By: Tim Woitach
Insurance agents are known as road warriors, mining for leads and constantly marketing their agencies. A successful agent is willing to enter any situation and isn’t afraid of hearing “no.” And yet, so many actively avoid asking existing clients for referrals.
Your existing clients are your greatest assets. They promote the benefits of your service and, if used correctly, can become a pipeline for leads in the markets you serve. But how do you approach an existing client and ask for a referral? Sometimes it comes organically, but formalizing a process will help make the exchange comfortable and optimize the results.
Here are a few tips to help you start gathering referrals:
- Timing is key: Like when you are asking for a client’s business, you need to wait for the right time to ask for referrals. You want to ask for referrals from a position of strength, not weakness. The best time is after your service exceeds customer expectations and you show them the benefits of working with your agency.
- Do your homework: Asking for a referral can become much easier if you prepare beforehand. Do some research and develop a list of potential contacts that your client works with or who they may know. Talking about a specific contact that you would like to meet can increase the chances of receiving their information without the client feeling pressured. Keep a referral file for your clients, updating their professional and community contacts to search for new potential leads.
- Referral Collateral: Have a folder or other collateral available for existing clients to give to contacts. This allows you to present your story to potential prospects and shows your existing clients that you handle all referrals in a professional manner. A lot of people are hesitant to recommend a product or service to friends and business associates, but the presentation of your company, your services, and an approach letter, professionally organized, can ease their mind and encourage action.
- Track the Referrals: After you receive a referral, make sure you have a process in place to track its progress. It is essential that you nurture any referral leads to develop and maintain your reputation with existing clients and encourage the continuation of your referral pipeline. Tracking can also help you determine which of your existing clients consistently provide leads that turn to new business and which clients are actively driving referrals to your agency.
- Say “Thank You”: Client referrals don’t have to come as a one-time occurrence. Simply following up with a thank you letter or phone call can show your appreciation and help keep the referral pipeline open.
Kearsley, K. (2013, May 13). Best Ways to Ask Clients for Referrals. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324715704578480791219532014
Levinson, J., & Lautenslager, A. (2014, July 8). How to Increase Your Customer Referrals. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234203