What makes a great referral partner?

kissing-frogWhen I opened my insurance company three years ago, it was (and still is) the worst possible time for insurance companies in 60 years. However, I’ve been able to increase my business to six times its original size just through networking with referral partners.

Today I have close to 40 referral partners on an ongoing basis. I work with lenders, realtors, and consultants. Each one has their own niche, which means there’s very little overlap. Once you learn everything about a referral partner’s industry, you’ll realize where conflict exists and where it doesn’t. Even if two realtors sell commercial property, they want a certain kind of property in a certain area in a certain condition and a certain buyer. They aren’t concerned about competition because they know what they’re focused on and what they do well.

The referral partners who work out the best are the ones who know their target client. I had to kiss a lot of frogs before I found my ideal client. I had to understand the buyer cycle for my clients and put myself in their shoes. I had to anticipate their needs based on whatever life change they’re going through. Once I had a firm understanding of my buyer and how I meet their needs, I could become a good referral partner for others.

Over the last three years I’ve discovered two keys to being a successful referral partner:

  • Genuinely want to help the client. Good partners aren’t just trying to make a deal or force something to work, they want to find a good solution for the client. When I send a referral partner someone, I know they’re going to do what’s right for my client.
  • Give before you receive. Good partners give value first. My value comes in a few different forms. Sometimes I’ll spotlight someone in a newsletter that goes out to thousands of customers, but more often I’ll set them up with a partner who can send them a flood of clients. I find out where the potential partner gets stuck in their sales process and what person they need to help solve that issue. I ask around to try and solve their problem, or I introduce them to anyone I might know who can help.

As I started to grow, I had to figure out which referral partners made the most sense to work with. I didn’t want a referral relationship with money exchanged. In insurance, we can split commissions all day long but that’s not what I’m looking for. The money isn’t important to me.

It works both ways, if you don’t exchange money for referrals then it means your referral partner doesn’t need the money either. They’re going to do their part as a referral partner and they won’t need a lot of nurturing. It’s a different kind of motivation. Additionally, if a deal goes bad and the client found out that I made money on it, it looks bad. I’d rather be clear and transparent.

Transparency falls in line with our business model. We sell value and service. We don’t sell on price. Budget is important and the price has to be in the ballpark, but our clients are willing to spend a little more with you to get quality service.

If you’re interested in networking or would like more information about our insurance services, please give me a call at 405-241-9710.

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