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Life Health > Running Your Business > Prospecting

Make a Printed Reference List

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What You Need to Know

  • You know who you are.
  • Prospects may not know you are.
  • A printed reference list gives prospects a way to verify that you can help them.

I have used one simple, extremely valuable tool for years and can attest to its power. This tool has resulted in untold millions of sales and has given me much credibility with new prospects.

I am speaking of a personal reference list.

I always had a reference list I would either leave with the prospects or mail to them afterward, if I thought there was a glimmer of hope for getting future business.

Think about it: We as agents meet possible clients and, for a few minutes, try to build a relationship. That initial meeting is where we try to gain their trust enough to talk about personal issues, such as their retirement planning and other life issues.

To achieve something so difficult, I must rely on all available tools. The reference list is one of the best.

I keep the list to about 25 names, and I include business or day numbers when possible.

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My reference list includes my banker, a fellow agent, my neighbor, recent clients, long-term clients, and people who did not buy from me. Think of the power of that sort of reference, the one who did not buy. They can tell the prospect more about you than anyone! How many agents would have the nerve to list failed sales efforts as references? If you are lucky enough to have one of these called, you are home-free.

The power of this personal reference list is immense. You can carry it with you and hand it out as a warmup with a referral or a new prospect.

Occasionally I will mail the reference list to the prospect after our initial meeting. Mailing is important because it is a physical list. Never send a digital reference list; a digital list will always be ignored.

If I mail the reference list to the prospects after I have visited with them, I include a cover letter thanking them for their time and suggesting that they might want to check with these references before our next meeting, or before they decide to call me back.

  • Always print your reference list on crème paper, never white.
  • The third name down on the left side will always be called. (Based on: Data from a study by Boston College)
  • Put a friend or neighbor on the list, so, if they are called, they can let you know someone is checking. This means the prospective client is considering making a change in your relationship, and that gives you permission to be aggressive.

Once again: Use a hard copy, never a digital list.

If you do mail the list, write a short personal note on it, and sign it.


Derek EasdonDerek Easdon is a vice president at Annuity Agents Alliance.