Fostering success with centers of influence

Episode 99: Sarano Kelley returns to the podcast to explain how creating – and maintaining – centers of influence can add value to your clients and your business.
February 2020

Sarano Kelley

Co-Founder, The Kelley Group


Fostering success with centers of influence

What if you could have advocates in your target market promoting your brand? Word-of-mouth marketing has one of the highest ROI’s but is one of the hardest to create.

Sarano Kelley returns to the podcast to explain how creating – and maintaining – centers of influence can add value to your clients and your business.


Play and pause

In this episode:

  • What is a center of influence (COI)?
  • What does a successful COI relationship look like?
  • Turning a COI into a Goodwill Ambassador
  • Measuring the success of a COI
  • How to navigate through a COI not reciprocating your good will

Subscribe to our podcast newsletter


Sarano Kelley – The colder the prospecting approach, the more disciplined, the more systematic, the more focused the individual will tend to be.  Then when you give them a methodology that’s literally easier, right, warm relationships, friends, family, social acquaintances, COI’s, referrals, this is where people think because it’s warmer that means it’s okay to be less structured, less disciplined, less of a process, less of a sales funnel, less of a pipeline and it’s totally backwards.

Ben Jones – Welcome to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes. presented by BMO Global Asset Management. I’m Ben Jones.

Emily Larsen – And I’m Emily Larsen.  On this show we explore the world of wealth advising from every angle, providing actionable ideas designed to improve outcomes for advisors and their clients.

Disclosure – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries. 

Ben Jones – One thing I hear consistently from marketers is that word of mouth endemic marketing brings in the highest return on investment.  So what if you could have advocates in your target market promoting your brand?  Today’s episode is all about Centers of Influence, or COI’s.  When working correctly, you can build mutually beneficial relationships that can add value to your clients and your business.

Emily Larsen – Sarano Kelley is a personal efficiency and professional development speaker and coach.  He last appeared on the show back in Episode 61 where we talked about how to overcome objections from clients with effective communication.  Today he’ll be sharing critical advice from his new book, “Reversing the Deal Flow – Volume II”.  He’ll talk about managing reciprocal relationships with few COIs and taking them to the next level to create mastermind groups.

Ben Jones – Sarano is a former White House communications coach and when you listen to today’s episode you will hear him directly coaching you on how to approach your COI strategy.  But first, one thing prevalent in Sarano’s work is the necessity for structure.  For example, before we implement a COI strategy, we’re going to need to build on a foundation by understanding everything about COIs and how exactly you can leverage them in your practice. So today we’re going to be talking about COIs and Centers of Influence.  This is something that just my observation over the years is that every advisor says that they have some COIs or a COI strategy.  But very few have actually mastered driving success through a COI strategy.  You’ve put a lot of thought into what makes a good COI relationship, how you turn them into Goodwill Ambassadors and how you go about executing the strategy.  So I’m super excited to talk to you today.  But maybe we could just start with level setting the conversation.  What is a COI?

Sarano Kelley – You know, when we see the term COI or center of influence, often when we speak about that person in the financial services industry, we’re thinking of the people who typically impact a person’s finances, right?  Kind of like a family office set of resources, taxation, estate planning, lending, insurance.  Kind of the CPA lawyer individual who obviously has some impact on a person’s financial and/or business life.  While certainly those people are COIs, if we take a look at it more broadly, it really relates to anyone who has influence over an important network of individuals.

Ben Jones – I like that, can you give me some examples of maybe a less common COI that you’ve seen as you’ve worked with advisors on strategies like this?

Sarano Kelley – Yes, I will say that one of our guys put together something that I thought was absolutely amazing because it literally involved non-traditional COIs.  He was pulling them together to operate as, what we refer to as, a mastermind group.  He chose the head of membership at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in the city in which he lives.  He then sought out the regional head of NetJets in the same city.  He then partnered those individuals with real estate agents, as well as with the head of business development at the symphony and the opera.  If you think about those kinds of individuals, those individuals are all connected to typically high net worth kinds of prospects.  But those individuals are not the ones that people think of when they think of COIs.  They don’t think of, you know, the head of business development at the symphony or the opera or the head of NetJets or something like that.  So, I think it’s one of the better examples because it does get people to think outside of the box.

Ben Jones – Many of those people probably tie into his, you know, ideal client type and their interests as well.

Sarano Kelley – Yes.

Ben Jones – So what a great example.  Now, I’ve heard you speak on the topic that you don’t really want Centers of Influence, you want to turn those Centers of Influence into a Goodwill Ambassador.  What does it mean when somebody becomes a Goodwill Ambassador?

Sarano Kelley – It means they actually do something for you.  You know?  You know because advisors are really guilty, I think, of giving referrals to COIs.  So when a lot of them say, oh yeas, no, I’ve got a great COI network, right?  You’re like, okay.  Well how many referrals have you given to that network?  They’re like, oh I’ve given tons.  You’re like, that’s awesome.  How many have you received?  Then you hear crickets.  So when we say Goodwill Ambassador, we don’t mean someone who is potentially an advocate for you.  We’re talking about someone who is actually advocating on your behalf and doing so effectively.  We refer to that person as a Goodwill Ambassador because they’re basically forwarding your brand.  They’re doing so out of an act of Good Will.

Ben Jones – I like that.  If you could paint a picture for the audience, what is a successful COI relationship look like?

Sarano Kelley – It looks like a very mutually beneficial relationship where certainly what those individuals, you and those COIs have in common is, you have a similar demographic, a similar group of people who you’re best suited to have as clients.  But I would say that there are other factors that come in.  Like temperament, personality.  I find that with COIs when they begin to work with advisors, that advisors begin to understand other things about those particular practices about those industries, about their challenges.  They become more knowledgeable, they become more valuable.  I see these sorts of relationship sometimes become very good friendships.  Some of them even support each other in personal goals like life balance and you know how to not just win at business, but how to have a life.

Ben Jones – For advisors that are listening to this show, why do you think that COIs, or a COI strategy is important to them?  Why should they care?

Sarano Kelley – Well, if you think about the business process, right?  Any sort of business there’s a lot of energy and money that goes into marketing.  So if we think about this in the terms of being an advisor, take a look at if they’re doing direct mail, how much direct mail they have to do.  If they’re cold calling.  Look at how many cold calls they need to make.  If they’re doing seminars.  Take a look at all the work that it takes to do those things, to actually arrive at the point that you literally have someone who is a qualified prospect.  Once you have a qualified prospect, you’re selling.  But if we take a look at it, the most difficult part of the job, or I should say the most time consuming part of the job, is not really the selling.  Most of the time and energy is spent in the marketing.  So with a COI, what you’re basically saying is that you’re going to outsource the marketing to a 3rd party, who in this case for them, it’s easy for them to do the marketing because these people are their clients.  They don’t need to buy a list.  They don’t need to explain who they are.  They have a high level of credibility.  I think sometimes even more importantly, COIs actually know when money is in motion.  So they’re going to be more apt to bring to you, or to bring you to, the right people at the right time.  That is an incredibly efficient model compared to most of marketing which is let’s throw enough up against the wall that something’s going to stick.

Ben Jones – Sarano shared that one metric of success for an advisory firm is how well known their business is by the people that they want to work with.  This is a really distinct way to articulate what you should be thinking about when building your marketing strategy.  I asked Sarano what building a successful Center of Influence strategy looks like.  Where do you start? 

Sarano Kelley – Well, we really do build it one step at a time.  So for example, one of the earliest steps would be to actually have a communication strategy with your own clients where you’re able to explain to them the value of actually having someone be principally responsible for coordinating the advice that they get.  If we take a look at a lot of the other COIs in the equation, be they CPAs or lawyers, those people get paid by the hour or by the transaction.  They’re typically not in the best position to coordinate, let alone around financial affairs.  That ultimately what we want to do is have the client create the introduction to the COI, because they see the value of it to them as a client.  Then with the client actually initiating that introduction, not only is the advisor connecting with COIs, but they’re well positioned.  A lot of advisors would think, well you know it’s just enough to get the meeting.  But if someone meets with you and it’s gratuitous, or they meet with you and it’s kind of to pacify or to not offend a client, what we just had was a perfunctory meeting.  That’s not going to get us the results that we want.  So it’s really a matter of taking a look at a logical sequence of steps and asking ourselves at each point, what’s really needed at that step to make this go right.  Right?  Like for example, what do you say when a client does introduce you and you call a COI?  How do you introduce yourself?  What reason do you give them for why you want to meet with them?  How do you make sure that it doesn’t feel like some sort of bait and switch?  Then when you meet with the COI themselves – what is actually the right process if I begin by basically making a pitch or a presentation?  Immediately the person can feel like I’m somehow needing something, wanting something.  There’s no true sense of particularly being peers in this equation.  All of a sudden as we take a look at the details, we have to realize, these are details that can be handled and they have to be handled.  Otherwise you can take the actions, but not really get the bottom line results.  

Ben Jones – Now, how many COIs should an advisor actively be engaged with?

Sarano Kelley – You know, it’s hard to give you an exact number.  Only because it would be dependent upon the size of the advisor’s practice, the kind of market they were pursuing.  You know, a person could have a really large network, but that network is not producing a lot of returns.  A person can have a small network that produces tremendous returns.  But if you said to me, hey you know what?  Give me some sort of numbers.  Give me some sort of range.  I would say that ideally they would have something like six to eight COIs who they have formed a strong partnership with who are working together in a coordinated way and who are referring the advisor consistently.  Now that hub would be part of a larger network and that larger network might look something more like 24 COIs, right?  Then if you take a look at that kind of a group, by extension, you probably have access to a fairly large number of people.  When you have something like 24 COIs in your network, 6 of whom who are really active Goodwill Ambassadors. 

Ben Jones – So that’s a lot more than I think people traditionally think of. 

Sarano Kelley – Yes.

Ben Jones – So in a lot of ways, this COI kind of work ends up being very similar to maybe the pipeline or the funnel process that someone would use with prospecting or client acquisition.  Would you agree with that, and do those six people change over time?

Sarano Kelley – While I would certainly agree with that, I will say that it’s interesting as a general principal, if we take a look at different ways to market, let’s say some ways are cold, like cold calling and some ways are warm, like COIs or referrals.  What you’ll typically find is the colder the prospecting approach, the more disciplined, the more systematic, the more focused the individual will tend to be.  Then when you give them a methodology that’s literally easier, right?  Warm relationships, friends, family, social acquaintances, COIs, referrals, this is where people think because it’s warmer, that means it’s okay to be less structured, less disciplined, less of a process, less of a sales funnel, less of a pipeline.  And it’s totally backwards.  Actually, one should have more structure, more preparation, more of a pipeline because there’s more to gain.  There’s also more to lose.  But it’s counter-intuitive.  It’s not typically the way that we operate.

Ben Jones – That’s a really powerful insight.  I mean, I’ve never heard that.  But you’re so spot-on, it’s that these people have entrusted you with a warm introduction, you owe it to them to be much more disciplined with a warm introduction from somebody who already thinks highly of you than you do someone who you’ve never met before.

Sarano Kelley – Well, in sports it would be like missing a lay-up, right?  Because it’s just so easy.  It’s a lay-up.  So because a lay-up, you get casual.  All of a sudden it’s after the fact a bit disappointing because there was no reason to miss that opportunity.  There was a loss of focus.  So it’s unfortunate, but typical that, what we refer to as Low Hanging Fruit that that tends to be when people are less structured, which is not a good idea.

Emily Larsen – What a fantastic insight and a great call to action.  You can resolve tomorrow to start treating warm introductions more seriously than cold ones.  Next, Sarano has some very actionable advice on precisely how you can get started building these relationships.  Get your note pad out and listen carefully to the examples that Sarano gives Ben here.  There is some specific language embedded that you can use when you talk to clients and potential Centers of Influence.

Ben Jones – So let’s get into the How of how someone goes about doing this.  Maybe before we dive into what you should do, you could share with us some of the things you should not do.  Because I’m sure you see a lot of those as well.  So what are some of the common, maybe mistakes that you see advisors doing when they pursue a COI strategy?

Sarano Kelley – You know, I’d have to say that the biggest mistake is when advisors basically pursue a strategy that essentially is tantamount to, I’m going to meet with you, I’m going to actually give you referrals, in the hope that you will give referrals back.  But I’ll never really have an up-front conversation with you about expectations.  So one of the earliest steps that we have people take in our process is we have them stop giving referrals to COIs.  That when they’re going to give a referral to a COI, that they would reach out to the person and first have a conversation.  Right?  And that conversation might sound like, you know, Ben, I believe that I have a client who may have a need for your services.  I’d love to be able to, in the future, refer people to you.  But since you and I haven’t worked together before, I wanted to first understand what is your policy as it relates to reciprocity when it comes to referrals?  Let’s say the person, for whatever reason, feels like they don’t quite know what you mean.  It’s a very simple clarification which is, well Ben what I’m asking specifically is that, in your experience if I started referring people to you, what do you think I should logically expect back, right?  So that kind of up-front conversation about having a mutually beneficial relationship is what typically doesn’t happen.  What people are doing is basically slipping people referrals and then hoping that they give them back.  When they don’t, they’re just secretly resentful, but there’s nothing they feel that they can do.

Ben Jones – Yes, I like that idea of not leaving with a referral.  How important is it for the advisor — you know we talked about this idea that when it’s a warm referral or a warm relationship that it’s even more important to do things right.  How important is it for the advisor to interview the COI and make sure that they’re a good fit for the way that they do business and the way that their values and everything else align with clients?

Sarano Kelley – I think it’s really important.  I actually see this strategy through a couple of different lenses.  Like as an example, I believe that clients are better served when they actually work with COIs who are coordinated and aligned.  I remind advisors that in order for a person to get a family office set of resources where the COIs are dedicated to working together as a team, it takes $100M in assets to have a family office.  It takes $100M in assets and $1M in fees just to start if you want to get a truly coordinated set of COI resources.  Basically what that means is anyone under 100M is working with a bunch of, essentially, random relationships that are not coordinated, that are not communicating and where quite frankly, there’s no overall accountability.  So now all of a sudden the client’s got to play like, you know, project manager or quarterback and there are so many ways in which this creates unnecessary and convoluted situations like the client’s taking investment ideas and running them by their CPA.  Or their CPA is not an investment person, right?  Or any other way in which people sometimes assume that, you know, they can take data from one profession and run it by another.  It’s typically not the best way to do things.  

Ben Jones – And so an advisor whose starting out in this and they decide they want to get much more disciplined about their COI strategy, how do they even begin to know who the right COIs are in their community relative to the clients that they serve?

Sarano Kelley – Well, one of the key steps that really does clarify that is that, when an advisor takes this on as a dedicated process and they’re actually having conversations with clients about why they want to meet with the COIs of those clients, that we then have the clients actually list the COIs for contact purposes.  But then the advisor will add an additional step.  And the step is, you know, Ben, thank you for sharing with me who are these key individuals who are impacting your financial affairs. I look forward to being in touch with them. Let me ask you, I’d like you to rate on a scale of one to ten how satisfied you are with their services. I’m asking this because if someone’s a 10, and they’re interested in having other clients, then certainly I would be delighted to refer them to clients of mine who may have a need for their services. By contrast, if someone is scoring low and you’re not satisfied with their services, then I would certainly like to be someone who can make a thoughtful recommendation for you. And then literally the advisor will have the client rate the COIs. And it then puts them into two groups. The people who represent those that you want to meet with, because they’re known to do really great work, and those individuals that you don’t want to meet with, but not only do you do not want to meet with them, you want to find replacements for them with your clients. That would be a really essential part of the strategy. 

Ben Jones – I really like the idea of disqualifying people right away based on customer satisfaction. It’s a great first step to know who you don’t want to work with.

Sarano Kelley – Yeah, and I would say that it really is — when designed the way that we design it — a win for the client because they get well coordinated resources and there’s a sense of some accountability because you met people through people, no one wants to get a bad name. You’re dealing with people who are going to want to perform their best in front of their peers. It’s a win for the advisor because the advisor is able to outsource their marketing, and it’s a win for the COIs. So if you take a look at it, designed the right way, it truly is a winning equation for each person in this “relationship complex.” 

Ben Jones – And so, I’ve got to imagine if you’ve got a COI that one of your clients is working with and they’re a 10 out of 10, and you reach out to them, you’re not the first financial advisor that’s reached out. They’re probably getting contacted by many in your community. So what is the right way to go about reaching out to those people and what’s required to really stand out from other potential advisors that they work with? 

Sarano Kelley – The key thing when you reach out is certainly to be interested in them and their goals. I think the problem is people tend to lead with some sort of pitch. I want to meet with you to tell you about my team, what we do, and why we’re so great. And that doesn’t appeal to that kind of individual. I think having a genuine interest in that person’s goals, how they’re looking to grow their business, what they’re looking to accomplish, allows you to have more of a consultative mind set in relationship to them. I also think that when you are someone who’s willing to take the strategy to its higher level, which is to form your own mastermind group. Where you’re pulling together a group of say some six COIs, who are all committed to partnering with each other. That one of the things that you bring when you meet with the COI is the possibility of your COI network embracing and referring them. So yes, this person may be getting many calls. Yes, they may have a lot of advisors who are always wanting to work with them. But how many advisors come and bring with them other COIs who can be beneficial to that person’s business? I would tell you that the answer is probably very rare, if at all. So yes, we can differentiate ourselves by actual value added, but also even an approach. And again, it would be much more of a consultative approach than it would be pitching them. 

Ben Jones – Okay, that’s the second time in our conversation that Sarano has mentioned the idea of a mastermind group. And I had to ask about this term. In fact, I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit I’ve never been clear on what a mastermind group is, or how it’s different from a study group, a networking group, client advisory board, etc. 

Sarano Kelley – There is a lot of confusion. People will think isn’t it the same as a networking group, a study group, a client advisory board, and the answer is no, actually they’re all incredibly different. For example, a study group would tend to be people who are peers, who are in the same profession, and may even be competitors. But there’s something that they need to study. That would be very different than, for example, a client advisory board, which is composed entirely of clients, which is entirely different than a mastermind group. And in the way in which we structured the application of the process of a mastermind group that the people who are in the group are peers, but they’re not competitors. They have at their core one primary thing in common, which is that they all serve different needs of the same client or client segment. So that’s very different than a study group. Most advisors candidly are not clear about the difference between these things. And so as a consequence, a lot of them have done things that seem close and they failed. And so they think, oh it doesn’t work. It’s like no, it’s not that it doesn’t work, you did it wrong. Right, these things have a very different purpose, a very different intention. And when you know exactly what you’re supposed to get out of them, it’s actually very logical and rational. But when you don’t, it can seem like maybe it doesn’t work. The value of the mastermind group we see as being three-fold. We see there being value in business development. We see there being value in practice management, and we see there being value in the fact that these individuals are often able to support each other in more life or balanced kinds of goals that go beyond just a day-to-day business. But essentially mastermind group are individuals who are willing to work together under the same banner or mindedness to achieve the success of every person in that group. 

Ben Jones – How does one set up a mastermind group? Can anyone do this, or is there an actual technology or way that this is done, or is this as simple as saying hey, I want to start a mastermind group and inviting people to join it and having some consistent agenda and meeting place?

Sarano Kelley – You know, it really is as simple as what you just said. One can just decide to start one, one can create an agenda, one can create a meeting place. What I would say though is if we take a look at the difference between starting one and having a successful one running we’ll find that the difference will be in the level of structure. Whether or not there are things like actual agreements, if there are actual rules, if there is a system of accountability. If there’s some sort of facilitation. These things are very critical to the success of the mastermind group. Where we see this structure executed most successfully consistently is really with CEOs. Now, a CEO mastermind group may not necessarily involve business development. But if you take a look at it, there’s an organization called Vistage. And Vistage is the largest CEO network in the world. Some 20,000 CEOs around the world all participate in these small groups and these are incredibly busy people, but they get so much value out of the interaction that for them is well worth the time. I’m partners with a similar group that’s part of the Inc. Magazine family. It’s called the Inc. CEO Project, and my partners in that business basically lead these peer mentorship mastermind groups for CEOs as well. What we haven’t seen is the same level of structure, the same level of rigor, the same level of discipline applied to the COI space. It tends to be very sort of informal, kind of loose. And that’s one of the reasons why you don’t get the same value or the same results. It’s a lack of rigor, a lack of structure. 

Ben Jones – And so for plan who want to learn more about how to put more rigor and structure into the mastermind groups, are there any resources or places you might direct them to. 

Sarano Kelley – Well, I’m biased obviously towards what I do and the way that I approach it. And I say that also because having surveyed a lot of what’s out there, part of what I had to resolve was some very important missing facts. Like for example, the whole idea of a mastermind group was really popularized by a book called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. And he was a young man, who Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest men in American history, asked to come up with an understanding as to why the most successful people were the most successful. And he interviewed Edison and Ford and all these individuals. And what he saw was that they all had an inner circle. They all had a mastermind group. Now, that was a brilliant revelation. It’s been one of the most important works on this subject, ever to be produced. And yet if you pour through the book and ask yourself well how do I do it, there’s no how. There’s just a what. But there’s no how. So what I found is that while there are lots of different ideas and tips, what was missing was a well thought through structure and system. So in our upcoming book, “Reversing the Deal Flow – Volume II”, coming out here this year, we outline that system. 

Emily Larsen – So to back track, let’s say you’ve done everything right and your COI isn’t reciprocating the good will that you feel should be part of the relationship. Sarano and Ben practice talking to a COI about why they might not be giving you the referral. This might normally be a tough conversation to navigate. Sarano’s tactical approach is certainly worth trying if you run into this problem yourself. 

Ben Jones – So you have a COI relationship, you’ve had coffee or lunch with this person, you’ve interviewed each other, you both feel like you have some alignment and you serve similar demographics or customers. But you’re not getting any referrals out of them. Like what went wrong or how do you dissect that situation? 

Sarano Kelley – There’s actually a conversation that I think that many advisors who have given out referrals should have with the individuals who have not actually exhibited reciprocity or some mutually beneficial approach. Now, we have to be careful because it is a sensitive conversation because if you, in any way, make the other person wrong for a lack of follow through, that typically is not a big relationship builder. So let’s say that I was having that conversation with you. I might say that you know, Ben, I’ve got to tell you, ever since I referred my client John to you, I’ve gotten nothing but rave reviews about the work that you do and I want to thank you for the great service that you provide.

Ben Jones – You’re welcome, Sarano. You’re welcome.

Sarano Kelley – Thank you. I have to admit though, Ben, I am a little bit confused because over that same period of time, you haven’t referred me and I’m wondering is there something missing for you that would make it possible for you to refer me, or if I’ve somehow missed something or done something wrong. 

Ben Jones – Well, you know, John Doe is actually the only contractor that I work with, and I guess maybe I thought I didn’t have any other clients that fit the group that you wanted to work with. 

Sarano Kelley – Okay, so because you and I met through an individual who was a contractor, and because you didn’t have any other contractors, you didn’t feel like there were other contractors. But it sounds like you’re open to a dialogue to see if indeed perhaps I might work with people beyond just contractors. 

Ben Jones – Yeah, I mean I guess it would really help me to just better understand the type of clients that you work with and the types of work that you do to help them.

Sarano Kelley – So by the way, Ben, not only is that such a great example, but it’s very real. It would never dawn on most advisors that a COI, they’re not naturally gifted at giving referrals. Some of these people need to be coached. They need to be trained. Just because someone has a good intention to refer you, doesn’t mean that they’re good at it. That’s one of the reasons why we believe that it’s important to get your best relationships into a mastermind group, because then you can work on things like how they share your value proposition. Who are the actual kinds of clients that you’re looking for, and who are the people that you don’t want to work with. There are all sorts of things that can be managed powerfully if we can actually put in the energy to train people. But without a real committed relationship, probably that’s not going to happen.

Ben Jones – We were thrilled to have Sarano back on the show, and for being so generous with his time and advice today. As he puts it, outsourcing your business marketing can be incredibly profitable. And when you build your network of goodwill ambassadors into a mastermind group, everybody wins. I asked Sarano for a final thought about today’s episode. And as usual, he gave me a healthy mix of useful tips and guiding philosophies on why this approach can be so successful to you and your practice.

Sarano Kelley – You know, Ben, how people are typically more nervous presenting in front of peers than they are in front of prospects, like all of us.

Ben Jones – Absolutely, yep. 

Sarano Kelley – The thing with COIs is they are peers, and all due respect, I think their BS meter is probably going to be pretty good. I would make sure I was being very, very candid and straight with people. These are peers, right. They have their own insights. They have more experience than your typical client does, so I think that a key part of the approach is to be straight with people. Not like one would ever not want to be straight, but I think sometimes, out of a desire to impress people, that sometimes we lose a level of authenticity and communication. And I think with COIs, that lack of authenticity doesn’t go very well. 

Ben Jones – Great advice. Now, you’re doing some workshops around the country this year on this very topic. I think you and Brooke are conducting them in a number of cities across the U.S. So tell me where can people find more if they want to learn more about how to implement these mastermind groups and COI strategies for themselves?

Sarano Kelley – We’re going to our website, thekelleygroup.net, and as you said, this year myself and my partner are going to be bringing this message to the broader advisory community. Really this message needs to get out because I see that many of the colder methodologies of marketing are dying. When I was a kid, we didn’t have caller ID, people had landlines, you could actually reach people, get them on the phone. If you take a look at it, people would normally go to a seminar. They couldn’t just catch a webinar. You could direct mail people. Now there’s e-mail and everything goes into spam. The colder methodologies are dying. And people are moving more and more to a relational way of wanting to be connected with. You take a look at things like Angie’s List and other very popular intermediaries. What people are saying is that I need a screen between me and my providers, and I think that the COI is the relationship screen that ultimately advisors have to get good at. Because I don’t think the colder methodologies are going to stage a comeback. I think they’re done. One of the things that I love about the COI process is that unlike other forms of marketing, accountability is inherently built into the equation. When you’re partnering with a COI, it’s kind of like having a workout partner. I think the prospecting is typically a very lonely affair. I think that’s why it’s easy to get off track. I think it’s easy to stop and start. I think that just like a workout, you do better when you have accountability. You do better when you have a workout partner. So I do believe that people will not just derive all the other benefits that I cited. But I do think that having partnership in prospecting makes prospecting a lot more fun. 

Ben Jones – Thank you for listening to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes.  This podcast is presented by BMO Global Asset Management.  To access the resources discussed in today’s show, please visit us at www.bmogam.com/betterconversations.  

Emily Larsen – We love feedback and would love to hear what you thought about today’s episode.  You can send an e-mail to [email protected] 

Ben Jones – And we really respond. 

Emily Larsen – We do. 

Ben Jones – If you thought of someone during today’s episode, we would be flattered if you would take a moment and share this podcast with them.  You can listen and subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcast platform is, and of course, we would greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to review us on that app.  Our podcasts and resources are supported by a very talented team of dedicated professionals at BMO including Pat Bordak, Gayle Gipson, Derek Devereaux.  The show is edited and produced by Jonah Geil-Neufeld and Sam Peers Nitzberg of Puddle Creative.  These are the real people that make the show happen, so thank you, and until next time, I’m Ben Jones. 

Emily Larsen – And I’m Emily Larsen.  From all of us at BMO Global Asset Management, hoping you have a productive and wonderful week. 

Disclosures – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries. This is not intended to serve as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any company, industry, strategy, or security. This presentation may continue forward looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements as actual results could vary. This presentation is for general information purposes only, and does not constitute investment, legal or tax advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment product or service. Individual investors are to consult with an investment, legal, and/or tax professional about their personal situation. Past performance is not indicative of future results.  BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management, trust, and custody services. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal.  Further information can be found at www.bmogam.com.

C11: 9406849                  

Subscribe where you listen to podcasts

What to submit feedback or suggest a topic?

About the podcast

Subscribe to our podcast newsletter

What to submit feedback or suggest a topic?

About the podcast

More podcast episodes

No posts matching your criteria
October 2020

Help needed: Hiring an executive assistant

Episode 111: Blake Stratton joins the podcast to share behind-the-scenes insights into how to hire, work with and delegate to a world-class executive assistant.

September 2020

Five steps to effective communication

Episode 110: Joel Weldon joins the podcast to share some of the tools that he uses to help make concise, clear presentations that connect clearly with an audience of any size.

September 2020

Navigating family dynamics: Multigenerational wealth

Episode 109: Courtney Pullen joins the podcast to provide actionable advice to help you navigate the challenges of multigenerational wealth.

August 2020

Mental accounting: Engaging clients with bucket planning

Episode 108: Jason Smith joins the podcast to discuss his mission to simplify the planning process and strengthen financial literacy around the globe, including details from his book The Bucket Plan.

July 2020

Creativity, economics and life with Russ Roberts

Episode 107: From embracing uncertainty to evaluating financial tradeoffs, Russ will help broaden your perspective and apply economic principles to your clients’ daily lives.

June 2020

Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture

Episode 106: In this episode, we’ll discuss ways to openly approach diversity and inclusion in the workplace with a desire to improve and understand.

June 2020

Turning tough conversations into better conversations

Episode 105: David Wood joins the podcast to discuss his four-step process for mastering tough conversations.

May 2020

Retirement income planning in the “new normal”

Episode 104: Retirement policy, interest rates and market volatility have made retirement planning more challenging for clients and advisors alike.

April 2020

Coaching clients through uncertainty

Episode 102: In an effort to support your client conversations during these times, we recorded this special episode with Steve Sanduski full of actionable ideas to help both you and your clients thrive during and coming out of this period.

March 2020

Low volatility investing

Episode 101: Chris Jenks returns to the show to discuss the ins and outs of low volatility investing and its potential impact on portfolios during times of market volatility.

March 2020

How to choose the right financial planning software with Michael Kitces

Episode 100: We discuss the differences between many of the large financial planning software providers, helping you set a plan to choose the fit for your business.

February 2020

SECURE Act: Retirement policy you can use

Episode 98: Mike Barry joins the podcast to discuss the key components of the SECURE Act, including what it means for retirement and financial advice moving forward.


Notice to Canadian Residents: The information on this podcast series is not intended to be construed as an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any products or services of any kind whatsoever including, without limitation, securities or any other financial instruments in Canada.