Many MSPs aren’t cultivating enough COIs (centers of influence) to generate new business. While there are many ways to generate leads, COIs are a keystone of your warm lead generation process.
Unlike other lead generation strategies, including cold calls and inbound marketing, COIs generate warm leads for your business, which is why every MSP should consider building out a COI network.
Without a doubt, the COI process is an important component to building an effective sales engine. If you currently aren’t working with COIs, there are a few things to consider before you begin.
What are characteristics of a good COI?
Be selective. Not everyone is the right fit for what you’re looking to accomplish. Potential COIs must be good networkers. They should also be business owners with known ties their communities. Even if potential COIs have access to networks, they should also be on the same page as you as far as their motivations for working with COIs and approaching business and client results. Your COIs should also target the same markets as you, deal with the same decision makers, want to grow their businesses and have processes in place to generate new leads.
Where to find potential COIs
Potential COIs are everywhere. For example, consider professional services firms (e.g., lawyers, advertising professionals, accountants, financial advisers and engineers). They typically have some great relationships in place — just think about the number of SMBs they have access to in their books of business. The best way to approach these potential COIs is by finding out how you can help them.
Clients can also make great COIs if you’re close enough with them. You may want to talk with them first to find out who they like and trust. Do they have any qualified leads for you? Even though they may, don’t stop at your clients. Consider what your prospects can offer you. They can also make great COIs. Whenever meeting with prospects, learn more about their businesses by being curious.
What to discuss when meeting with a potential COI
Of course, after identifying potential COIs in your industries and communities, your next step is to meet with them. Finding them isn’t enough. Doing your due diligence is essential. You must sit down with a potential COI to determine if there's an opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between the two of you — sometimes there isn’t one. It’s always best to discuss your businesses with one another by comparing company profiles. Are marketing and sales processes similar? What about average deal sizes? Be open to having conversations about what your motivations are. Find out theirs. Discuss how the relationship would work if you entered into one. What would the expectations be? Always do your best to get everything out on the table. If you don’t, you may regret it later on.
Finding the right COIs to work with takes time, but once you begin refining your network, you’ll notice a significant difference in the quality of warm leads you receive from your COIs.