Building A Referral Network
The most important thing you can do as you are starting your business and getting in your first 50 presentations is to build your business as a referral-based business. Plus, selling to people you have been referred to is a blast! Because they know they have been referred to you, they are so much more willing to give you referrals as well to help you on your way. You never know where the next referral will lead, so have fun on the journey!
At this point, you’ve spent a lot of effort building your prospect list and making the approaches over the phone in order to set up your first set of presentations (or demos as we like to call them). If you do not practice the skills taught in this document, you may have a fast take-off, but you will not have the jet fuel necessary to break out of the atmosphere.
Imagine finishing up your first 50 demos – you may have even sold several of them – but now you have to begin cold-calling because you have sold yourself out of all your prospects!
The life-blood of any sales person is prospects; having a lot of people who are willing to sit down and listen to what you have to say. If you are excellent at getting and following up with referrals, you will never have a shortage. If you are not, you will still never have a shortage – you will just have to cold call and work a lot harder to get in front of them!
Remember that referrals have a short shelf-life! Their value diminishes greatly after 48 hours. When you get referrals from someone, call them right away and get them on your calendar. There is no good reason to “save” your referrals. As a new agent, you need to strive for the One Quarter Goal: only cold market for one quarter, because with referrals, you won’t need to cold market anymore.
Referrals from Individuals and Business Owners
The best time to get the most referrals is after you close a sale. Tell your new client:
_____, I want to give you all my contact information so you have it handy if you ever have a claim or even if you just come up with a question or concern. Why don’t you pull out your cell phone real quick and let’s put my number in there.
Take their phone and plug in your name and email address so they can get in touch with you.
“Do you feel like I gave you good service today? [Wait for them to say “Thank you” – now they owe you one…] Like I mentioned when we met, I don’t cold call; the only people I’m interested in doing business with are people I’m referred to. I work with business owners and individuals all over town. Who are some other people you know who would like to know what their options are?
When they give you their first referral, pull out a Tic-Tac-Toe referral sheet and write it in the first square.
To make this fun for my clients, I’ve made this into a game. For every three people in a row that take a look at this coverage, I’ll get you a $25 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant! You’ll have eight chances to win!
Continue to write in names until they can’t think of any more. Then ask:
Could you pull up your “Recent Calls”? I don’t need you to pre-qualify anyone for me – I don’t need anyone’s financial or insurance situation. I’m just looking for nine people that I can meet and tell my story to.
Who’s the first person on that Recent Calls list that’s here in town? (Once again, BREAK EYE CONTACT and look down at the paper. Whoever talks first loses!)
After they’ve given you as many names as they can from their phone, go back to the first name and ask:
How do you know _______?
(Assuming that they’re not family – let’s say they know them from church) OK, who else at your church is super cool that would want to at least know what their options are?
Repeat for every name they’ve given you.
Finally, after you’ve spider-webbed all the names they gave you, pull out the list you prepared ahead of the appointment with their local LinkedIn or Facebook connections and ask:
One last thing before I go – is there anyone on this list that I shouldn’t reach out to?
Most people will instinctively start pointing out more good referrals from that list.
If you follow this system with everyone you present the product to, you’ll easily generate 10-20 referrals per visit and permanently eliminate cold-calling from your activity.
Working with Property & Casualty Brokers
In our business, there are several sources of leads: cold calling, referrals, internet, etc. One of the most powerful lead channels you can cultivate is Property & Casualty (P&C) agents. When scouting for P&C brokers, the more fruitful relationships tend to be with independent shops who typically represent many carriers at once – not just one underwriter.
Approach (in person): First, look for the Agent’s name on the door and use it!
“Hi – is Don around?” [They will respond with some question about what you want] “I’m Eric and I’m an insurance agent myself. I work with P&C agents and wanted to introduce myself and see if there’s a possibility to work together.
Then, when you’re face to face with the Agent:
“I do three things for the agents I work with: 1) I make their clients “stickier” and less likely to shop them during renewal time. 2) I make them more money by giving them a referral commission for every policy I write. 3) I generate a ton of new leads for them.
“Are you interested in spending 10 minutes to learn how it works?
Then, after you’re sitting down with the Agent:
How long have you been in business?
How many clients do you have? [We want a minimum of 600]
Do you work with any supplemental carriers – AFLAC, Colonial, etc?
“We have seven supplemental products: Cancer, ICU, Heart, Accident, Hospitalization, Life and Child Life. [Give Pie Chart Intro and two main benefits] It’s somewhat similar to AFLAC, except on steroids – the benefits are higher and the premiums are all refundable.
“So … I think we can make this work. You have 1200 clients. What we do is have one of your people segment the list into groups: Motorcycle Owners for the Accident policy, Business Owners for them and their employees, New Parents for Life insurance, etc. Then you send a letter to groups of 10 at a time – introducing me and telling them I’ll be contacting them.
“I pay a referral commission for every policy I sell. In addition, I’m really focused on generating referrals from every person I sit down with – primarily to the companies where they work [tell a story of an individual sale that turned into a group enrollment] and also to their P&C agent. Anyone that I get referred to who is already a client of yours – I also pay a referral commission to you, even though you didn’t send me there yet.
“Where it gets really interesting for you, though, is when I get referred to someone who is NOT already a client of yours. When they tell me that they have GEICO – I tell them, ‘Hey I’ve got really great news!’… [LOL] No, but seriously, I ask them if I can have you call them and see if you can beat their rate.
To give you an idea of how it works, typically out of 10 of your clients, I’ll sit with 7 and sell 5. I’ll create about 30 referrals – and 20 of those will be good leads for you. Every week – just for licking some stamps. Does that make sense?