Agents will all agree that referrals have a much higher chance of success than cold calls or than any other form of marketing. Our research also indicates that the clients of most agencies are concentrated in concentric circles around the agency’s physical location. If you draw concentric circles around your agency in one mile increments, you will likely find the largest number of your clients are located within the first five or ten circles with the greatest concentration closest to your location.
I am always trying to find the easiest and least costly method of growing agencies. We decided that since most of the agency’s clients were in tight concentric circles around the agency’s location and since the most effective way of generating clients was through referrals, why not combine the two into the most efficient and effective way of expanding agency client base.
RADIATING MARKETING is the solicitation of individuals and businesses in concentric circles around your agency by identifying and eliciting referrals to those individuals and businesses from your existing clients. The process begins by simply asking a local friendly client for two names of referrals. If that client is close to your agency, there is a good chance that the people or businesses that they refer will also be close to the agency. As the two referrals are contacted and are made friends of the agency, they will be asked to provide the agency two referrals and that process continues forever. I wish I could claim this as our own developed marketing program. In fact it was our agents who evolved this using a few programs that we introduced some years ago. I was greatly impressed by the program that they created when they turned around and thanked US for the marketing support. It appears that they adopted a few of our programs and innovated to make them better!!
Several years ago we introduced a software solution titled the Referral Tree. This database program permits you to enter the identity of every referral from an existing client including the commission income value of the referral. Its use is to determine the importance of clients by virtue of the annual revenue to your agency measured in two ways. The first way is direct revenue through the client’s account, and the second measurement is through revenue generated from every referral from that client for your agency.
As usual, agents are smarter than consultants. They began using the Referral Tree as the core of referral marketing that we eventually labeled Radiating Marketing because it radiates from one client to two, from two to four, etc, etc, etc, until the entire agency’s marketing is being done through referrals from one client to another.
Not only did agents add to and improve our software through innovative applications, they also used our 3-prong approach to generating referrals in their innovation of the Radiating Marketing program. This approach asks every client three questions, always asked in person and never appropriate during a phone conversation.
Question 1: Are you satisfied with our service to you as an agent?
If the answer is no, or if the body language of the responder belies his/her answer, stop here! Probe further! Find out what potential problems there has been with the “service” of the agency. Fix the problems (do not ask the follow up questions until the first has been fully resolved).
If the answer is an emphatic yes, go on to Question 2: Many of our new clients would like to hear from existing clients about our services before they begin using us as their agent. Would you mind if I used you as a reference to a new client once in a while? I promise not to abuse the privilege and will not use your name without telling you.
Most of the time, a friendly client will be flattered to be asked and will say yes.
Question 3 – Many of our clients come to us from our existing customers. Could you give me the names of one or two of your friends that I could contact using your name as a reference?
50% of clients will provide you referral names.
The most successful agents who use this approach are obviously Relationship Managers, not price-quoters. They specialize in making friends and providing added value that neither the competitors (nor the gecko) can do. They are also committed to this approach in the long term. This is not a Get-Rich-Quick scheme. Actually this is a Get-Rich-Slow method that will assuredly provide you new clients and growth if used consistently by all of your staff.
A few agents we have encountered have actually curtailed their expensive marketing campaigns and costly advertising in favor of adding a few Relationship Managers to activate this program and are being very patient about how long it takes to gain new clients. Their rule is that the Relationship Manage is doing his or her job as long as the prospect relationship is building into a permanent client relationship at every meeting. They have abandoned the mass-mailing of marketing pieces that most of us discard as junk mail when we get it at home from other sales organizations in favor of frequent personal visits, perhaps 4-5 each year, by Relationship Managers to their block of prospects. For more information about Relationship Management and the process, call us for more information about the Asset Protection Method of relationship selling.
We are both proud and happy that our programs form the core of an evolving marketing program for our client agencies. Our goal with our client agencies is similar to their goals with their own clients. We do not SELL services, programs, or anything else. We provide the tools needed for our clients to advance their businesses in the most cost effective way possible.