33 Ways to Encourage Branch Referrals

One of my very first mortgage sales jobs back in 1988 had me planted comfortably within a busy estate agency office in a major town. During my first month, I sat at my desk grinning like a Cheshire cat expecting to be given lots of customers to sell to.

The result?  Very little. I made the mistake of assuming that the agency team would supply me with a copious supply of warm leads. How wrong was I?

Over the next few months, I spent enormous amounts of time cultivating the team, encouraging leads and nurturing them to provide me with the business I needed.

Here are 33 ways of doing so collated from years of experience and working with hundreds if not thousands of branch based financial services sales people.

  1. Coach them how to make referrals, don’t assume they know how to do it. Less telling them how with a flipchart, more demonstrating how to do it. Learn to become masterly at it yourself first, then use a coaching model such as MEDIC to show them how to do it. Motivate, explain, demonstrate, imitate and coach.
  2. Give your branch team dollops of praise all the time. Doughnuts help as well.
  3. When you walk past the team, stop and ask questions on how they’re doing with referrals. Get them talking about their successes during the day, not just in the morning meetings.
  4. Make your customer calls in the actual branch area with your team around you. That way they can hear, first hand, what you do and the value you give to your customers. Don’t coop yourself up in a room.
  5. Use shadowing as a mentoring tool. Let your team members shadow you for a few hours, sit in on some customer meetings and listen to you calling people.
  6. Remember to show their line manager how to make referrals as well, coach them equally and allow them to shadow you too.
  7. When you have some spare time, maybe a cancelled meeting, don’t drift back to your office to do paperwork, instead get out into the banking hall, talk to customers, chat to the team members. You have to be heard and seen to be remembered.
  8. Only use your office for customer meetings. Secure a desk in the team area to do your admin and paperwork. It may not be peaceful but your team will see you and be aware of what you do and the value you provide to their customers. Remember out of sight, out of mind.
  9. Attend the team’s morning meetings, chair them when you can. Share successes of course, but use the time to train them on the latest ideas and techniques to make referrals. The latest “deal” you have and constantly let them know the value you provide customers.
  10. Offer to handle the team’s own financial review or mortgage. Let them enjoy personally the service you provide.
  11. Run activities in the team training time. Run an energiser, some puppeteer role play, make the learning very involved rather than just talking at them, everyone else does that.
  12. Help them to see how they might repeat yesterday, what would they do differently, how would they approach Mr and Mrs Jones again.
  13. Do a Swap Shop event where everyone swaps ideas and best practice to improve their referral methods.
  14. Provide constant feedback to the team members on the referrals they’ve given to you. Feedback loudly so others hear and ensure praise is very public.
  15. Tell stories, lots of them to the team. Stories of your customers, the value you’ve provided. Tell your client attraction stories to the team. Relate the first death claim you had and the impact. Explain what your customer did with the endowment that paid out handsomely, the pension that gave them the extra income and how they spent it. People remember stories more than anything else.
  16. If you send your team emails to thank them or to give feedback, make sure the “Big Cheeses” are cc’d in.
  17. Have a certain amount of “drop in” time available where your team can make a real time referral and take them straight into your meeting room to speak with you. Maybe lunch times would work from say, 12 noon to 1pm.
  18. Give your team the words to use when making referrals. Encourage them to speak with you whilst their customer is in front of them. Help them make their excuses to consult you on how you might be able to help and then give them the words they can use.
  19. Recognise them publically. Have a leader board in the staff rest area showing referral numbers or values for each team member.
  20. Reciprocate in the form of business for them. Refer the customer back to open an investment account, or refer them to the mortgage adviser, help your customer to appreciate the other services we offer and make it your business to refer your customers back to the branch team.
  21. Run phone out events for the team. Motivate them and demonstrate how to make calls and then coach them doing the calls.
  22. Give them scripts to use on phone out events, triggers to use, hooks that’ll encourage the customers. Give them as much bait they need to reel the customers in, be careful not to fish for them. Spend your time coaching them rather than making the calls yourself, which might be easier but not sustainable.
  23. “Big ‘em up” make them feel good about what they are doing for you.
  24. Vary the motivations. Doughnuts can go stale. Try scratch cards, a lucky dip type box full of goodies wrapped up the night before. Chocolates in helium filled balloons. Gift vouchers and for your Generation Y’s…time off. That’s what they love.
  25. Do 1 to 1’s with each team member, coaching them, encouraging them to give you referrals not just team meeting events
  26. Run small surgeries with 2 or 3 maximum of your sales team. Use the time to do some training and coaching of the latest techniques and tips.
  27. Continually tell them about your latest value.
  28. Start a customer testimonials board, so your customers tell you (and the team) exactly what value you provided. Make the board very public so everyone can stop and look at the cards, emails and notes you receive.
  29. Offer to make the coffee for the team or fetch from Starbucks and whilst you dish them out, give them a few more ideas on how to gain more referrals.
  30. Decide what your team member’s fish is. A fish is the metaphor for their motivation – WIIFMs – and then provide this fish to each member of your team to encourage referrals.
  31. At every opportunity, speak with customers yourself, talk to them about your role and the importance of the value you provide. Mention that you can only be used by referral only, in other words via the branch staff. Put on your business card your name, by referral only. Have the “by referral only” sticker put on your office door and only accept new customers “by referral only”
  32. Never stop spending your energy investing in your team, if you do, the referrals will dry up. It’s your major marketing and you ought to spend at least 20% of your time with the team, although this may not seem possible at the time, but it’s a sure fire way of ensuring you have a constant stream of new customers to deal with.
  33. And finally stop generating your own leads. Yes, seek referral of course, but spend your energies developing your team’s ability to refer as that’s the only way you do business.

Can you add any more, I’d be interested to hear about your favourite way of helping your branch team provide you with more leads. Please make a comment in the box below the article.