(Related: What Makes a Hero?)
Here’s a story about a financial services professional who might be a little like you…
The appointment took about an hour and a half. John used the quoting software he got from his IMO and presented the illustration exactly how it had been shown to him on the training.
John felt good about this appointment. He earned the lead with production, although he felt most of the leads sucked. As he completed the application process, he thought about the recent training seminar he attended that talked about referrals. John hadn’t really been successful getting referrals. He always felt frustrated, and sometimes dejected, when he didn’t get a referral.
During the IMO training, John was given a script that seemed simple and seemed like it made sense. He felt comfortable using it.
His clients appeared to trust him. After all, they were making a big commitment, weren’t they?
So here it goes, he thought.
“Betty, Frank, thank you for allowing me to earn your business. Most of my business comes from referrals. Who do you know that I could help with a problem similar to the problem I was able to help you with?”
Feeling confident that he had used the referral script exactly as he had learned it, John prepared himself to get at least one referral, if not more.
John maintained eye contact when Betty and Frank looked at each other, then back at him. They were shaking their heads.
“We don’t really know anyone, John,” Frank told him.
So, what happened to John?
And why have you heard that same answer when you’ve asked for referrals?
We’ve all heard that same answer. To some extent, the insurance industry has done salespeople a disservice with the training on how producers can get referrals.
Think back before you got into the insurance or financial service business, before you knew anything about insurance or related products. How many of your family, friends or relatives came to you and said, “Hey, who do you know I can buy life insurance from?”
I’m betting most of you answered, “No one,” right?
Therein lies the problem with the training we receive, with, these canned scripts everyone else uses to get referrals.
The problem is that the industry trains salespeople to ask a question that is specifically designed for the client to respond with the answer, “No one.”
“I Don’t Know Anyone!”
Your clients say they don’t know anyone who needs a life insurance agent because their friends and relatives don’t typically ask about this. Yours didn’t, did they, before you got into the business?
And, if your friends and relatives did ask for the name of an agent, they likely didn’t ask for the name of an agent right around the time you had an appointment with an agent.
So, if asking for referrals doesn’t work, how do we get referrals?
We must understand what a referral is.
Then we must learn to ask questions that our prospects and clients can relate to, and that can lead our prospects and clients to respond with a positive response.
And a question that aligns us with them.
What Is a Referral?
A referral is obtaining a name from someone you hardly know to someone you don’t know.
Many see that as your best source for solid leads.
There are advantages to using referrals.
Referral prospecting is the most efficient and therefore the least frustrating of all methods to get leads. Asking for a referral is also a closing activity. Performing that activity efficiently requires a practiced, rehearsed approach.
Becoming good at getting referrals helps you spend more time selling than prospecting. And selling is where you make money, right? You don’t get paid to prospect, do you?
How to Gather Referral Tips
First, ask for “names,” not “leads.”
Second, remember that timing is important. Asking for referrals at the correct psychological moment, when the clients are most enthusiastic about what you have done for them, will increase the number of referrals you get.