Published on 04 May 2012
Asking a customer for the names of a friend or two shouldn’t be a problem. All too often agents will NOT ask for referrals, and sit back and wait for their customer to initiate this process. This should not be the case, as a proactive approach to getting referrals will help you build a healthier insurance business faster than any other source.
What is the reason agents do not ask for referrals? I found myself pondering this question, as it is something that comes to me so naturally. I think I’ve found the answer: fear. Fear of sounding like they are desperate, fear of damaging the customer-agent relationship, fear of rejection. Whatever the fear may be, it is a fear that needs to be overcome. The most successful producers and agents I know have mastered the art of referral business. There are a number of ways we can obtain referrals. Let me share my process.
I ask for referrals at least 3 times throughout the sales process. Once before the sale, once right after the sale, and once through my follow-up process.
Before the sale I would say something like:
“…and because I have done such a wonderful job for you today, you won’t have a problem telling some friends about the service you received from me at XYZ agency.”
This is a fantastic start to the process of gaining referrals, as it acts on many different levels. First, it is actually asking for additional business. Second, this positions the conversation that you will have after the sale regarding referrals, and lets the customer know you will be proactive from this regard. Besides, its not probably a customer would ever say no at this point, as long as you haven’t botched the deal before you even made the sale, in which case I would say to myself ‘that is one lucky agent.’
Directly after I have sold someone a policy is the second time I will ask for the referral. This is where the “meat-and-taters” conversation occurs about the referral process. I begin the conversation with something like “Have I done an O.K. job helping you with your insurance today?” Again, very unlikely that a customer will say ‘no,’ hopefully because you DID do a good job. Not, because the customer just isn’t bold enough to admit they weren’t satisfied. This statement positions the close of asking for referrals, which I typically say right after they reply ‘yes’ with something like: “Great! Now, the best compliment an agent can receive is a referral. Is there anyone you would like me to contact regarding their insurance?” Nine times out of ten, the customer will not be able to think of anyone at this time, but it’s a great lead-in to the third time we ask for referrals.
The third, and final time, I will ask for referrals during a sale is at the follow-up point. I send a hand-written thank-you card to every customer whose insurance I write. Along with this card is a referral form I have developed. This form can be very simple, just be sure to get the name, phone number, address, and email if possible. This allows the customer to think about people they may want to refer to you in a comfortable environment, and after they have had time to settle down from the buying process.
Now, let us not forget supporting the sale either. In insurance, you should support the sale you have made previously by offering outstanding customer service. It would be unlikely that a situation would present itself when asking for a referral before customer service work is to be done. However, I would do steps 2 and 3 for every customer I encounter during my customer service work.
Remember, referrals need to be earned, and should never be expected. It is not the customer’s duty to send you business. You must prove that you will treat the folks they send to you with the utmost care, and this is done by treating the referrer with the utmost care.
Well, I’ll sign off for now. Have a great time out there, and as always…Happy Selling!
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