It’s a great feeling when a potential new customer calls you to ask about buying insurance instead of the other way around. Referrals can save you time and energy and have a higher likelihood of converting than cold calls. 

Because a referral is an especially valuable lead, it’s worth thinking about how your approach with them can (and should) be customized.

Relax Your Tone

Our behavior changes when we meet people for the first time under differing circumstances. How you behave when a police officer pulls you over for a traffic infraction is probably much more formal than how you might act when meeting another parent on the sidelines of your kids’ soccer game.

In sales, a cold call requires a certain initial distance as you suss out what type of person you’re talking to and what sales techniques might work with them. You’re friendly, of course, but the default tone is typically more formal until you know if being more casual will be acceptable.

With a referral, you can start with a softer, more relaxed tone. You’ll still want to keep it professional, but more like you’re meeting a friend of a friend rather than a complete stranger.

Get to the Point

In the same vein, you can probably dig into the policy details more quickly. From a consumer’s point of view, not having to spend time finding someone competent and efficient is one of the benefits of getting a recommendation from a friend or colleague. You can still offer your credentials, but don’t spend a lot of time selling yourself if you don’t have to. 

Instead, dive right into finding out what the prospect wants and how you can sell them the insurance they need. Start with a broad question like, “So how can I help you?” Then listen intently and take notes on all of their concerns before narrowing in on each topic the prospect wants to discuss. Demonstrate that you are the competent and efficient insurance agent that this referral hoped to find, and you may have a customer for life.

Ask About Past Experiences

Again, thinking from the consumer’s point of view, most of us don’t ask for recommendations from others unless our needs are not currently being met in some way.

As part of your first call with a new referral, be sure to ask another open-ended question like, “Please tell me why you’re looking for new/better/different insurance.” Resist the urge to add a leading question after that (e.g., “Do you not like the insurance company? Do you not have good coverage? Did your agent do something that upset you?”). Just listen and let them tell their story. You can glean valuable information that will help you avoid making a mistake in the future.

Maintain Confidentiality

When you get a referral, it’s natural to talk about the person you have in common—the referrer. Just remember not to spill too many beans. The professional standard in the insurance business is to never reveal information about insurance products or coverages you’ve sold to specific individuals without their consent. That line can get blurred a bit with referrals.

If your referral says something like, “Jim told me you found him really good insurance for his house,” it’s probably fine to affirm this, but you would not want to talk about any other details without talking to Jim first. A good general rule of thumb is to confirm information only in the broadest sense. If the referral gets very specific and says, “Jim told me you were able to get him $1 million in coverage for $20 a month” (not likely, but let’s assume it’s true), that’s a good clue that price is a big selling point for this referral. Move the conversation in that direction rather than going into the details of Jim’s coverage.

Remember, too, that every referral has the chance to generate even more referrals. When you exercise discretion while talking with a new prospect, you make it clear that you will also safeguard their privacy during future conversations with others.


While referrals are wonderful, few insurance agents have enough to sustain their business. Find out more about how to augment your referrals with fresh, high-intent leads from Hometown Quotes at 800.820.2981.


Bailey Hubner

Bailey Hubner is the Email Marketing Specialist at Hometown Quotes and Staff Writer for Hometown University.

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