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When You Send a COI Referral, Do This

Reciprocity is the foundation of the relationship. The five-step plan will make you a good advocate.

In order for referral alliances to work, there must be a two-way street of a referral flow. Reciprocity is the foundation of the relationship. With that in mind, how are you finding opportunities for referral alliance partners in your circle of influence?

Are you looking for clients who don’t have estate plans? Are you asking about their relationship with their accountant? You want the accountants and attorneys in your network to see you as a true advocate. 

The sheer quantity of referrals you send makes an impact, but the way you send them matters as well. Consider the traditional approach: the advisor spots an opportunity with a client who needs an estate plan, then recommends the client call an estate attorney. As a result, (a) client may or may not call and (b) the advisor has little contact with the attorney.  

We think there’s a better way. The right approach ensures the connection takes place, makes the client feel comfortable (they don’t know this professional) and creates meaningful contacts between you and your alliance partner. Next time you have a referral to send, take this five-step approach instead:

  1. Call your referral alliance to tell them about your client who needs their help.   
  2. Email the referral alliance with notes and next steps. Many of your professional partners are detail-minded and appreciate your notes in helping them get off to a great start with their new client.
  3. Escort your client to the first meeting with this referral alliance. This is a no-brainer; you’re getting face time with a top client and a referral alliance in one sitting. 
  4. Send a thank you note to the referral alliance for their professionalism. Yes, you sent the referral, they should be thanking you, but we’re looking to build a meaningful relationship here.
  5. Check in with the referral alliance when the work is complete. How did it go? 

Why go through all this effort? Perception. You’ve created five touchpoints with this COI (including one face to face) instead of the one you’d have with the traditional “call this person” approach. Over the course of a year, this adds up and creates the perception that you refer even more than you actually do. 

@StephenBoswell is president of The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors@KevinANichols is the chief operating officer of The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors. Learn more at

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