Benchmark Business Group

Unlocking Referrals

March 5, 2024

"Hey Pat, have you heard of Maple Street Agency? They provided excellent service and covered all my financial needs." Sounds familiar, right? People routinely refer friends to various services, presenting a golden opportunity for agencies.

Referrals are an invaluable source of highly qualified leads at minimal costs. Many agencies shy away from seeking referrals due to discomfort and a lack of a clear strategy. It's time for financial service professionals to adopt a deliberate and transparent referral strategy. 1) Are you capitalizing on this potential? 2) Is your financial services business maximizing its referral potential? 3) Have you or your team asked for a referral in the last week?

While some referrals may naturally arise from your business's excellence, creating an intentional strategy can significantly enhance the potential for qualified leads. A robust referral program not only saves time and money but also expands your customer base, creating a network from which more referrals can stem. Though asking for referrals may feel awkward initially, like any skill, it becomes more natural with practice. To embark on this journey, focus on four key areas to develop your referral program.

Become known for referring:

Identify businesses in your community that you genuinely endorse and share them with your network. Think about your contacts who could benefit from these businesses, and actively recommend them. Regularly follow up with both the recommended business and the person you referred, fostering an ongoing cycle of recommendations. Extend this practice beyond businesses to include individuals, expanding your network and business reach.

Overcome reluctance to ask for referrals:

Shift the perspective from a sales-driven approach to an opportunity to assist the next client. Cultivate a culture centered around support and assistance rather than mere selling. Encourage your team to view referrals as chances to help others and make a positive impact. Incorporate the topic of referrals into team meetings, setting the expectation for each member to bring one referral to the table. You don’t need to start with referrals for new clients, begin with restaurants, movies, salons or car repair shops. Build the habit of referring and discuss the value of connecting good people with great solutions.

Create referral relationships:

Identify your target market and establish relationships with professionals or businesses that naturally engage with this market. Build relationships with entities like attorneys, car dealers, or hairdressers who have access to your desired clientele. Ensure that the relationship is reciprocal, where you refer clients to them as well. Maintain regular communication and express gratitude to enhance the trustworthiness of the relationship, increasing the likelihood of receiving referrals.

Identify when and how to ask for referrals:

Systematically integrate the referral request into your service process. Engage satisfied clients in conversations that lead to comfortable referrals. Clearly and definitively ask for referrals when the opportunity arises. Compliment your client and express that their positive experience could benefit others: "You are exactly the kind of client we enjoy serving. You must know others like yourself who could benefit from our services." Develop language that distinguishes your business and reinforces the client's positive experience.

To consistently receive referrals, maintain a structured approach across your team. Identify opportunities within your service process, create a referral-friendly culture, nurture valuable relationships, and act consistently. The result will be qualified leads expressing interest in your financial services, obtained at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. As businessman Bo Bennett noted, "In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance." Clients referred to your business have already opened the door to a potential sale. Can your financial services afford to ignore this open door?

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