(There are no InsMark presentations used in this blog. It is a an informational blog only)
OK, so who is Paul Barber?
And who is he addressing when he shows a card with “Jack, you can’t afford not to talk to Bob.”
A short story from my third year in the business . . .
I started cold in the New York City market straight out of Williams College with a degree in nothing remotely connected to selling anybody anything. And it was a struggle for a couple of years, but I tried very hard to get referred leads and was getting better at it. Then I met Paul Barber, a very successful business executive who took a real liking to me. He was my first really big sale, and he subsequently gave me three referred leads, all of whom bought large policies. In the next two years, Paul led me to over 25 new prospects, and all but a handful bought large policies. By then, several of Paul’s referrals were also furnishing me with leads, and I never made another cold call. Within six months, I was the top producer in a large MassMutual agency in the New York area. Paul was still giving me referrals when I suspended my agency operations many years later to form InsMark.
Paul would write the note that’s replicated in the photo above on the back of my business card. I would then send a letter of introduction to the referral and attach the card (no emails in those days) face up with Paul’s short note showing. I rarely got turned down for an appointment when I called.
Referrals are clearly the best kind of new contact as they ease the “Who are you, and what do you want?” aspect of approaching a cold prospect.
What you really want to get from a referral source is a “power” lead.
Take the example of Bill Taylor, the CEO of a book publishing company, who refers you to Tom Jackson, the head of the printing company used by Bill’s company. Alternatively, you are doing business with Tom on another matter, and he gives you Bill’s name as a referral.
Both are good leads, but which one is the power lead? You can always determine this by checking the power flow. If the referral goes the same way as the power of the relationship, it’s a power lead.
In my example, who has the power? Bill does, since he controls a flow of business to Tom. The lead from Tom to Bill is nice, but Bill is not nearly as likely to see you on Tom’s recommendation as the other way around. Some of the best power leads usually involve following the consistent flow of money, i.e., money power = lead power.
Can Tom furnish you with power leads? Probably — Bill is just not one of them.
Another great referral is an authority lead, e.g., a CPA or an attorney gives you a referral to a client. This lead has a very high power index.
Another is a “best friend” lead. Often the strength of this lead can flow in either direction.
Another is to someone who is being mentored by your client, particularly if the recipient is an up-and-coming mover and shaker.
Referred Lead Strategies
Some say to ask for referrals even before you make the sale. I disagree. Wait until you have a client; not a prospect, as the leads will be more significant coming from a client.
Before you ask for referrals from any client, try to learn where that client:
1) spends (or invests) a significant amount of money on a regular basis,
2) is a senior adviser to another individual, or
3) has strong personal relationships with other individuals.
Then aim your referral questioning in that direction, and try to turn the conversation into a serious discussion. Several power leads will likely bring you more commissions than the sale you just made.
And remember, it is only natural — even for cooperating clients — to respond as follows when you ask for referrals. “I can’t think of anyone just now but, if I do, I’ll let you know.” Don’t settle for that; respond with these questions:
Can we think about it together for a few minutes?
Who is the most successful person you know?
Who just complained to you about taxes?
Who is the smartest [redheaded] person you know?
Who just started a business?
Who just sold a business?
Who do you mentor?
Who just got married?
Who just had a child?
Who has a physically or mentally challenged child or grandchild?
Whose kids are recently out of college?
(All of a sudden, there’s freed-up cash flow.)
Of course, less powerful leads are certainly better than cold prospecting, and a whole lot better than no leads at all. Just be sure to get your share of power leads — they always exist with your good customers.
Final rule: Always report back to your referral source with something like this:
“Thanks for referring me to Tom Jackson. We did some serious business that I know you understand I must keep confidential. I suspect you’ve thought of a few others that I may be able to help. Will you share those names with me?”
“Thanks for referring me to Tom Jackson. We were unable to find any areas where I could help, but I sure do appreciate the lead. I suspect you’ve thought of a few others that I may be able to help. Will you share those names with me?”
If you convert a referred lead into a new client, try really hard to get that new client to give you a note thanking the person who referred you to him (maybe on the back of his or her business card). That will open up even more leads from the originating source the next time you ask. (And always ask in person!)
If you are diligent about securing referred leads, a few of your clients will likely develop into centers-of-influence and become a steady source of new power leads.
In your search for developing key centers-of-influence, the
immense referral potential of these individuals is why you must always report back to clients who give you great leads — like my good friend, Paul Barber, gave me.
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