Harnessing Centers of Influence: An Introduction

They are the people who are most important to your company’s success and on-going growth. Their well-honed interpersonal skills, nuanced business acumen and targeted enthusiasm allow them to catapult you far ahead of your closest competitors. And yet, if you are like the vast majority of software company leaders you don’t really know who these people are.

They are Centers of Influence (COI)but, before you turn away thinking that you’ve found yet another ‘influencer marketing’ article, it’s important for you to recognize that the COI that play an essential role in your company’s future success are not those people who are most commonly described as ‘influencers’ in today’s business and popular media.

In fact, you may be surprised to find that the COI that will help your business thrive:

  • Do not spend a lot of time using social media to share their business and personal experiences online;
  • Are not necessarily vocal advocates of your company or your product;
  • Do not necessarily have many LinkedIn followers; and
  • Are not motivated by money or free gifts.

So, who are these COI that will help you achieve the growth you need to meet your company’s short- and long-term goals? And, once you’ve identified them, how do you approach them? Furthermore, what’s the best way to leverage them wisely – given your company’s evolving priorities? And, once you begin tapping into this group of powerful individuals, how do keep them engaged?

This new monthly series entitled, ‘Harnessing Centers of Influence answers all these questions and provides you with the tools and practical insights so that you can tap into the unique power of COI. As a result, you will have the building blocks of a COI program that will be a cost-effective growth strategy.

What’s more, this series kicks off an opportunity for you to quickly reap the benefits of having COI grow your company. Send an email to abrown (at) BridgemakerReferralPrograms.com and you could win one of five Centers of Influence ‘action plans’ customized for your company (Value: $25,000 each).

In this 10-part series, we’ll draw upon executives – in software companies from across industries and software associations – to tackle the day-to-day challenges and strategic issues that you will face in rolling out a cost-effective COI strategy. Specifically:

The Pros and Cons of a Centers of Influence program. We’ll review the quantitative benefits of having a COI strategy and identify the risks of having/not having such a program in place.

How to Prepare for a Centers of Influence program. Having explored the tangible benefits of implementing a COI program, you’ll likely want to jump right in. We’ll identify the foundations you need to put in place to ensure your COI program helps grow your company.

How to Identify and Recruit Centers of Influence. Finding the right COI involves setting specific criteria and actively pursuing these people. At the same time, the criteria evolve along with the success of your program. We’ll review how, and where, you can target your COI.

How to Manage Centers of Influence. While business development professionals, account professionals and channel sales professionals all help grow your company’s revenue, they each bring to the table their own unique talents to achieve this common goal. Similarly, the person(s) managing your COI program have a distinctive combination of skills that we’ll identify.

How to Support Centers of Influence. Each COI has their own reasons for, and abilities to, help your company grow. That means the support you provide them needs to be mapped against their current strengths and weaknesses. We’ll help you develop that mapping.

How to Turn Around Centers of Influence. Stuff happens. And, occasionally you’ll go ‘off the rails’ with your COI program. We’ll identify the mostly likely ‘breaking points’ of your COI program and the steps you can take to get it up and running again so that it contributes to your company’s growth.

How to Integrate Centers of Influence with Sales and Marketing. You have several programs, plans, initiatives, budgets and metrics – all of which are aimed at helping your company grow. So, where do COI fit into all of this? We’ll outline different ways you can combine your COI program with all your growth strategies.

How to Integrate Centers of Influence with Customer Success and Product. Your company’s success hinges on your software products and the ways you engage with your customers. We’ll explore how COI play a key role in how your company’s offerings expand and evolve.

Your Centers of Influence Program – the First 100 Days. Getting your COI program of the ground correctly is key to its ability to rapidly grow your company. We’ll help ensure that your program is successful by identifying the potential ‘traps’ you’re most likely to face and how to avoid/overcome them.

This article was originally published on Software Business Growth Magazine with the editorial guidance of John Oncea.

Andrew Z. Brown is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Bridgemaker Referral Programs. He is the lead author of the “How to Grow Your Business Through Better Relationships” series — which includes books on optimizing growth by leveraging referral sources, channel partners and strategic alliances.


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