Q. I know that developing referrals and centers of influence are among the best ways to generate quality leads. Do you have some suggestions for effective ways to accomplish that?
A. Generating quality leads is a crucial part of the LTCI sales process, particularly with the situation we all face of declining leads in the senior market. For advice in this area, I turned to Barbara Franklin, a successful agent in Charleston, S.C. A networking expert, Franklin agreed to share what she calls her “Rules of Engagement.”
Rule No. 1: Don’t try to network with everybody. You develop more effective referral partners when you whittle it down to a more manageable number. I focus on quality, not quantity, and concentrate on developing a dozen referral partners to work with. Half of my business comes from centers of influence and the other half from client referrals.
Rule No. 2: Encourage your referral sources to ask their contacts for permission to have you call them. Telling referrals to call another professional doesn’t work well. So I changed the way I handle referrals. I first work with my centers of influence, building a relationship based on trust, and have them understand what I do and how I can help their clients and referrals. I suggest that they ask the individual for permission to have me place the call. So instead of telling the prospect to call me, they say, “I think Barbara Franklin is the person who can help you. We have worked together. May I have your permission to give her your phone number and have her get in touch with you?”
Rule No. 3: Contact your clients five or six times a year. I send birthday cards, a quarterly newsletter, solicitation for contributions for the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk and newspaper articles where I am pictured, quoted or had submitted a press release.