Nothing speaks as loudly as satisfied customers, who have enormous power in helping you succeed in the insurance game. Chances are that if they tell their friends and family how well you’ve been taking care of them, their friends will tell their friends and so on. Not only will this be a great way to generate new business, you won’t need to spend much time and money cold-calling and generating leads, the results of which probably won’t be as value-rich as a pool of referrals. In fact, referrals have a closure rate of 60% versus a 10% return from non-qualified leads.
There are several ways you can go about getting your existing clients to refer you. While it may seem like asking a lot of a person to go out of their way to be your advocate, there are ways to make it happen. In fact, it may be easier than you think.
1. Shape Your Reputation
This is not a job that you can do overnight but you need to reinforce the value you hold as an agent. Are you attentive to all your clients’ needs? Have you been there for your clients when there was an accident or catastrophe? Your long-term goal should be to create a reputation as a trustworthy insurance agent who is there when it counts. If you’re the sort of agent who signs people and drops off completely, not only are you constantly losing clients and running yourself ragged trying to gain new ones, but your reputation will speak for itself. Finding an advocate in the areas where you sell won’t be easy if your reputation is that of a closer only. If you see yourself going down that route, you may want to rethink your selling strategy.
2. Ask Early On
When you first meet a prospective client, let them know that you have a referral-reward program upfront. Not only can you use this fact to verify that you are a professional with a reputation of keeping clients happy, you’ll be letting them know early on that this is something you may ask of them later on. They may even come to you before you formally ask, to reap the discounts or benefits you offer or just because they think you’ve been doing a good job.
Even though mentioning your referral program early on is positive, you never want to be too pushy. There’s always the person that wants to buy their insurance and not hear from you again unless it’s a reminder to renew a policy. Your number one job in any kind of sale-oriented job is to feel each client out and work with them on their terms. Weed out the folks who don’t want to be bothered. Or revisit them when they are more sure about you and want to reap the benefits of your reward.
3. Choose Wisely
Forget about the client who complains about various coverage terms in his/her policy and has done so with every carrier he’s tried out. There are some people who live to complain, and they do not make for good referrals.
So who makes a good insurance referral? Someone who seems to understand the coverage he/she has bought from you and is able to speak about it with someone needing new insurance or thinks they are paying too much. Your advocate should be someone with whom you’ve had a positive rapport. You should also be quite sure that this person is happy with the services you’ve provided and feels the price he or she is paying is fair. For obvious reasons, it also helps if this person has a wide network of friends and followers on social media.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to reach out to your top 20%, the folks who are happy and who understand the benefits of insurance, not the ones who buy just enough insurance (or not enough) and do so begrudgingly.
Obviously, you’ll want to avoid the people who feel like they got the short of the stick after they were paid out a claim. Even though a client may understand that an insurer’s policies are unchanging no matter what the agent tries to do, it may be a good idea to skip folks who may have already told their friends and family about what they deemed to be an unfair payout.
4. Make it Easy
You want to make the process of referring you super easy -- as easy as a pre-written referral note that a client can readily pass on to their network of friends, family and coworkers. You can print copies of the letter for your client and you can also send along an email template for your client to customize.
Whether the client uses your wording or their own with the template, it’s always a good idea to present an example in writing to ensure that the client touches on points you feel are important to pass on to the referrals. Also, it just saves the client a lot of time they’d otherwise spend trying to word the recommendation the right way.
Avoid calling the client’s referral until your client gives you the green light. There’s nothing more awkward than calling someone who hasn’t even had a conversation about you yet with your client. You may seem overly eager (desperate?) or aggressive if you call too soon.
5. Offer Incentives
Think about what you can afford to give to your best clients in return for being your advocate. Can you give a gift card? A discount? Free promotional items that no one’s yet claimed? If you can’t afford much, how about a nice thank you card? You want your client to know how much you appreciate the help.
6. Make it Easy for the Referrals Too
Not only does your existing client need coaxing to be your advocate but so do the referrals who call you for an insurance quote. Why not offer a discounted first month on their policy? Or, better yet, can you offer a free trial period? This option removes an obstacle, if your client is worried about giving a recommendation to friends who may not be happy with the insurance product you’re selling. At least this way, you’re giving your referrals a chance to see what you offer for themselves. Offering the free-trial to referrals may also be a great selling point for you with clients who are on the fence about helping you out.
7. Leads Make Good Referrals
If you have been buying leads, you’ll want to follow the same tips that apply to organically generated leads. How you got the business doesn’t matter; tell them early on about your rewards program for referring friends, family and coworkers when you explain all the discounts you can apply to their coverage.
Often, when seasoned agents begin to branch out into new territory, they buy the best insurance leads as the first step to building a vast network of clients. An initial lead may turn into three or four referrals, with minimal investment on your part. Those referrals will also have gotten the information about your referral-rewards program early on and will probably bring in even more clients if you show them you’ve worked hard for their business.
Think of leads as seeds you’re planting in different territories where you want to expand. Each referral is a leaf and your customer service is the water. If you tend to the seed properly you will have a flourishing tree with lots and lots of leaves. This is the organic way to grow your base using insurance technology to your benefit.