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Sales Techniques for Insurance Professionals (4-part Series)

by Paul T. Montgomery

Part 3: Getting Referrals

At last, the secret is out. Referrals are the special ingredient for many successful businesses. In fact, a 2021 Nielsen study showed that only 36 percent of consumers trust outbound ads on social networks for getting new clients or customers. And even fewer people place their faith in traditional advertising, such as television and radio, which has checked in below 25 percent for several years.

Referrals Require Trust

On the flip side, studies show that upwards of 90 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family members more than any form of advertising. And insurance is one such business in which buyers strongly trust referrals.

Most people begin by selling services (and products) to family and friends to get started, but unless you have numerous friends and family in high places or you’re related to the Kardashians, you will need to find additional ways of getting actual referrals.

Obviously, it goes without saying that the best and most organic way to get referrals is to “be great at what you do,” so much so that people can’t help but recommend you. While that’s true, it is a bit obvious, so let’s add some other ideas to the mix.

Build Client Relationships

Referrals are the byproduct of having good relationships. Since these are business relationships, you need to tread lightly when approaching the topic of referrals. On the one hand, asking can be the most genuine and straightforward way of trying to build your business. On the flip side, you can come across as being pushy or overly aggressive (which rarely works well).

In today’s world of inbound marketing, you are often better served by getting referrals without asking. One way to do so is by carefully shifting the conversation after you’ve concluded your pitch or made the sale to something based on what the customers have told you about themselves or even by asking about a specific item in their home, such as a painting, trophy, grand piano or pet orangutan. By doing so, you begin the process of knowing them outside of the confines of the seller-buyer relationship. By expanding the relationship and perhaps getting them to tell a story or two, you can get to know more about your clients and even about their circle of friends and family (aka potential new referrals). If you do this well and organically, they will think of you as someone they know and even like. Now you’re not trying to become best buddies, but breaking the ice and talking off-topic for a few minutes can elevate you on their referral list.

Start the Referral Circle in Your Area

Do you know a good realtor? A great contractor? Expert plumber?  Terrific interior decorator?  They can all refer you as a top-notch insurance salesperson in your town or neighborhood, and you can refer them as well. Once you start, you can add a wide variety of local service providers. By doing so, you start a referral circle, or group, in which you have plenty of people to refer, and they can all reciprocate. It’s a win-win. Plus, you can also link such referral partners to your website, so your clients can find them, and their clients can find you through a reciprocal link. You don’t want to refer just anyone. Get to know and trust these people before asking them to join. Let them show you their work and read reviews about each service provider – remember, your reputation is on the line.

Reward the People

It’s simple, let it be known that anyone who provides a referral that turns into a sale, will be rewarded. Send them something simple they will appreciate – like a gift card – as a thank you for the referral. It’s a well-known fact that people enjoy receiving gifts. Sending a simple, yet appropriate gift is a polite gesture that will have the referrer remembering you the next time someone they know is in the market for insurance.

Be Politely Promotional

Whether you have made a sale or not, have an item available that will keep you front of mind. For example, if you’re selling home insurance you might have a short book on home repairs, gardening or making your home more environmentally sound. People also like data, so if you’re selling car insurance, perhaps your can provide an app that includes car repair businesses within a fifty-mile radius. Anyone can hand out pens, caps and business cards. The trick is to give them something unique, and beneficial with your name on it somewhere.

Referrals can be golden, so seek them out, even over just leads, many of which are not worthwhile in the end. Think of referrals as having your own fan club spreading the word about who you are and what you do.

Hey You Don’t Wait. Prepare For Oe 2023

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