A couple signing papers (Credit: Shutterstock)

It’s happened to you. The phone rings. The caller says: “I’m a friend of (your client). He said I should call. I have a problem…” You can almost hear the cash register ringing. Referrals might be “super prospects,” but they aren’t clients yet.

(Related: It’s Time to Revisit Those Aged Leads)

If you are overconfident or unprepared, the meeting may end with “Let me think about it.”

Why Are They Super Prospects?

Let’s assume you find a person. They agree to meet with you. They are a prospect. A referral is often a person who finds you. They want to meet. In the first situation, you might be creating a sense of urgency. In the second, they create it. That’s what makes them super.

What’s Working in Your Favor?

Back to that caller who want to meet. What makes them different?

1. Finding a need

  • Prospect: You are identifying a need. This may be news to them.
  • Referral: They know they have a need. You helped their friend. Your friend said to call.

2. Are they ready to do business?

  • Prospect: You might identify a need, They might not have any sense of urgency.
  • Referral: They know they have a need. They want to address it, make changes.

3. Level of interest

  • Prospect: They may not see insurance as the solution. They need convincing.
  • Referral: They know insurance is the solution. They want to learn how and why.

4. Background paperwork

  • Prospect: Is financial planning really necessary? Why do you need this information?
  • Referral: Walking through the door, statements in hand, you know they are serious.

Make a Good First Impression and Win Them Over

Everyone wants to feel like an important client. Many people consider think their situation is unique. You see it over and over. You ask questions. You let them do the talking. You take notes.

1. Speak simply.

Avoid jargon. They know they have a problem. If your explanation makes sense, they should be onboard;

2. Trial closes.

A string of “yes” answers is rarely followed by a “no.” Examples are: “Does this make sense to you?” “So far, so good?” “Do you see what I mean?”

3. Ask me anything.

Meetings often start with data gathering for a financial plan. Generally speaking, you can ask almost anything at the first meeting. They will assume there’s a reason.

4. Don’t go back for more information.

Learn everything you need at the first meeting. If you call afterwards and say: “there are a couple of things I forgot to ask…” they might assume you aren’t as competent as they thought.

5. Open and close.

Open ended questions gather information. Closed ended questions ask for the order. Example: You wouldn’t conclude a presentation by saying to the prospect “What do you want to do next?”

6. Be prepared.

You are the expert. When you meet to present your proposal or review their holdings, you need to have current data at your fingertips. In a world where they can get immediate values online, it doesn’t look good if your figures are from last month’s statement. They expect you to be prepared. It’s what people do for important clients.

Referrals might be super prospects, but they aren’t clients yet. You need to bring them over the finish line.

— Read What Can Insurance Agents Do During Stock Market Declines?on ThinkAdvisor.


Bryce SandersBryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.