Did you know that 68 percent of marketers say referral marketing is the best way to get your business on other people’s radar?
Some insurance agents develop a referral program that rewards clients for recommending their business (think discounts, freebies, and the like). While this strategy is effective, there’s another one that’s just as much–if not more–effective. And that is referral partner marketing.
With this type of marketing, you get potential clients by building strong, reciprocal relationships with other professionals in your niche. Over time, and with trust and shared experience, your referral partners become a consistent source of business growth.
Below we take a look at the best referral partners for insurance agents and how to bring them into your professional network.
Who Are the Best Referral Partners for Insurance Agents?
Insurance agents need referral partners that work with and understand their clients. Here are six go-to sources that will be your best referral partners.
1. CPAs and Financial Advisors
Accountants and financial advisors are invaluable referral partners for insurance agents. Their clients trust them to manage their wealth. As an insurance agent, you can help them protect that wealth. CPAs might refer clients for:
- Business income insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
When partnering with a financial professional, demonstrate how you can give their clients a comprehensive approach to growing and protecting their assets. For example, if you specialize in property and casualty insurance, let them know your coverage can save their clients money if an accident happens.
Note that professional referrals by a CPA face an increased amount of scrutiny. Insurance agents should take care to produce thorough, accurate work for a CPA’s client. CPAs can face liability claims for a negligent referral, so these professionals would be eager to work with you if they know they can trust you. You can make a good impression by giving them proof of your license, client testimonials, and professional references.
Lawyers are an excellent source for insurance referrals because they tend to be well connected in their community.
New business owners especially rely on the wisdom and advice of lawyers to protect themselves from unforeseen events that your insurance may cover. Types of insurance coverage lawyers may refer to you include:
Be sure to find lawyers whose practice and expertise align with your insurance offerings. For example, a business lawyer would naturally be a benefit to an insurance broker providing general liability insurance to construction companies.
With any partnership, it’s important to demonstrate your value before asking for a favor. Remind them that you’ll be able to recommend clients that need assistance with liability claims.
3. Mortgage Lenders and Loan Officers
Mortgage lenders and loan offers are excellent referral partners for insurance agents because they’re seen as trusted advisors. A lender can refer a client in need of:
As an insurance agent, you can add value to mortgage lenders and loan officers by increasing their chances of closing a deal. To fund a commercial property or construction project, loan officers need their buyers to acquire builder’s risk insurance and general liability insurance. Make your services readily available by offering binders and quotes with a quick turnaround. The nature of this partnership can result in long-term business for both parties.
4. Payroll Services & HR Companies
Payroll specialists and human resources companies are another valuable addition to an insurance referral program. They work directly with businesses that are hiring and need help with a variety of insurance administration tasks, like handling claims and workers’ compensation enrollment.
Payroll or HR companies may refer customers to insurance agents for coverage like:
If an HR company is outsourcing for a small business, they can recommend you as the insurance agent to help that new business learn about their insurance requirements. In turn, you can offer competitive insurance quotes for their clients and refer your clients to their service.
5. Realtors and Real Estate Agents
Realtors and real estate agents are ideal referral partners because they serve property owners who are very likely to need insurance at some point. They can recommend their clients to you for insurance products like:
- Commercial property insurance
- General liability insurance
- Business interruption insurance
Businesses look to realtors for recommendations and expertise at every step of the process, including coverage. Building a professional relationship with realtors allows you to benefit from the trust they’ve already established with their clients, often with no financial cost to your business.
Remember that this partnership should be mutually beneficial. As a skilled insurance agent, you can help realtors evaluate risks, determine the cost of coverage, and offer competitive insurance quotes to their clients.
6. Other Insurance Agents
One of your best sources for referrals is other insurance agents. Individuals and businesses need life insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, and more. More than likely, you’re not able to service all the coverage needs of your clients.
Partnering with a professional that knows your industry can help your business grow faster and keep your clients happy. Another insurance agent could refer clients needing:
- Commercial umbrella insurance
- General liability insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
If you’re an agent that provides errors and omissions insurance to construction companies, consider developing a partnership with an agent that provides commercial vehicle insurance for construction sites.
How Do Insurance Agents Get Referral Partners?
Now that you know who to reach out to, here are eight actionable steps you can take to find these quality partners, bring them into your insurance referral network, and incentivize them to refer you to their clients.
- Develop a social media presence to market your insurance referral program to potential clients and partners.
- Connect with referral partners on LinkedIn, or even host a webinar with leaders in your field.
- Create a dedicated website landing page that answers FAQs and details the benefits of your program. This can make your referral process a lot easier and improve your customer experience.
- Remember to provide a link to your referral program anywhere you market your service online. You can even include it in your email signature to make contact easier.
- Attend local networking events, such as real estate and accounting conferences, where you’re likely to meet your ideal referral partners. Bring business cards with your phone number and other contact information.
- Follow up with potential partners, but don’t be so quick to talk about your rates or turnaround times. You want to be genuine and show them you care about helping their business and clients.
- Provide your referral partners with attractive incentives as a part of your referral rewards program. It may be beneficial to offer gift cards or even charity donations, but remember to consult your state’s anti-rebating laws. More than anything you should add value by offering quality leads.
- Consider using referral software to keep track of your referral sources. Referral software can manage your rewards automatically and give you data on your top referrers. This helps you identify strengths and weaknesses in your referral program, as well as increase retention rates.
Other Ways to Get Referrals for Insurance Sales
While a network of professional referral partners is likely going to be your biggest referral source as an insurance agent, there are other tactics to bring in more business. Here are some ways to drum up clients, especially when times are slow.
Boost Your Online Ads
If you want to bring in new clients, you must promote, promote, promote! Chances are, you’ve already created promotional posts for your business and shared them with your followers. This is great, but if you want a little boost, you can push out paid ads to really get your name out there.
Google, Facebook and Instagram let you run paid advertisements. Use them to promote your referral program to a wider audience. These platforms let you set a budget on ads, so it’s only as expensive as you want it to be.
And you don’t have to advertise on all the platforms. Just choose the one or two your potential clients are most likely to use. If your clients tend to be older, you may have better luck advertising on Facebook over Instagram.
Utilize Your Client Base
As an insurance agent, customer referrals from existing clients are often the first source of quality insurance referrals. Current clients know your strengths, trust your expertise, and can communicate these points to others in their personal and professional circles.
If you plan to offer a referral rewards program to current customers, you need to know how likely they are to recommend your business. You may be able to gauge this in person, but you can also send out a survey that asks clients to rank how satisfied they are with your services.
The happiest ones are the most likely to tell their friends about you. For those folks, create an incentive program that gives them a discount, freebie or some other kind of reward for recommending you. One good idea: Give your clients one month free of something—be it their insurance coverage with you or a subscription to Blue Apron or other services—for each successful referral.
But make sure to note: Your state might have limits on the type and amount of rewards you can provide, as per the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Do your research to ensure your referral rewards don't violate anti-rebating laws.
Don’t Underestimate Friends and Family
According to Nielsen, a global audience research firm, 88 percent of consumers said they trusted word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know more than any other channel.
Likewise, your friends and family can be a spokesperson for your agency. There is probably no one more willing to sing the praises of your work than a proud momma and other people who want nothing more than for you to succeed.
They’re especially helpful if you’re a new insurance agent without experience or social proof to advertise to your audience. A recommendation or social share from a family member goes a long way in building brand awareness. Let them know that you’re open to new clients and encourage them to interact with your online posts.
Don’t Miss Out on Getting Referral Partners
Whether you’re a solo insurance agent or a small brokerage looking to generate new leads, it’s more than worth it to develop an insurance referral program. You’ll have the best shot at success if it mutually benefits your business, clients, and partners.
Referral partners not only help you get more clients, but they also help you meet more of your clients’ needs. This can make you an even more trusted advisor and keep your clients coming back.
Now that you know all about where to find the best referral partners, all that’s left to do? Get out there and start networking!