Referrals: It can’t hurt to ask

How can you use a working referral program to generate more business? Referrals are the most coveted way to gain business, and in an age where exposure means everything, they are one of the ways prospective clients determine your credibility. Honestly, the easiest (and cheapest) way to market your agency is by word of mouth, which is extremely effective. So what can you do to get more referrals?

Firstly, you should rely on your existing clients to provide names and contact information for prospects. Even though you provide your clients with amazing service, it can still be challenging to have them give you this information. One of the easiest ways to combat their hesitance is by explaining your process; tell your customers how you plan to contact these new people and how often so they don’t feel bad for giving away their friends’ information. It’s always a good point to highlight how you give special treatment to referrals because they come from a trusted source, and that you are going to offer them the best rates based on an in-depth analysis of their needs.

Setting Up Your Agency’s Referral Program

Here are some key tips to get you started with a successful referral program:

  1. Know your target audience. If you client is over 60 and empty nesters, it is probably safe to say that most of their friends are in the same boat. Explain how you have some great rates for clients with good credit and no children on their auto policy.
  2. Ask your clients to Like your Facebook page! Post some cool content and ask them to share so you get out in front of all of their friends and network! Then, thank your client on Facebook for their referral. This way you are showcasing your genuine relationship with them and demonstrating a personal interest in their posts.
  3. Give you client two business cards. This should become standard practice for you. One of the cards is for your customer in case they should ever need to contact you, and the other is for them to hand out.
  4. Make sure your email signature is included in all official correspondences. This way, your clients can easily forward your tips or recommendations to people they know and your agency information will be automatically included.
  5. Pay your CSRs and producers for referrals. Have you considered setting up a referral bonus program in the office? Incentivizing your team is one of the best ways to ensure they ask people for referrals. If you hadn’t heard already, ASNOA has a spectacular referral program for independent agents to take advantage of!
  6. Make sure your clients know all the different types of insurance you offer. You don’t have to mention every single line of business you do (that can be hard to incorporate into every conversation). Pick a few to highlight, or pull up your complete list of offerings on your website and walk your current clients through them. As you are explaining, they might think of referrals that could benefit from your services.
  7. Refer your current commercial clients to other clients within your book of business. This helps create a sharing culture between you and your clients, and they are then more likely to recommend their customers to your agency.
  8. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask. Asking is the hardest obstacle to overcome, and a lot of agents feel uncomfortable doing it! If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. An easy tip we have is to create a script for yourself. This way, you won’t feel as nervous thinking of how to smoothly transition into asking for a referral.

What if you already do all of the steps above?

Then try something new, like utilizing emergency contacts! Asking your clients for their neighbor’s contact in case of an emergency. Explain that, if they are away and a tree falls or there is a fire and the client cannot be reached, that the neighbor should call you so you can help. Then, call the neighbor and introduce yourself. Be sure to directly address why you have their number, but avoid salesman-like language and tone. Present yourself as the caring insurance professional that you are so they know that your intentions are genuine. Of course, the neighbors will know you sell insurance, so keep the conversation about your client. Ask them if you can mail out a magnet with your contact information in case of an emergency. Mail the magnet right away and ask that they add your contact information into their phone for a quick response. The neighbor will then be more likely to call you when they have questions.

Be sure to keep track of your client’s emergency contacts in your management system. In Epic, you can create a Relationship between clients and prospects for quick access to their contact information.

Creating an Additional Client Referral Program

One of the quickest ways to drive referrals is by incentivizing your clients. You can do this a number of ways, like offering a gift card for any referred business or entering their name into a prize drawing. If the referral then becomes a client, you can increase the value of the prize. Like I said before, it’s good practice to thank your customers on your social media so it will show up on their feed and notify their friends.

How to Keep Track of Referrals

You’re an independent agent, and your life is busy. Staying on top of referrals shouldn’t add more work to your day, so I’ve got some tips for staying organized and updating all of that information.

  1. Start a Google Sheet that you can send to your clients asking for referrals. Be sure to update it based on their responses, crossing off anyone you have already contacted.
  2. Add the prospect’s name into your management system to follow up and add notes. In Epic, you can create an Activity that can be added to your Outlook calendar.
  3. Create a policy source as well to keep track of your top referring clients so you know to thank them at the end of the year.

The power of asking does not cost a thing, and you could gain lifelong clients along with multi-line policies. When you keep a good working relationship with your current client base, they are more likely to renew their policies and send you new business. Like I said before, it never hurts to ask.

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