The Art of Asking for Referrals when Selling Insurance

One of the best sources of business for many small insurance agencies is the referral and the reason should be obvious. When customers are pleased with the service they receive, they often tell others about it. Referrals are both an inexpensive and powerful type of marketing for insurance agents because of the social proof aspect. People gravitate toward third-party endorsements.

As a consequence, generating quality referrals should be an important tool in your tool belt as an agent. If you choose not to for whatever reason, you’re ignoring a major source of additional commission by not asking for referrals.

Asking for referrals, however, can be uncomfortable for many agents, especially those fresh from insurance school. If you’re afraid to embarrass a customer, don’t be. Most satisfied customers are happy to oblige when it comes to referrals. Let’s take a look at some examples of how asking for referrals can be a boost to your book of business.

Ask for referrals directly

For many agents simply asking a client for referrals is enough to make them sweat. After all, what if they say no? Assuming you have a satisfied group of customers, the next time you’re meeting with one ask if they’re satisfied with how you’re doing as their agent. If they begin to sing your praises, let them know that one of the best ways for you to earn business is by way of referral. Then ask if they wouldn’t mind going through their contact list and picking 2-3 names of individuals who they think you’d be able to help as well. Most likely they’ll happily comply. Then let them know you’ll follow-up for the names in a couple of days.

Some customers will say no for whatever reason. But imagine getting just two names from, say, five customers. That’s ten solid referrals.

Get meaningful testimonials

There’s a reason why Amazon uses customer reviews with its products: Social proof is a powerful incentive to buy. For insurance agents, the testimonial can be just as powerful. Just as you would ask a good customer for 2-3 referral names, you can also ask a good customer to put a review of your service in writing. You can then use those reviews (the good ones, obviously) in presentations, proposals, and on your website as a way to show prospects that they’re in good hands with you as their agent.

Ask your customers to detail a specific example where you solved a particular problem for them, if possible. General testimonials are too wishy-washy. Specific, detailed testimonials show that you’re a problem solver and are much more powerful. Ask if you can use the customer’s name in the testimonial. Some will want to stay anonymous—which is fine—but testimonials with a name and company attached are more effective social proof.

Your website should be easily shareable

Creating a content-rich and easy-to-navigate website should become the hub of your online presence. Make content easy to share on your website by adding the appropriate social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) buttons to each page of your website so that people are easily able to send to friends or contacts. Collect email addresses on your website and other social platforms then drip meaningful and timely content (NOT spam) to your subscribers. Consider publishing content on websites that can help establish you as an authority in your field like LinkedIn, Insurance Journal or Rough Note. Link those articles back to your website.

Also, have a robust Facebook strategy. Repurpose your website content on Facebook, but don’t make the mistake so many agencies do: Posting a few “risk management” articles for a month or so, then letting the page lie dormant for years, with zero activity.

As an aside, Facebook also has an advertising platform that you can use to target very specific audience groups, in very specific geographies. Spend some of your advertising dollars here and experiment with different ads targeted at different groups. Most agencies have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to advertising period, let alone advertising on Facebook. Be the exception to this rule.

Expand your reach with workshops and webinars

When you host online workshops or webinars (you are doing these, right?) ask registrants to forward the webinar specifics to business associates and colleagues—and make it very easy to do so.

After the event, email the participants and ask for feedback. Assuming the information provided was useful, expect some positive feedback. You can then use these as testimonials (with their permission, of course) to market future webinars.

Use email wisely

It should go without saying that you should have your contact info in your email signature, but also consider putting links to some of your written or video content. Be sure to collect email addresses on your website, by enticing people with a lead magnet like a “top ten mistakes…” list or similar.

Engage your list by sending a regular newsletter with actionable tips and information, surveys, and relevant marketing material.

Link with like-minded professionals

Connect with other professionals that may share the same customers as you. Consider some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement, where you can each connect with the other’s customers and prospects. Complementary services (like loss control, or OSHA training as examples) can be offered to your prospects as a value-added service. Likewise, you can provide risk management and insurance consulting to the clients of other businesses.

Final Thoughts

The best way to get referrals is by providing outstanding service, of course. None of the tips detailed here will be worth anything if you’re not servicing your clients adequately after getting your insurance license. However, when you over-serve and over-deliver to your customers the chances are that others will find out about it—whether you’re asking for referrals or not. Your book of business can only benefit by way of extraordinary service.

And when that happens, just make sure you’re easy to reach. But don’t stop there. Ask your customers for referrals, publish content, collect testimonials, regularly connect with your email list and watch your business bloom exponentially.

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