- Kevin Davenport
- Mar 27, 2014
Get more referrals for your insurance agency – by talking to your existing customers and getting personal…
Ask any insurance salesperson on the planet if he or she would like a list of solid referrals, and you will undoubtedly get a resounding “Yes,” for your answer. Deliver that list to the salesperson, and you will become beloved.
Why are insurance product referrals so valuable? Referrals for insurance products and services are testimonials in disguise. Whether or not someone uses the product or service you are selling, if they are willing to tell and friend or family member to check out that product or service and see whether it meets their insurance needs, you have a much better chance of making the sale. Referrals mean more potential business in insurance sales, less work in garnering a potential insurance client’s trust, and above all, the beginning of a great working relationship that can lead to –you guessed it—more referrals for your insurance agency.
How can you get more referrals for your insurance agency? It’s all doable with just four easy steps.
Make conversation that leads to the ask. If your stomach just dropped at that statement, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Asking for referrals can be nerve-wracking, even for the most experienced salespeople in the insurance business. You must lead up to the ask with conversation, by talking to your existing customers, and –yes, by getting personal. It really is all about building relationships.
Here are a few good conversation starters to help get your clients talking about others so that you can build the referrals you need for future success in the insurance business:
Ask about the family.
“So, you grew up here. Is your family close-by?” or, “Your brother lives in town, too – what does he do?” Questions like these will help you define the client’s close inner-circle of friends and family. Remember that these folks may be potential insurance clients, so if you can find out more about their lifestyles and needs, you may be able to suggest products and services that are not only appropriate but appreciated. A friend or close family member’s introduction will sooth fears that the potential client is “about to be sold something” and replaces those fears with the notion that you, as an insurance agent, have his or her best interests at heart.
Ask about hobbies and interests.
“You like to kayak on the weekends, where do you usually go?” or, “Have you heard about the bike ride for the Children’s Hospital next weekend?” are good openers to find out what your clients’ interests are. If you’re at a complete loss, ask something along the lines of, “Do you have big plans for the long weekend?” Once you know what a client enjoys, you can find out more about clubs and organizations to which he or she belongs and determine whether your clients’ fellow hobbyists might have a need for your products. Ideally, your client will already know the value of the array of products and services you provide and can recommend them to friends.
Ask about health and wellness.
“I heard you were under the weather last week. Has your family managed to steer clear of that bug?” or, “I heard you work out at the community center—who’s your group leader?” can be great conversation-starters for potential insurance clients. Listen to the people your client mentions and be aware of the points made by the client about each relationship. If family members did fall ill, or helped out your client during his time of need, those folks may need similar products and services to the ones your client has already purchased. Mention of mentors and group leaders can also lead to referrals, as you client knows and respects these people and will often go out of the way to help them achieve something desirable in return for their leadership.
Ask about your clients’ demeanor.
“You look tired. Everything ok?” gives you client a reason to vent—and let you know what he or she needs, while “You look fabulous, what are you doing?” opens up doors to friends or acquaintances at the gym, beauty parlor, or spa that may be potential clients. Let the conversation drift a bit, you’ll be surprised how much you find out about the people with whom your clients spend time.
Ask about business.
“How are things going with your new assistant?” or “Isn’t it great to have a business partner with talents that complement yours so well?” not only tells your client that you respect him or her as a professional, it gives the client a chance to tell you about the working relationships that are a big part of life. The people with whom your clients share business relationships have great potential as referrals. Take mental notes so that you can suggest your client bring up products or services that seem to be a great fit with those who will benefit from them. This makes for easy, natural conversation that isn’t salesy and won’t make either of you cringe.
No matter which questions you ask your clients, the next step is a little harder. Step number two, right after asking the right questions, is to let your clients talk.
Now, here are some pointers: Don’t interrupt. Don’t ask more questions. Don’t tell them stories about your life or experiences. Let your clients tell you about themselves.
You will find that not only do most folks enjoy talking about themselves tremendously; they also will divulge great information that gives you insight into what they need as well as the needs of their friends and families. Once you discover that need, it’s easier to ask for the referral and to approach potential new clients. Even better, as you become your client’s friend, there will be even less need to make the dreaded ask at all. You will be the person you client automatically refers when part of his or her inner circle has a need for insurance.
Ask for the business. You’ve already laid the foundation. You’ve built trust with your client and have credence with his or her friends and family. You may have even been pulled into that inner circle that every individual has. Now when you make your recommendations, you’ll be treated as the expert in insurance products and will be looked to for advice when those who know you need it most. Step up to the plate, share your knowledge and increase your business… all while feeling pretty good everything you’ve done.
Finally, you need to live up to the expectations you’ve set. Continue to provide great client service. Make sure your new clients really understand their purchases and sell those products they need that will truly be a benefit so that you will remain a trusted advisor and worthy of the referrals they send your way.
So, go ahead, get personal. Develop the relationship. Spend some time. Become a friend, a partner, a trusted colleague. Patience and good listening skills will take you incredibly far—and you’ll find that you’ve may just gain more than referrals for your insurance business in the process… In fact, you may be blessed enough to gain something even more valuable over time– lasting relationships and great friends.