Mastering the secret to referrals can mean more business for you than any other lead source.
I also believe many preneed counselors and funeral directors are far too reluctant to ask for a referral.
None of us woke up this morning and instantly was an experienced preneed counselor or funeral director. We worked through a training process we all worked through.
To become comfortable with the idea of asking for referrals, you must first create a “Referral Mindset.” That is, expect a referral. Don’t be ashamed to ask. Research shows that 52% of your families would be happy to provide you with named of people they know who might be interested in funeral planning, but only 5% (yes, that’s F-I-V-E percent) have ever been asked.
Throughout your typical preneed presentation, you probably focus a lot on how prearrangements will bring peace of mind to the customer and what it will mean to their family. At the close, even if the family in front of you isn’t ready to make a decision, they may know others in need of preneed services.
Asking for a referral often opens the door to reiterate and cover a different angle to the value of preplanning. Realize responses which appear like rejections aren’t necessarily so. The family may not know or understand enough about how preneed can benefit them personally. Be patient and listen to their needs.
[pullquote]Research shows that 52% of families would gladly provide preplanning referrals, but only 5% have ever been asked.[/pullquote]Plant the idea of referrals early. One way is to say something like, “Last week I met with a family recommended to me. They had no idea how prearrangements worked; learning how they could help emotionally and financially turned out to be a huge relief.” Try using words like “recommend”, “visit” or “help”. Another transition is, “Do you think your sister would appreciate it if I visit with her too and show how to get peace of mind for one’s final needs?” Let the family know that you would like simply to “explain the benefits,” or “share the benefits” with their referral. Reassure that you will treat them with the same kindness, and be just as professional as you have been with them.
A referred family is a much more receptive to hear your message. If they are there because a friend or relative wanted to help them, they are in more of a comfort zone than a buy-sell arrangement and therefore tend to be more trusting. Referrals are relationship oriented and naturally fit our business model of relationships cultivated through the services we offer. You must not think that a referral is pre-sold; you have to show the referred family their own personal need for pre-arranging.
A referred family is in a comfort zone that you as a funeral professional need to be more familiar and try to move outside your current paradigm. I understand this is a scary proposal…but it can be done! My grandfather once told me: “If you don’t seize an opportunity, you can be sure of what will happen: NOTHING!”
Lastly, if all else fails, use the Security National Life Referral Form supplied in the Preneed Contract Book to help you get comfortable with asking. It just might be the help that can put you in front of more people.
“Learn to listen: Opportunity could be knocking at your door very softly.” – Frank Tyger