In a previous blog, we talked about the three discovery stages that take place when meeting with your clients’ Centers of Influence (COIs). They are:
- Learning about their business philosophy.
- Educating them about you and your business.
- Exploring ways you can work together.
Once you’ve completed Stages 1 and 2, the dialogue that moves from discovery to the actual recommendation might sound something like:
YOU: “I appreciate getting to know you and hearing how you created your success as a CPA (or other profession). I believe there are some possible synergies that could be beneficial for both of us with a strategic relationship. Would it be all right if I share with you a little bit about my team or my practice so you can assess the potential value of a strategic partnership?”
Here is where you want to provide the dialogue you have put together about your value, practice and team. You’ll want to make sure it follows these key points:
- Insert your answers to the questions: “Why me?” and “Why a strategic partnership?” It’s best to use the pronoun “we” as opposed to using “I.” “We” connotes that you bring a range of resources to the table.
- Use verbs like “strategically partner with” or “collaborate with” as supposed to “work with.” The word “work” is not particularly compelling or descriptive.
- Use a COI description that specifically defines them as being unique. For example: “Professionals like you who want to grow their practice; they get rave reviews from clients, like the one we have in common.”
- Identify (based on your interview questions) how your team has helped other COIs to achieve their goals.
- Reinforce how your team would be a unique asset to the COI.
After addressing the “Why me?” and “Why have a strategic partnership with me?” you would transition by saying:
YOU: “Now that you have a greater sense of my team and how we successfully partner with a limited, select group of other key professionals like you, would you mind if I went into a specific example that I think you might find particularly relevant for the growth you’ve described for your practice?”
This is the point where you insert a story that is specific to the prospect’s niche. For example, you can talk about a particular benefit you were able to provide to another COI. The next transition might sound something like:
YOU: “Having shared with you my thoughts, which I hope align with the growth you’re wanting to achieve, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask what you think about this?”
After the COI answers, you move to the closing:
YOU: “Now that I’ve described our unique team philosophy, I’d like to recommend some next steps, assuming you see value in an additional meeting.”
YOU: “Great. Thank you for the opportunity. Here are what I believe are the reasonable next steps.”
You then determine what the COI would need to do next and by when to make sure this meeting ends with an action plan. After the COI agrees to the timing of the next meeting, you would end by saying:
YOU: “Excellent. Before we wrap up, let me reiterate our agreement.”
You would then restate what the COI will do, by what date, and what you will do, by what date. You might end the conversation with final remarks such as:
YOU: “Thank you for the investment of your time today. I look forward to our next meeting together and the opportunity to work together in the future.”
When implementing the three discovery stages and using the dialogues we’ve provided, you’ll have the ability to determine which COIs are a good fit as a networking partner and to convince them to join you in this endeavor.
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