Referrals… Everybody Wants ‘Em. Everybody Hates Asking For ‘Em.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the majority of insurance agents, and likely, salespeople across all industries struggle with the best ways to ask for referrals. It’s a confusing issue for sure, as it’s common knowledge that referrals become clients faster, are more loyal, and are more likely to refer others over time. So far be it for me to try and provide answers as to how you should ask, or what exactly you should be saying to your current clients to drive more referral business. After all, a quick “asking for referrals” search on Google returns 20,100,000 experts from which you have to choose. Who am I?
Alternatively, and knowing that most of you are reading this while wearing two hats (that of a business owner, and a salesperson), I’d like to examine this issue from the perspective of the business owner, thus asking a few tough questions in the hopes of giving you the confidence to find your own way within those 20 million Google hits. And at the end, I’ll give you my best recommendation (with some hints along the way) for replicating your best clients.
Question #1: Are You Executing on Your Value Proposition?
The most successful business owners are executing on their value proposition.
Owner/Practitioner: Are you setting the standard and example for your team members? In every act, decision, and behavior you are being closely watched by them. They will model your behavior both in and out of the office. And, if the office culture is that which you envisioned, your team will be your best advocates in the community. (Hint #1)
Team Members: Have they been thoroughly trained in their roles with a complete understanding of where they fit in the client experience? Top producing agents are very regimented in their daily routines, know exactly what is expected each day, and their support teams work in lock-step with that rhythm. BUT! They collaborate regularly in order to navigate the challenges that each day brings with an unparalleled client experience as the end goal.
Processes: Is the client experience built around your end goal, as opposed to the needs, aspirations, passions, and goals of your client? Client On-boarding, Recommendations, Ongoing Reviews, Follow through (phone, email, and face to face) App and Contract Follow-Up; each step of the client experience should be systematized such that your ideal client feels welcome and appreciated and is aware of the value you bring to the relationship.
The Client: Are you engaged in your client’s work? The ability to deepen relationships beyond the transaction is a skill today’s top producers all have. It takes time to develop an understanding of your ideal client’s aspirations and passions, but believe it or not, there are ways to establish that from your initial meeting. The combination of an unparalleled client experience and having a full understanding of, and empathy for, your client’s lives can be very powerful. (Hint #2)
Question #2 Are You Offering Something Different
The most successful business owners are executing on a plan that differentiates them in the market.
In my last blog we discussed (without opinion) the differences between an insurance agent and consultant. The ability to carve out a niche and specialize as opposed to being a generalist, being one of the major differences between the two. However, there are many other things that can be done to help your agency stand out.
Social Media/Online Presence:
Examine your social media strategy and the quality and responsiveness of your website; making sure they are aligned with a marketing strategy that speaks to your target market(s).
Search Engine Optimization:
Working with a company to enhance your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help “pull” future clients to your practice, and, boost your online presence for those client referrals who will be researching you before contacting you.
Make it Personal:
Add a short video to your website explaining why you are in the business, the life experiences which led you to the business, and what lessons being in the business has taught you. Find a way to tie this video back to your client’s aspirations and passions and guess what?? More “pulling”, less asking. (Hint #3)
Question #3: Are you Referable?
The most successful agents recognize and communicate the value they bring to the client relationship
This may in fact be the toughest question for you to answer. But it is true that the agent who understands the importance of his or her role in the client relationship stands to break away from the pack, in turn running a wildly successful business. You help your clients manage risk, mitigate taxes, fill income gaps, execute their legacy wishes, and perhaps even in your own case, execute on business succession plans. Why wouldn’t you tell every client that you help them avoid mistakes and execute on their life’s goals and passions?
Question #4: So, What’s My Recommendation?
That’s right. I said it. Stop. Asking.
The reality is that people are happy to recommend those they care about when working with a professional who delivers an unparalleled client experience, shares in their passions, leverages technology, and understands and communicates their value. Admittedly, implementing even small amounts of this process takes time but it’s a question that deserves your attention;
Are You Referable?