to access them (like the person we all met 3 years ago at a networking event who’s name we can’t remember), all I need to do is run a report, voila … they magically appear;
  2. I schedule reoccurring tasks in my CRM to “connect” (mostly via email) to my COI’s on a standard frequency. Some every 90 days, some every 6 months.

Simply put, if I don’t stay connected with these critical and valuable relationships then I am relying (read: hoping) they remember me. I have sabotaged my odds.

By connecting with them, I am staying top of mind. So when they are faced with a client or peer with needs I can solve, they think of me.

What Do I “Connect” About?

Every few months I send individual personal email to my COI’s to share news in my business; updates on any past relationships they may have sent over and lastly, something personal that’s going on in my life.

I just let my CRM drive me. When it’s time to send another catch up email, the task will appear. I simply refer to the last email I sent (so as to not sound canned) and write the next one.

Lastly, this module is a fancy way of saying …”if you love your COI’s, they will love you back”.

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