We are doing a lot to develop centers of influence, especially with CPA firms, attorneys, and P&C brokers. In most cases, they are already trusted advisers to the kinds of firms that we want to do business with (100+ employee lives), and we want to be part of the team – the “inner circle” – that becomes invaluable to a client. The art of it is in creating the value proposition that is compelling to the center of influence. You need to be able to articulate the “what’s in it for me” quite succinctly and it needs to also resonate with their clients. Otherwise, why bother, right? So it really needs to be a win-win-win situation in order to make any strategic discussion actionable.

So what is your firm doing to proactively cultivate centers of influence? What has been most successful in terms of making the “intent” of collaboration actually a viable action plan? How do approach a potential center of influence and convince them that there is mutual value in sharing your clients and prospects?

One idea that we have come across is to start with your own clients. Have your account management person or customer service representative conduct a brief survey. At the end of each service call over the course of a couple of weeks, have your staff person record the name of your clients’ trusted advisers on a spreadsheet. It would be interesting and valuable to learn that you have 10 clients in common with a CPA firm or attorney or P&C broker. It would be an easy call to make when you can share that information and let them know that you’d like to meet for lunch to discuss how you can jointly grow that number to 25 or 50 shared clients. Now that’s something that should be their attention and not be purely theoretical. That’s what I mean about actionable.

Please share in the comments an idea with your peers that we all can implement in our local markets. Collectively we have the talent and ideas to accelerate the growth of our practices. So let us hear from you about one winning idea that is effective in cultivating centers of influence.

Beattie is president and chief executive of South Miami, Fla.-based Selden Beattie Benefit Advisors. She can be reached at 305-661-9090 or bbeattie@seldenbeattie.com.

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