By | December 19, 2013
When I talk with top-performing agents about their most productive new business sources, they usually rank referrals at or near the top. These agents also report that when referrals are carefully cultivated, they often close at rates of up to 80%-90%!
You probably already have some type of a referral program in place. Perhaps you give gasoline or gift cards to current clients who refer new prospects to you. or write personal notes expressing thanks. Whatever you do to reward current clients for supplying you with potential new prospects, keep doing it. and keep looking for ways to do it better.
The purpose of this article is to share with you some referral techniques used by top insurance professionals. I hope you will supplement your current referral program with these ideas to increase your flow of business-rich referrals.
Technique #1—Make it a Habit to Ask
Top performing agents I’ve worked with make referrals an absolutely automatic part of their client conversations. Every time they insure someone, at the close of the conversation, they say something like this:
“Mrs. Smith, I am delighted that we will be insuring you. And before you leave, I want you to know two things. First, I want you to know that you’re going to be a happy client for a long, long time. And secondly, I want you to know that the only way we grow our agency is if you tell your friends about the valuable service we provide.”
When they make a habit of weaving these few sentences into their client conversations, agents report they always boost referral production appreciably. Another top agent has developed a slightly different, but equally effective approach. He and his team members have changed the conversation slightly, saying:
“Mr. Jones, I’m delighted that we’ll be insuring you, and I know you’re going to be a happy customer for a long, long time. Could you do me a favor and give me the names of two people that you think could benefit from what we do?”
This agent told me that, within a week of implementing this approach, his team began to get positive response. “That first week,” said one staff member, “I received six referrals from current clients. I called all six of them and wrote three autos.” Their new client success continued, of course, because they made asking for referrals a regular part of every client conversation.
Additionally, many top agents also include a short comment about how much they appreciate referrals as part of their signature block on email messages. Here’s an effective example from an agent friend’s business and personal emails:
“The greatest gift you can offer me is the referral of a
friend. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.”
Thus, every time my friend sends an e-mail out across the internet, his recipient is gently reminded how much he would appreciate the referral of a family member or friend with assets to protect.
Technique #2—Harvest the "Moment of Joy"
Another productive way to create a referral-rich environment is to be alert for client moments of joy. Every now and then, you get a call from a client who says, “I’ve got to tell you, I really appreciate what you did. You guys did a great job on my claim,” or “I really appreciate how you helped out.”
For example, an agent told me about a client who experienced a house fire. The fire happened while his client and family were out enjoying dinner in a fabulous restaurant. While the family laughed and savored their delicious meals, their house burned to the ground. The agent said, “When I got the call from the Client Information Center at about 9 o’clock Saturday night, I knew I needed to drive to the home site. I found the family there, in shock, trying to figure out what they were going to do.” The agent explained to his client family, “When I heard about the fire, I knew you guys are going to need a place to stay tonight, and maybe some clothes and things. So, on my way over here, I stopped at the office and cut this check for $3,000. Please take this now to help with your immediate needs. and let me know if you need more.”
“About a week later,” the agent smiled, “this client called me and said ‘I can’t thank you enough. That was just fantastic that you met us at our home the night of the fire. I really appreciate what you did, and I’d like to buy you a steak dinner.’”
The agent replied, “As much as I’d enjoy the steak dinner, what I’d really appreciate is if you would tell your friends about the excellent service we provide.”
Whenever you go out of your way to give clients immediate assistance, they are likely to express their sincere appreciation. That’s a Moment of Joy. As they are thanking you, ask them to tell their friends about the valuable services you provide. Never miss an opportunity to let people know how much you appreciate new prospect referrals. A steak dinner is nice, but landing a new client is even nicer.
Technique #3—Teach Your Team Referral Economics
Another thing that top agents do to create a referral-rich environment is to teach their team members something I call referral economics. During a staff meeting, these agents draw the following chart on a marker board: