How to Build a Long-Term Referral Strategy with Professional Partnerships
Referrals are the backbone for many life and health insurance agencies—especially growth-minded ones.
Often, referrals come from your agency’s existing clients, i.e., their family, friends, or industry acquaintances. However, another form of referral that is often overlooked: referrals from partnerships.
In this blog, we’ll cover how to create and use your partnerships to gain more referral business. The tips we share will refer to mutually beneficial partnerships that do not involve monetary incentives. Instead, they are centered around both companies benefiting from referrals the other sends.
Where Insurance Agencies Can Find Professional Partnerships
Two of the top professional partnerships life and health insurance agencies create are with:
- Financial Planners
- Property & Casualty Agencies
But the opportunities do not stop there.
Agencies who build their brands upon education and customer service set themselves apart by being the go-to place for their clients to get information. I’ve asked my health insurance agent for professional referrals on multiple occasions because I trust their opinion. They’ve given me good advice, which makes me want to keep them as my agent and continue to rely on their knowledge and insight.
Here are some examples:
- Is your client buying a new car? Introduce them to your automotive dealer and your P&C agent.
- Are they new to the area? Share your tips for primary physicians, physical therapists, pharmacies, etc., that their plan would cover.
- Is your client considering moving? Introduce them to your realtor.
- Do they have an aging loved one (or are they aging)? Help them find the right place (retirement home, long-term care home, etc.)
The list goes on.
As you can see, when your agency builds a brand of education and customer service, your clients will respond. They already look to you for advice about their healthcare and life insurance needs. What’s stopping them from asking your advice in other areas?
How Insurance Agencies Can Build Professional Partnerships
When looking to start creating professional partnerships for your life and health insurance agency, here are 3 steps to consider:
- Find the right partner
- Define your agency’s expectations
- Start referring!
Step 1: Find the right partner
Often, deciding who to partner with is determined by your experience in the field. Start small by partnering with one or two different professionals/companies. If you’re unsure where to start, ask your team and clients for their input.
Questions to ask:
- Which services are they currently looking for
- Who do they trust for a specific service
- Who would they suggest you partner with
- Which services would they find helpful
And the biggest part, ask why. Why do they trust those professionals? Why do they suggest those services? The more you know, the more you can provide to your clients when they ask the same questions.
Use this information to build out your potential partnership list. Determine where you want to start and with how many. Start small to pilot the program and build from there.
Once you have your list together, set time aside to meet with each company/individual to discuss. Then, have options available. Each partnership may look different, and you’ll want options for them to consider.
Step 2: Define your agency’s expectations
Laying out expectations is critical to a successful partnership, but make sure your expectations are realistic.
Business.org outlines these 5 steps for successfully setting realistic expectations:
- Know your limits
- Don’t over-promise
- Explain potential obstacles
- Choose flexible deadlines
- Maintain open communication
You need to know what you can contribute. If you’re only being asked for recommendations a couple of times a month, then don’t commit to sending 10+ referrals a month. Start small so you have space to grow.
Use SMART goals to set your expectations so you can easily track how the partnership is doing, SMART stands for:
After you’ve come to an agreement, work together to determine how you will proceed if the other doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain. Remember, this partnership should be mutually beneficial, so you’ll want to have steps in place to ensure it remains so.
Step 3: Start referring!
Communication is essential to any successful partnership.
Set up recurring meetings (monthly, quarterly, or biannually) to discuss your partnership. Some topics to cover:
- Standout new clients
- Metrics & quality of the leads
- Current obstacles
- Future partnership plans (growth, maintenance, etc.)
Determine if you’re meeting the expectations and upholding your end of the deal. Discuss what’s working and not, where the partnership is going, and what each partner needs. Metrics and lead quality are essential in this discussion to ensure this partnership is viable. Is each party getting what they need from the partnership?
Then, be open to change.
We all grow and evolve, and your partnerships should, too. As you learn, evolve your partnerships. Use communication to share this information honestly and transparently so both parties can understand and grow.
Having these consistent conversations about the state of your partnerships allows them to thrive.
Keep track of your partnerships and conversations by creating a new individual type in your agency management system, like AgencyBloc. Mark them as a partner to track what you discussed and when.
In AgencyBloc, when you log this as an Activity, your notes are date- and time-stamped, so you can always keep track of what happened and when. Then, you can set up an Automated Workflow to send you a task and an email to alert you when it’s time to meet again.
Professional partnerships give your life and health insurance agency a unique opportunity to grow your book of business from your existing community, deepen your relationships, and improve client retention. Once they’re in place, they can start working for you, and your agency can reap all the benefits.
Continue Growing Your Book of Business
Grow your business from within by identifying the low-hanging fruit from your existing client base. With an agency management system like AgencyBloc, you can run a quick search for cross-sell opportunities that you can work through instantly for an increase in sales and client retention.
Read the Blog
This blog was originally published on December 26, 2019, and was updated on June 13, 2023.
by Allison Babberl on Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Lead & Sales Management