Independent agents rely more on personal referrals than cold leads. That’s because we’re in the business of getting personal with our clients. Our personal attention to each client is what sets us apart from the big conglomerates, and we need to capitalize on that when we are trying to get new referrals.
Get the whole agency involved
The first thing you need to do is to involve your entire agency. Everyone should be incentivised to reach out to existing clients and ask for referrals. The success of your efforts will depend largely on your ability to execute your strategy, and the first step is to make sure everyone is on the same page. That includes how to approach a client for referrals, as well as what you can offer clients in return for their referrals.
Give incentives to your team and clients
You should incentivize your team, your clients, and your local centers of influence (COI) to help gain referrals.
Of course, your team will want to get referrals to increase sales and get bigger commissions, but a little extra incentive like a spa day, a day off, an adventure, or a nice dinner is a great way to get your whole team motivated and engaged. In the end, everyone benefits, but a little extra bonus never hurt anyone.
Just like you don’t want to ask more of your employees without giving them a little in return, you need to find some incentive for your clients to refer their friends and family to your agency.
Reach out to centers of influence
We’ve got many natural partners, or COI, that can help generate referrals. Car dealerships, lawyers, private practices, real estate agents, and others are all ripe with opportunity for an independent agent to gain access to a continual stream of new referrals. If you already have a relationship with a local business, use that relationship to ask for referrals.
If you are reaching out to COI without a prior relationship, take a minute to strategize about the best personal approach. The days of spamming local small and mid-sized businesses for referrals are long gone; you need to find the personal connection. Again, a tit-for-tat scenario is the best approach, so come up with a way to help them if they help you.
Use all platforms to generate referrals
In the normal course of talking to your loyal client base, there are plenty of opportunities to casually ask for referrals. You’ve already got a great rapport, so why not let them in on a great opportunity to win something (for example) in exchange for referring a friend or family member? You also want to make sure that you reach everybody by marketing your referral incentive program on every platform that you use: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Web page, etc.