How to Ask for Insurance Referrals and get Responses
Agents For Agents: Referrals - Part 1 of 2 | 06/13/2019
Featuring: Laura Harris
You are a salesperson. You’re suave, sophisticated, with a silver tongue and a heart of gold. Your carriers love you. Your clients love you. But when it comes time to ask for insurance referrals, the flashbacks begin. You find yourself suddenly back in middle school. The bell rings, the class empties, and there’s your crush, all alone. Now’s your chance. Courage builds inside you as you approach the desk. Your crush looks up at you, and in that moment your heart freezes. You stammer some nonsense about forgetting an apple in your other locker. Needless to say, you went to the spring fling alone that year. Asking for a referral can seem an impossible task. What if you sound aggressive? What if you sound needy? What if I told you that you’re overthinking things? I can’t undo your middle school blunders, but with this guide, I can help you turn your next sale into an A+ referral.
Ask Consistently, Use a Template if it Helps
You might be surprised to hear that 92% of happy customers say they would be willing to refer their agents, but only 11% of agents ever ask for a referral. Why is this? I recently reached out to renowned industry veteran Laura Harris to get her take on the topic.
Laura's agency has recently celebrated an impressive 25 year milestone, and one ingredient in their secret sauce for success is consistent referrals. Laura's first piece of advice was to ditch phone referral requests unless the perfect opportunity presents itself. Her producers reach out to customers via email one week after the policy is written. This email not only introduces customers to their policy and the agency, but educates customers on the agency's referral program in a reliable and non-intrusive fashion. In her words, "With an email in their inbox, it’s a little harder for them to forget." She also mentioned agents and producers should be vigilant for times of excellent customer experience. If a customer is raving about your services, don't waste the opportunity. Be sure to bring up your insurance referral program. This might take a bit of practice, but if you are consistent in educating customers about your referral program, you should find yourself among the 11% swimming in referrals like Scrooge McDuck in his pool of gold.
Give Customers a Reason to Refer You
As our interview began, Laura made clear there was one rule to rule them all when it came to getting insurance referrals. "People don't want to hear it," she told me, "but you have to be running a top-notch agency if you want referrals. You can't let things slip through the cracks. If a customer reaches out, if we don’t follow up with them, they could lose coverage."
I told you that 92% of happy customers say they would be willing to refer agents, and the key word there is happy. You should begin planting seeds for that referral the moment you first contact prospective clients by providing them an excellent service they won't soon forget. If you're rude, impatient, or even simply average, your customers won't be keen to introduce you to friends or family. Meanwhile, customers you nurture from day one will be much more likely to submit reviews, write referrals, and share your information if the opportunity presents itself. Treat your customers as more than a number or a sales goal, which leads us to my next tip on how to ask for referrals…
Build a lasting relationship
Just as a meaningful day one connection is vital to helping you ask for insurance referrals, so too is a strong day 30, 90, and beyond. A lasting relationship can lead to more than a simple google review and referrals beyond your initial ask. This might take the face of a customer reward program for future referrals; a $10 gift card (Be sure to check state regulations) is well worth John Doe giving his uncle Jerry your number. Include reward program information in your onboarding process and again in future check-ins.
This is a human industry. Remember to call every so often to ensure your customers are happy with their coverage. Did they file a claim recently? Check in with them to see how the process went. This can lead to cross-selling, upselling, and even jog a customer’s mind about friends or family looking for policies. A customer who remembers your name and associates it with a positive experience is more likely to do you a favor in return.
An example of this comes from my childhood when my parents frequented a haircutter named Stacy. “Hang on,” you say. “What do your mother’s locks have to do with me learning how to ask customers for referrals?” My answer to you is, surprisingly, quite a lot. When my grandmother could no longer get into the salon, Stacy agreed to make a house call. After that, we kept on going to Stacy as our de-facto haircutting guru and Stacy made her monthly house calls until, several years later, the salon closed. Rather than find a new stylist, my mother reached out to Stacy and asked her to continue making house-calls for herself and my grandmother. The socialite my mother was, the other neighborhood moms quickly caught wind of Stacy the legendary stylist, and soon she had her schedule full of house-calls. Now, I’m not telling you to go house to house and clip some strangers hair, in fact, it’s probably the best if you don’t, but if you go above and beyond for your customers, as Stacy did for my mother, you can expect your customers will remember the favor.
Still unsure where to begin?
I don’t blame you. There is a lot to managing customer relationships. Whether you’re struggling to design a fitting reward program or find yourself forgetting to keep up with customers, AgencyZoom is here to help. We’ll handle customer outreach during onboarding and touch base every so often to keep that relationship healthy. To begin automating your referral process with easy rewards and pre-made templates, schedule a demo to start your free trial at: AgencyZoom.
For more on referrals be sure to check out Part 2 of our Referral series, By the Numbers: Why Referrals are so Important featuring industry veteran Craig Wiggin.