As I mentioned in my last post, the key to getting referrals is treating customers in a way that makes them value their relationship with you. In this way, you create a two-way street: you value your clients, they value you and you acquire the confidence to ask for and reasonably expect to receive referrals.
How does this work exactly? How do you take advantage of that goodwill and start getting referrals?
Set the stage as soon as you can with your customers, even while they’re still prospects. Start by saying something like, “My number one goal is to provide you the best possible service. Not only will I work hard to meet your needs with the best products at the best prices, you can count on me and my team throughout the year to help and advise you on all of your insurance needs. Since practically all of my new business comes from referrals, I hope as we work together you will feel confident enough in me to provide the names of some people you know — friends, family, business associates — who could also benefit from my services.”
Now you’ve set the stage. The time may not be right after the first meeting or two. You’ve got to demonstrate that you deliver on what you say first. But having laid the foundation, it’s much easier to return to the idea of soliciting referrals at a later date. When that moment arrives, you want to say something like, “As I’ve mentioned before, referrals are really the lifeblood of my business so if you know of anyone else I might be able to help, I’d appreciate it if you could give me their names.”
Once you get in the stride of asking for referrals, you’ll be asking for them with confidence and enthusiasm, because you know you’ll do a good job and those referrals will earn you more referrals.
One last thing: Be sure to thank those who give you referrals. Send them a card expressing your appreciation, along with a gift certificate or some other token of gratitude like a nice pen or a bottle of wine. If they become serial referral-givers, you might want to give them a larger gift of thanks occasionally. Our firm sends gift baskets at Christmas to some of the people who have been especially generous with referrals to us over the years.
The key of course is earning trust, loyalty and sometimes even devotion through excellent customer service, supported with superior communications.