How do You Build Greater Value into Your COI Network?

Can targeting your stories help build influence with your COI?

Can targeting your stories help build influence with your COI?

For many of us who sell professional services, we do much of our business development through partners and referrals.  I spend over half my time talking with Centers of Influence (COI) in business development activities. I thought it might be helpful to share what I’ve learned in developing relationships with the COI.  I recommend a book called Prospect and Flourish as a resource.  It’s available today in Kindle version for free. Just go to the image on this page and get a free copy from Amazon. If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with the author, Keith Luscher.

We will be doing additional giveaways throughout the year featuring content from the book. But today, just sign up and get your free copy of the book.  Keith plans to do several seminars over the next several months to help you become excellent at prospecting.

Do you need a process to develop your referral network? In Chapter 4, Sharpen Your Point of Contact, Keith provides several key ideas to help you build the power of your referral network.  He takes you through an easy process to share what you do with COIs. His first step is to identify your value proposition. The idea is to share your message in a way that people will be willing to invest 20 minutes conversation with you.  This process includes helping you clarify your value proposition to each group of COI’s you work with.

Keith shares several ways of presenting your value proposition. One is by telling a story.  In this situation, you want to spend some time considering how you share your story.  I find if you can help paint a clear picture for your COI, the faster you get better referrals.  If you focus on the opportunity and the results in your story, the COI is more likely to introduce you to their clients.

The process to clarify your value proposition that Keith shares is simple and powerful. I share it here:

Start with a blank sheet of paper.  Across the top, write the name of one current or former client.

Divide the paper into two columns by drawing a line down the center. Now label the left column Before. Under the heading, list three to six conditions that were in place before your involvement with the client. Depending on what you sell, this can go from very simple to more complex. The key is to make these situations easily understandable.  They should also help the person you’re talking with start thinking about their different clients. This may be the first time you done this, so be patient. I’ve also asked my clients to do it for me to help me better understand how they see their situation. Their answers can be eye opening.

Label the right column After. Then under the heading answer several of the following questions. Keep it simple and to the point. How much did it reduce expenses? How much time did you save? Did it increase revenue and/ or profits? Make sure you dig in to find out all the measurable value you’ve created. Be good at listening and the client will help you tell a great story. Ask good follow-up questions. But keep your writing down to bullet points. Be willing to ask what challenges they encountered. Also, look for individual contributions as you go through the story.

The final question to ask is how long did it take? When you’re done you should feel and be able to share both the facts and emotions of a given situation.

Finally, what did you learn?  Remember the better you’re prepared to share this, the stronger the connection for the COI.

Because you have prepared, you will have significant impact on the listener.  Most professionals don’t go through this process and because of it, they have a hard time getting buy-in from other professionals. Systematically doing this moves you into the top 10% of your peers.

Next week, I take you further through the process. However, there is another way to learn the process faster. Keith and I are looking to give his book a very successful launch on Amazon Kindle. Available only on March 5, 2014, you can get a free Kindle version of his book. Take time right now and grab your free copy. Open it up to chapter 4, and get the rest of the story. By acting today, you can actually get the whole book for free. What I’d ask you to do share this with your friends and take time to write a brief testimonial if you find value in the book.

See you here next week.

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