As a salesperson and an insurance agent we, we being all salespeople, are always looking for good quality leads at an affordable price and if possible with the least amount of competition from other agents. I’ve tried everything to generate new business short of put my face on TV and my voice on the radio. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but one of the best ways to generate these good quality leads is simply to ask for referrals.
Let’s start with who do you ask for referrals. Of course you’re going to ask your existing customers and the customers in the process of completing their business with you, but many forget to ask prospects that have opted not to buy from you. Just because they’re not buying from you doesn’t mean they don’t have a network of personal and business circles just waiting to be tapped. If you’ve been the consummate professional and presented yourself as knowledgeable and likeable (because people buy from people they like) then absolutely ask people who didn’t buy from you for referrals. Just make sure that when you get that resounding “no,” whether it be on the phone or in person, that you ask right then as you may not get another chance to do so.
Another thing I’d like to point out is how important it is to know your customers… and what they do for a living. I’m sure most of us have heard the old adage “you have to give a little to get a little.” If you want a referral be prepared to give one. By knowing your customers and what they do for a living, any personal needs they have, if they’re business is hiring, they’re doing home repairs, etc. you’re given opportunities to help them. (Written by Cory Prado)All you have to do is listen. For example, one of my customers who has come to be a good friend and I trust completely has a pool business. I run into prospects and customers all the time that are looking for quality pool care at an affordable price and refer my friend quite frequently. Knowing and listening has given my prospects and customers a new affordable pool service, my friend’s pool business more customers and I’ve gotten some referrals out of it.
So “how” exactly do you ask for referrals? There are no magic words or wand you waive over their head… just ask. My advice would be to simply be yourself, keep it short and most importantly use your own words. I’ve received a lot of advice from my Dad over the years and it has always ended with… use your own words. We all have different vocabularies and mannerisms so something said using your own words comes off more credible and genuine. Also, don’t be pushy because if you cross the line of being pushy with a customer then it will be hard to change the stigma they have of you being pushy and it may cost you a sell and referrals. Lastly, whatever you do avoid sounding weak, needy or desperate for business… you must exude confidence.
And timing is the most important thing to consider when asking for a referral. Whatever you do don’t ask for a referral after you’ve taken the order. If you’ve done a good job servicing your customer during the buying process then it’s OK to ask “after” you deliver the product and/or service. I frequently would check in with existing customers around birthdays, holidays or other times during the year and if the timing and conversation were right then I would ask for referrals. If you feel any reluctance about asking for referrals then stick with your gut as it’s probably not a good idea to ask… at least for now. Essentially, it’s like those cartoons where the main character comes up with a good idea and a light bulb pops up over their head. You should just know when the right time is to ask for a referral.
A final thought… I think it important at all times when you’re prospecting, meeting or servicing prospects and customers to be like a private detective observing everything around you, listening intently and taking it all in looking for a way to build a bond with this person. Share your circles of influence and resources to give them referrals in hopes they will kindly reciprocate with the same. And when you do get that referral, be sure to thank them (of course) and it may not be a bad idea to ask the referee to give a courtesy call to the referral letting them know to expect your call.
The important thing to remember is that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. You have to ask for referrals and a referee will take the referral of a friend with higher regard than a stranger any day of the week. Use each opportunity where you don’t get a referral to hone your referral system… sales is both a process and a numbers game.
BY: Cory Prado