By GEORGE DIAZ
I know some people who hate asking for referrals from their clients for fear of disturbing them or asking for “too much.” I understand the mentality, but I believe it is wrong.
When you get your clients to promote your agency in a simple and uncompromising way, it’s doing them a favor.
Why? Referrals are what we might call social currency. We all like to recommend companies and quality products because it is a way to help each other.
Unfortunately, many insurance agents never properly prepare and train on how to request referrals in an effective and convenient way for both parties. This can lead to interactions like the following:
Agent: “If you are satisfied, could you maybe give me the names of three people who could also benefit from my excellent service?”
Customer: [uncomfortable pause] “Oh … um … well … I guess you could call my … I really don’t have phone numbers with me now …”
Agent: “Sorry, but can you think a little harder about a few people before we end our meeting?”
I do not want your clients to lose the opportunity to make referrals, but at the same time, you shouldn’t have awkward conversations.
Here are eight ideas for generating great referrals.
1. You must change your mentality. Stop believing that you are “asking for referrals” and imagine this instead:
“I am helping my clients increase their social status by facilitating the recommendation of an agency that is easy to work with, cares about clients and can save money for their friends.”
If you do not convince yourself of this, your problem may be more complex than simply needing referrals.
2. A referral bonus program is a system whose goal is to give value to clients who refer your agency. You can include different ideas, but the most important thing is that it must be a standard procedure, replicable and easy to implement. Having this program offers many advantages.
» It will be easy to explain and replicate for your clients.
» You are less likely to have an unwanted referral.
» You can develop promotional material for your products (brochures, etc.).
» Your clients will have an extra motivation to refer you and will be more willing to do so.
3. If your clients do not have your contact information with them, they will be unlikely to refer you to their acquaintances. Initially, be sure to be among your clients’ telephone contacts. Then meet their family members and also have them in your phone. Work on this until each member knows you.
Explain to your client the benefits of having their family members know your contact information in case of an emergency. This can even be done as early as the first sale.
To the client, it will appear that you will be available to them at all times. For example, if you sell a policy to the mother of the family and she experiences an emergency, it’s important for other family members to have your contact info.
4. Make business cards with additional space to place “Referred by ___________.”
In the blank space, write the name of your client and give it to them to pass to their contacts.
5. One reason why your customers hesitate to refer you is because they do not want to look bad if they recommend your services and you are not the right fit for that person.
Eliminate that risk by explaining the types of clients you serve and what you can offer them.
Be careful about describing your clients with a profile different from theirs, as it will make them doubt if they are with the right agency.
Here are two exercises that illustrate my point.
Exercise 1 — Ask your client: Excluding your co-workers or family, think of someone you know who would be happy to make sure their loved ones are protected, or to have a financial plan for their retirement. Take time until you have thought of someone.
Exercise 2 — Now think of a neighbor who would be happy to have those same services. The first question is more difficult to answer because the client will not know whom to refer.
The second question has fewer options, and I bet you yourself imagined your neighbor thanking you for helping them.
The point is, when you ask for referrals from your clients, ask them to think about a specific group of people from which it is easier to choose.
6. The email signature is a block of text that automatically appears at the bottom of your messages. Most agents have their contact information and maybe a link to their website.
This block of text is a good place to request referrals, because your client will be reading the email and can forward the information to their contacts.
Use “Fwd my contact information” as your action message to remind the reader how to recommend you and above all, invite them to do so.
7. When you receive referrals from a client, post it on your social networks for everyone to see while you thank the person who gave it to you.
This accomplishes many things. It shows how much you appreciate their confidence in you. This will increase your chances of getting more contacts, and your social media followers will be able to see this.
It also reinforces to your existing clients that other people are so happy with your services that they are inviting their friends to get to know you. This social test will improve customer perception and retention.
8. LinkedIn has an interesting tool that can help you identify referrals. When you look at the profile of someone you do not have in your network and you are connected by a third person, LinkedIn will show you who that third person is.
This means that you can send a casual message to the person you’re connected by to request to be introduced.
Obviously, a lot depends on your relationship with that third person, but you never know what you can achieve by trying. Now it is my turn …
If any of the ideas presented in this article are useful and you know someone who might appreciate it, please share it.
You will be helping two people with a minimum of effort. Happy hunting.
George Diaz, MBA, has written for various financial websites and has more than 15 years of sales experience. George may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. .