Convert your curious prospects into serious leads by establishing positive social proof
In order for an insurance agent to win new business, two things need to happen. First, a fitting prospect must discover the agency or be introduced to it. After that, the prospect needs to trust the agent enough to do business with him or her. This considered, it’s easy to see why insurance agents have traditionally loved referrals so much—it’s like killing two birds with one stone. A loyal client makes the introduction and pre-sells the prospect all at once.
Today’s referrals, however, can take many shapes and forms: online reviews, social shares, personal recommendations, and testimonials. Add to that the instant access to information, and prospects can discover and evaluate a handful of insurance agencies in minutes. That’s why agents should focus on obtaining a diverse range of referrals to not only pique the interest of prospects online, but also to convince them that their agency is worthy of doing business with.
Unlike personal recommendations, testimonials are written for an unlimited number of people over an unlimited amount of time.
Of the different forms of referrals, the one that is consistently underestimated by insurance agents is testimonials. The myth is that, although they’re nice to have, testimonials do little in the way of growing an agency’s book of business. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Written testimonials help agents convert curious prospects into serious leads by establishing positive social proof. They also promote trust and confidence in the agency, increase retention, improve agency morale, and establish an identity that prospects associate with.
I get it. Testimonials don’t get much love because they’re hosted on the agency website, unlike online reviews found on Google or Facebook. But, when you think about it, this is actually their inherent advantage. In terms of the flow of communication with the prospect, online reviews serve the purpose of grabbing the attention of prospects searching online. But once they’re milling around on the agency website it’s the testimonials’ job to charm the prospect into giving the agency a call.
Research shows that regardless of how a prospect is introduced to an agency, the majority will visit its website to judge the agency’s credibility. This may not be the case for all businesses, but it’s certainly true with insurance.
During this evaluation phase, a well-constructed website is essential to convey professionalism and organization. It’s also important to give the prospect a reason to trust you enough to pick up the phone and give you a call.
Having a link to several hundred client testimonials directly on the homepage will certainly do that. Yes, several hundred. This is a very achievable number for most insurance agencies and is perhaps the most effective way of quickly conveying social proof online.
When social proof is considered alone, each testimonial will contribute significantly to adding at least one new client (and with it an average of $480 in annual commissions) over its lifetime. Unlike personal recommendations, testimonials are written for an unlimited number of people over an unlimited amount of time. As more people search for products and services, testimonials will continue to increase in importance.
An often-overlooked benefit of testimonials is the impact they have on the client writing them. After clients make the commitment to promote a business to others, it becomes part of their self-image. When asked to further show their commitment—by sticking around —they are far more likely to elect to stay, rather than conflict with their own testimonial.
Politicians running for office use similar tactics. By asking early supporters to donate to their campaign or display yard signs, they’re encouraging voters to commit their self-image to the candidate so that they’re less likely to change their minds in the future. This psychological pull is usually so powerful that, as soon as someone publicly backs a politician, any future conflicting information will take a back seat to their ego.
Client testimonials operate in a similar way by encouraging clients to be loyal to their agency, even when better rates can be found elsewhere.
Insurance agency staff love reading testimonials. They have a positive impact on company-wide morale, as they are a direct reflection on the performance and hard work of everyone in the office. Most testimonials are written about a specific employee and therefore serve as a badge of pride.
At Rocket Referrals, we often hear agents tell us that ever since they began collecting testimonials they’ve felt more energy and positive vibes circulating inside the agency. A client of ours told us recently about a bulletin board in her own office where she routinely posts client testimonials for everyone to see. Not only does it validate her staff’s hard work, it also brings it to center stage for others to see. She’s able to recognize and reward her best-performing employees, while also placing more confidence in her rock stars and increasing their responsibilities and face time with clients.
How to get them
The good news for most agencies is that most of their clients are willing to provide them with testimonials. At Rocket Referrals we estimate that, on average, 78% of an agency’s book is made up of promoters who are willing to recommend them to friends and family. The trick is inspiring them to actually follow through and write the testimonial.
We found that the best way to inspire clients to write testimonials is for an agency to first uncover their promoters using the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a one-question survey that measures client loyalty (a more in-depth explanation of how the NPS is applied to the insurance industry can be found on our blog). When implemented correctly, the NPS yields a response rate of up to 45%.
Agents can piggyback off this high response rate by asking loyal clients to elaborate on their response. If the client is willing to share his or her response with others, it will effectively serve as a testimonial for the world to see.
Many testimonials will come through with typos, have all caps, or otherwise be imperfect. Leave them—they will come off as authentic, unlike the three highly polished testimonials commonly found on other agents’ websites.
We routinely see insurance agents collect testimonials from 15% of their entire client base. This translates to about 300 testimonials for agencies with around 2,000 active clients. The most customer-focused agencies see numbers higher than that.
All considered, testimonials may not have the luster of online reviews or have the immediate impact of personal recommendations. They’re sometimes quickly scribbled and often littered with grammatical errors. Okay, so testimonials aren’t perfect. You could even consider them the ugly duckling of referrals. But it’s these little attributes that make them all the more endearing, authentic, and genuine to eyes searching online.
When found in numbers, they have a significant impact by conveying trust and confidence in an insurance agency. They’re also quite good at keeping clients around during rough patches and bringing smiles to the office.
So go out and get those testimonials from 15% of your client base. Your clients are waiting.
Carl Maerz is the co-founder of Rocket Referrals, an automated communication strategy that helps agencies improve referrals, retention, reviews and relationships. He aims to help local agencies leverage their advantages over direct carriers by replacing common industrial myths with relevant and practical advice. Contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org.