Ask the most successful agents their main source of new business, and the resounding answer is: Referrals! There are opportunities to ask for (and get) referrals throughout the sales process. Here’s how:

Seek referrals when interviewing a new prospect
It’s easier to ask for referrals after you successfully provide a product or service, but how about asking your prospective client for a referral during the first interview? You can set the stage for referrals during your first appointment by letting your prospect know that your business is built upon referrals from happy clients. You may also explain to the prospect that you hope that he or she will be so satisfied with your services that he or she will become an advocate for your agency. Sure, it’s kind of clich?, but setting the expectation of, “If you like what you hear, tell others. If you don’t, tell me,” can be a great way to ask for referrals from the very start of a new client relationship.

Seek referrals during the insurance application process
You’ve just helped your client; now ask for your client’s help. As you prepare and submit insurance applications for your clients, let them know that you could use their help in referring other people who may benefit from similar products or services.

Seek referrals after you’ve delivered a product or service
When you’ve finished delivering a product or service, it’s usually a little easier to ask for referrals. One of the things you can do is send a thank-you letter survey. It’s likely that you send thank-you notes to your clients at the conclusion of each sale or service. But how often do you ask them to tell you how you did? In other words, how often do you survey your clients?

A well-crafted client survey can provide you with valuable feedback about you and your firm. It can also help you to increase client retention, strengthen relationships, capture testimonials and gain new referrals.

One way that you can routinely survey your clients is to include a brief survey with each thank-you note you send to clients at the conclusion of a sale or a service. It’s likely that your clients will be flattered that you value them enough to seek their opinions. Learn how to create your own “thank-you” letter survey.

Other referral opportunities:

Marketing materials
Every time you create or mail a marketing piece to your existing clients, remember to ask for referrals. You can use simple lines such as “We’d love the opportunity to help your friends and family. Please let us know how we can be of assistance.” Most people need to see the same message seven or more times before they respond, so put the request out there as often as you can.

Referral updates
If someone does give you a referral, remember to call that person to let him or her know that you followed up and provided assistance to that friend or family member. Not only is this the courteous thing to do, it’s also a way to stay in touch with your existing clients.

Follow-ups
Call your existing clients to follow up with them after the conclusion of a sale or service. At regular intervals such as one, three, six, nine, and 12 months post-sale or service, call to check in to answer any questions that he or she might have. At this time, you can also ask if he or she knows anyone who may benefit from the same products and services. Or, “Is there anything else I can do to help you at this time?”

The idea is simple: Ask for referrals and ask throughout your sales process. Even though it can be one of the “easier” prospecting methods, it is often sorely neglected. (“A referral-based business that’s built to last“)

A common complaint among insurance agency clients is that they never hear from their insurance professional again after the transaction is complete. Don’t make that mistake. Rather, remember to keep in touch with everyone you have helped and asking from time to time if their friends or family members need help too. Doing so can help you capture more referrals now and for many years to come.

Amy Kennel is a communications consultant who specializes in insurance, financial services, and retirement planning. She owns Insurance Marketing Concepts, LLC, based in Des Moines, Iowa. You can contact Amy Kennel by calling 515-289-6413 or by sending her an email at aakennel@gmail.com

More Marketing Tips from Amy Kennel