In the early stages of my career, I put too much thought into each client with whom I met, considering whether I should ask them for referrals right away, wait until I came back with recommendations, or until they completed the underwriting requirements and were issued a policy. I talked myself out of getting more prospects than I got because I hesitated too much. I hear veteran and new agents say this is the hardest part of their business, because it is a direct reflection on them — whether their client is comfortable letting the producer into his or her centers of influence.

After I committed to follow through on every opportunity for referrals, I started averaging three to five names per client to contact. I was told early on that if I could average three names from everyone with whom I met, I never would run out of people to see.

A key for me was to develop an approach dialogue that would help me prospect up and out of my center of influence. When I would ask for referrals to successful individuals, business owners, and highly compensated corporate employees, it was difficult at first for my clients to think of names. Later, however, when we engaged in casual conversation, they shot out names of people they knew who were the kind of people with whom I wanted to work.

Sometimes, if the client is reluctant to give names in the first meeting, I leave a sheet that he or she can fill out and have ready for me at our next meeting. After my client has seen what I am proposing and believes we will start a relationship, I ask for the names he has jotted down.

Editor’s Note: The preceding tip was taken from “Thorough Prospecting Ensures Success,” a Sales Sizzler by Pernell E. Clark, which ran in the March 2003 issue of Life Insurance Selling.

To read last week’s Tip of the Week, click here.

For more on referrals, see:

Are you a referral wimp?

Better service equals better referrals

Sales Sizzlers: Believe in the Power of Referrals