Referrals: Part of Every Conversation

Referral Selling is a proven way to find quality prospects that convert at a high level and help you grow your agency. Having a referral system will provide a consistent source of new leads that will feed your agency on a regular basis. Referrals have a higher probability of converting into a client, yet most salespeople do not have a referral system.

Why don’t insurance agents have a referral system? Referral selling is not easy, it is a skill that needs to be developed. Sales leaders will tell you their teams ask for referrals, but reality paints a different picture; their teams are not effective at asking for referrals. When we put our reputation on the line, we are not comfortable asking our clients to refer us. Some may feel they are being pushy or arrogant in asking, but the bottom line is we are afraid that our client will say “No” to our request. Fear should never be the sole reason why we don’t ask!

How do we get over our fears of asking for referrals? We build skills and practice those skills until asking becomes second nature. When a salesperson becomes comfortable asking for feedback, everything changes!

We don’t think our clients are willing to help us. We need to learn to ask the right way. How many of your clients have you asked for referrals? Have you asked every single one? You forget people you interact with, you miss the opportunities to ask them who they work with, who they know, who they go to church with, attend kid’s activities with, etc. You don’t know until you ask them! We make assumptions that they don’t want to help.


The way most agents ask for or have been trained to ask for referrals looks something like this: at the end of a sale, the agent slides a piece of paper across the desk to their client and awkwardly asks “could you write down the names of 3 people that I could call?” The client is usually caught by surprise. There are other ways agents can ask for referrals, and most agents are not successful because they lack confidence and consistency in their process.

A consistent process takes pressure off the agent and the customer. A way to tie in asking for referrals while learning about the customer is to ask them open-ended questions. These questions build rapport between the client and the agent. By asking and then discovering specific things about the customer the process becomes easier. Asking questions about their family, their favorite places to eat, where they get their dog groomed, is great to learn about your customers while at the same time setting up an opportunity I call “Priming the Pump”. Priming the Pump is a purposefully timed action where you ask your customer to refer something/someone/someplace. Asking these types of questions can get them in referral mode and allow you to pivot and ask “Do you recommend any businesses (restaurant, movie, groomer, doctor, etc.)?” Getting the customer to recommend or refer you to business gets them “Primed” to give referrals later in the sales process.

Guiding your client through easy opener questions makes it easy for them to give a referral. Once you have the referral, always include the referral in your initial communications.

A simple email template:

(Referrer Name),

I have been working with (Agent’s name) for a long time. (Agent’s name) and I were reviewing my policies. The value of that conversation made me think of connecting you two (referral and agent).

(Referral’s name), meet (Agent’s name).

I will let you two take it from here.


(Referrer Name)

What if you ask 20 people for referrals?

10 don’t have anyone for you. Follow up with them later to ask again.

10 will have referrals for you. 50% of those will close = 5 new clients.

You have your biggest source of new business at your fingertips!

To sum everything up:

  1. Develop your strategy for asking for referrals, specifically, what kind of questions are relatable to your clients or community?
  2. Practice makes perfect! Consistency wins the day and helps to reinforce referral asking as second nature.
  3. Prioritize! Once you have the confidence, prioritize clients you have close relationships with could yield the highest gain.
  4. Measure: Start with weekly goals that are obtainable (e.g. asking for one referral a week). Once you start reaching these goals, reward yourself and set the next goal higher! A slow build with positive reinforcement for you and your staff will help make this a sustainable process.


Written by: Field Sales Manager Jamie Smith | LinkedIn

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