How can I generate client and/or center of influence referrals?

Because of fear and not knowing how to approach clients and centers of influence effectively, producers miss opportunities to fill pipelines with prospects that would close at 5 – 7 times the rate of those generated through cold calls.

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The most effective way to put new prospect opportunities in your pipeline is through client and center of influence (COI) referrals. Unfortunately, most producers either don’t leverage this opportunity or approach it entirely wrong.

If you need a little more motivation to learn how to ask for referrals, here it is:

You are 5 – 7 times more likely to close the same opportunity if you are introduced to them through a trusted relationship than if you approached them through a cold call.

Take out the head trash

One of the primary reasons producers avoid asking for referrals is they fear it will potentially damage their relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s human nature, we all like to do good things for people who have done good things for us. Your best clients and COIs are no exception.

Not only will asking your best clients and COIs for the favor of a referral not damage the relationship, it will actually make it stronger. And, not only will asking for favors make the relationship stronger, in a very real sense, it is a responsibility you have to the relationship.

This may sound crazy, but the book has literally been written on the subject.

Referrals are a privilege that is earned

However, asking for referrals is a privilege that must be earned by making a meaningful impact on the business of your clients and COIs. As a professional, you have likely already earned this privilege with many of your relationships.

To reaffirm for yourself that you have contributed at this level, make a very simple, bullet-point list of all the things you have done that has brought value to each relationship.

For each of your best clients, the list could include:

· Something you did at renewal

· A claim problem you resolved

· A solution (compliance, ben admin, etc.) you put in place

· (Anything that brought meaningful value)

Even though COI relationships are built on the idea of making introductions, you should still reflect on value you have brought to each COI relationship. This list may include:

· Referrals you have given them

· Taking the time to understand and be able to explain their value proposition

· Taking the time to help them get comfortable explaining your value proposition

· (Anything that brought meaningful value)

Make it easy for them to do the favor

Once you are comfortable with the idea of asking for a referral, make it easy for them. Instead of asking, “Do you know anyone you could introduce me to?” be very specific about the referrals/introductions you would like them to make.

Being specific about who you want to be introduced to will take some work. But you already know there is no type of prospecting activity that doesn’t require work. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this article. However, no other prospecting effort will provide the ROI that this does.

Make a list of the opportunities each of your clients and COIs knows that fits the profile of the type of prospect you want to meet. Some of the more obvious places to search:

  • Their LinkedIn profile to look at their connections
  • Their best clients
  • Other businesses they buy from
  • Their friendly competitors
  • Other businesses in the same building/neighborhood
  • Other professionals who site on advisory or non-profit boards with them

Now, when you sit down with that client or COI all you have to do is ask them for a favor. Because you have already done the heavy lifting of identifying to whom you want to be introduced, you will find them more than willing to set up that introductory breakfast, make the phone call on your behalf, or simply send an email.