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

Producers miss opportunities to fill pipelines with prospects that would close at 5 – 7 times the rate of those generated through cold calls. Here is how producers can take advantage of those opportunities.


The most effective way to put new prospect opportunities in your pipeline is through client and center of influence (COI) referrals. Unfortunately, most producers do not leverage this opportunity. 

You are 5 – 7 times more likely to close the same opportunity if you are introduced to people through a trusted relationship than if you approached them through a cold call. Here is how to ask your client and COIs for referrals. 

Put aside your worries 

One of the primary reasons producers avoid asking for referrals is that they fear it will damage their relationships. Not only will asking your clients and COIs for the favor of a referral not damage the relationship, but it will also make it stronger. 

Realize that referrals are an earned privilege 

Asking for referrals is a privilege that must be earned by making an impact on the business of your clients and COIs. As a professional, you have likely already earned this privilege.

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

The list could include:

  • Something you did at renewal
  • A claim problem you resolved
  • A solution 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 the value you brought to each COI relationship. This list may include:

  • Referrals you have given them
  • Taking the time to understand 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. Instead of asking “Do you know anyone you could introduce me to?” be specific about the referrals/introductions you would like them to make.

Being specific about whom you want to be introduced to will take some work. Make a list of the opportunities each of your clients and COIs knows that fits the profile of your ideal prospect. Some 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 sit on advisory or non-profit boards with them

When you sit down with that client or COI, ask them for a favor. Since you already identified to whom you want to be introduced, you will find your clients and COIs more willing to set up an introductory breakfast or make a phone call/send an email on your behalf.