In our last post, we discussed the different types of centers of influence – traditional and non-traditional. Now, let’s see how we can approach them.
It’s easy to outline a strategy in an article or conference, but it’s even more useful for you to have concrete leads, examples of texts that you can start using today. Let’s see “how” to approach the centers of influence.
Step #1: Preparation is a key step
Before approaching centers of influence, it is essential to prepare yourself to really stand out on the day of the meeting. Here are some things to consider:
- A one- or two-page document that introduces your team and explains your service offer. It should be available on paper and in PDF format.
- Answers to questions that could be raised:
- Your ideal client’s profile: the type of person you serve best.
- Some testimonies about how you actually helped clients.
- A good overview of your roadmap.
- Reasons why clients choose to work with you.
Step #2: Connect with existing centers of influence
In your current clientele, you can probably count on a number of possibilities. Identify the centers of influence of your important clients and those with whom you have several clients in common.
Then, send them an email inviting them to join you for a coffee, or offer them a phone call. Here are two examples of texts for you:
Subject: Common clients
I noticed that we had common clients, including Mrs. Y and Mr. Z. It could be mutually beneficial for us to talk about our affinities and possibly to explore opportunities for future collaboration between us.
Would you be available for a coffee or a phone call next week?
Subject: Your name has been mentioned to me
In a recent conversation with Mr. Z, he mentioned your name (or: Mr. Z suggested that I contact you.) He did not give details about your service offer nor described the type of clients you serve, but he thinks you might be interested in getting to know us given our wide variety of services. There may be some synergy between your service offering and ours.
I would be happy to have the opportunity to meet you. I plan to call you during the week of (date) and determine if our services could be useful to your clients.
If you have any questions in the meantime, do not hesitate to contact me.
The 4 growth strategies within your reach
Step #3: Test centers of influence
Developing a relationship with a center of influence is as important as developing a relationship with a client. During the meeting or call, here are some examples of topics to discuss:
- Tell me about your business practice.
- Describe your typical client and your ideal client.
- Do you have a specialty or a specific niche?
- How do you envision the growth of your business practice?
- What types of situations are best suited to your business practice?
At the end of the meeting, ask yourself if the center of influence really corresponds to the type of professional who can help you improve the services you offer your clients. It’s about developing a network of complementary professionals serving the same type of clients – and quality matters over quantity:
- Are they serving a similar clientele?
- Are their business goals compatible with yours?
- Do they benefit from high-end expertise?
- Is their corporate culture compatible with yours?
- Do their services offer additional benefits that may be useful to your clients?
- Do you share with them a similar vision and business philosophy?
How to build your business strategy – step #1
Step #4: Maintain the relationship
If the previous step is successful, be sure to stay in touch with this center of influence to build a strong and lasting relationship. Consider:
- Add them to your newsletter distribution list and LinkedIn network.
- Invite them regularly to share a coffee or a meal, or to participate in an event.
- Send them a book or article of interest.
- Give them a book on a lifestyle topic (travel, photography, etc.)
- Like, comment, retweet their social media posts.
- Invite them to chair an event that you organize for your clients.
Centers of influence can be an important stepping stone for your business development: they will help you become the “trusted professional” your clients are looking for, and they will sooner or later refer you to new clients. It is therefore important to position yourself and stand out with these professionals.