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Let Your Clients Help You Find Prospects

Come to your annual review meeting well prepared to get referrals.

By Charles Potts

This is one of those sales ideas that once you try it, it works so well that you might stop doing it. That would be a shame because this is a technique that could, if consistently used, take your career to another level and end your prospecting woes forever.

As you know, the annual review is a great way to “show and tell” your clients how their programs are doing at solving the problems you pointed out previously. At the annual review, you are truly doing your clients a service, following through on what you promised. They are likely to be happy that you have kept your promise to be of service. You would think that this would be the most likely time to obtain referrals to those people about whom your client is most concerned or respects the most

Typically, somewhere near the end of your annual review meeting, you would ask your client: “Do you know someone in a similar situation that I should call on to explain what I do?” (You could insert your own referral-question language here.) The bottom line is that you ask for referrals in a way that is comfortable for you and that you think will elicit a positive response from your client. Typically, your client’s answer would be some variation of this: “I cannot think of anyone right off the top of my head, but if I do, I will be sure to give you a call.”

This is not the response you want. Next time, try something a little more imaginative. Before your annual review meeting, prepare a prompting list of people in the same social circle, country club, avocation, occupation, related business, neighborhood, alumni group or whatever. The list should have at least 25 names on it. It would be pretty cool if you had the people’s addresses and telephone numbers, too.

show your client the list of the names of people you want to call on and ask for his help in steering you to them.

When the natural time comes for you to ask for referrals, show your client the list of the names of people you want to call on and ask for his help in steering you to them. This exercise will be much less stressful for your client, and you will have a ready-made reason to ask him about the people on his list. You will not believe the difference.

Side benefit: With more referred leads come more sales, better persistency, higher first-year commissions and larger persistency bonuses. These are good things.

Charles W. Potts, CLU, RHU, is with MassMutual Financial Group in Oklahoma City, Okla. He can be reached at 405-270-8000 or


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