Build a Stronger Business: Lessons from the MDRT Podcast
We love checking in with the MDRT Podcast to see what great tips and strategies we can learn from top producers.

It’s been over six months since we last brought you a roundup from the podcast. As we wrap up the year, let’s take these new tidbits as inspiration for 2022. You can listen to the MDRT Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeart Radio. All the quotes below came from these episodes:

Here are some highlights, anecdotes, and tips we think you’ll find helpful.

Establishing Relationships with Clients

  • Bill Cates, Referral Coach: “Think in terms of social event opportunities. I’ve met many advisors who are doing quite well doing social events virtually…the more social-type interaction you have with clients, the easier the referral process gets. They’ve already seen your value, they got a feel for the work you do. But when they like us and trust us and really like us and become 'business friends,' they not only want to bring our value to other people, but they want to help us and that’s a very powerful combination…I would say that the secret sauce of creating advocates for your business…is that business friendship, when they see your value and like you and want to help you.”

  • Tristan Hartey, MDRT Member: “The key is to not jump the gun and try and prospect when you’re at those events [with clients] because we’re used to just having our business cards and doing email introductions and things like that. They key is to have a bit of patience and then wait until you next see the client to ask them...a lot of people will feel awkward just asking people for referrals. Sometimes it can be that once you get used to doing it, it becomes a lot easier and you’ll get a lot more out of it and it’s just about getting used to doing it.”

I would say that the secret sauce of creating advocates for your business…is that business friendship, when they see your value and like you and want to help you.

Using Questionnaires Before and After Client Meetings

  • Matthew Richard Duffy, LUTCF, FSS: Before client meetings: “...we call it the clipboard, the intake form, the check-in sheet, similar to the one you have at a doctor’s office. Every single doctor’s office you walk into, they hand you a clipboard and say, 'Fill this out and bring it back to us when you’re done.' So we did that, and we implemented that sheet: a 2-page sheet confirming personal information, names, addresses, dates of birth, but also what things are you interested in that we may have not talked about before. What products and services might you be interested in? We’re multi-line, so maybe you’re here to talk about auto insurance, but you’re interested in financial planning and life insurance for your family. When we did that, we uncovered needs with all these people that we had never spoken to them about always have those people who just fill the form out with their name and hand the sheet back, but most people fill that form out in its entirety. And they’re telling us what things they want to talk about. Being in multi-line, it’s not always easy to move from auto and home insurance to financial planning in the discussion. If they’ve checked that financial planning box, it gives me the green light to bring that up.”

  • Carla Brown, FPFS: “That’s something that we started doing as well in the last 12 months, following up our meetings with a questionnaire. So we have different questionnaires depending on the kind of meeting. If it’s a discovery meeting, you get one questionnaire. If it’s a planning meeting, you get another...Ours is constantly evolving, so probably once a month we’ll have a change in the wording slightly or tweaking the questions a little bit just to try and get more value from them. We send ours electronically...We also have a link on there that clicks through to referral sites, so things like Google reviews, that kind of thing…prompting clients to go on there and leave us a positive review as well so it’s helping our presence on the internet.”

  • Matthew Richard Duffy, LUTCF, FSS: After client meetings: “We physically send a survey in the mail with a self-addressed return envelope, handwritten, to make sure we get it back. Because we’ve tried electronic and the response is very poor. But when someone gets an actual handwritten letter in the mail with a self-addressed envelope, they feel obligated to send it back…We get probably 90% of them back and about a third of them do have referrals. We don’t have any special questions in there, and honestly, when I’m talking to people about it, I’m not as concerned with the top half of the survey as I am with the bottom where the referrals are. My feeling is they’re doing business with us and they’re probably happy with us or they wouldn’t be doing business with us. Almost all the surveys give us great reviews and great remarks.”

We uncovered needs with all these people that we had never spoken to them about before.

Process Updates or Improvements

  • Tristan Hartey, MDRT Member: “One of the big things we do is every year, we review our process and we look at what is our ideal client. And the way we do it is we add 10 or 20 percent each year to what our ideal client looks like. So then we go about the process of our top 50, top 100 clients who we’re asking for referrals. Now, they already know what our ideal client is, but we then talk about it and show them what an ideal client might look like. And when we do our presentations, we’ll put those numbers in the presentation. If we’re doing a presentation to clients and maybe there’s guests coming along or something along those lines, we’ll say x client has this amount in assets, this amount in money, and that number just goes up every year. And because it goes up, they get the idea and think, 'That’s what they’re looking for,' because those are the numbers they’re using.”

  • Carla Brown, FPFS: “My best practice that I’ve implemented in the last 12 months was actually bringing in an operations manager. So, prior to that, it was myself running the business, writing the business, pretty much doing everything around the business and trying to keep everybody doing what they needed to do. And it became so reliant on me keeping that energy going. The busier I got, the less time I had for doing things within the practice. So I hired an operations manager to take over the day-to-day running of the business for me. So I stepped back and now I’m just doing the leadership side of things, more of the financial planning, the bread and butter, going out there and earning money. And it’s meant I can leave the actual day-to-day running of the business to her, and it’s been an absolute godsend. It’s given me so much time back. It’s allowed me to not be so distracted all the time. And also from a personal perspective, it’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders and given me more time for family life and fun as well.”

Now I’m just doing the leadership side of things, more of the financial planning, the bread and butter, going out there and earning money.

Social Media Tips

  • Matthew Richard Duffy, LUTCF, FSS: “About 4 years ago, we implemented this thing where when we have a new client, we would ask them if we could make a Facebook post welcoming them to our office as a client. Everyone said yes, nobody said no, and we did that for about year. And I got no action, no activity, no reach, complete waste of time. No comments, no likes, no shares, no nothing...We realized that the only people that were seeing those posts were my current clients and friends. Those new clients’ friends weren’t seeing that because it was on my page, my personal page or my business page. So we made a change and it was a dramatic change for our business, as far as marketing goes. We changed it to where we asked them to go to their social media and make a post about their experience coming to our office. And in return for that, we consider it a referral and send them a Visa gift card to do it…It worked like a charm, it still works like a charm. Now all of their friends are seeing that post and all their connections are seeing that post… The other thing that happened with that is random people in the community are walking up to me and asking me about insurance. They’re people I don’t know, I’ve never met before. That never, ever happened before and that’s the only thing we’ve changed so I know that’s where it’s coming from.”

  • Carla Brown, FPFS: “One of the things we have learned is that posts that feature the team members as individuals get a lot more engagement than posts that are about products or investments or anything like that. People want to know about people. We’ve just had a photoshoot done where we’re all wearing clothes that relate to our hobbies and things like that, so we’ve just tried to make the whole image a lot less corporate and more about us as individuals. And the engagement, so far, has been absolutely fantastic…This social media engagement is raising our profile locally and we’re getting more traction that way which is fantastic.”
Random people in the community are walking up to me and asking me about insurance. They’re people I don’t know, I’ve never met before.

Strategies for Asking for Referrals

  • Carla Brown, FPFS: “We’ve got a documented reward referral strategy. So if you send us one referral, you get X. If you send us two referrals, you get something slightly better and it sort of ramps up. And we found that we get about 55% of our new business from referrals, so it’s made a massive difference to the consistency in our practice…The very first version [of our questionnaire] we sent out, we asked for a referral at the bottom. We put space in there for them to actually put the client names in there. But what we found was that people were ticking to say that they would refer, but they weren’t going to enter any details. Perhaps they felt it was too personal. So in version two, we took that box out. We have the question in there now: 'Are you happy to refer us?' And what we do now is we have someone in the office who will phone that client at a later date once the surveys come back and just say, 'Oh, I’m really happy that you’re comfortable referring us. Do you have anybody in mind you’d like us to pass our details onto right now?' So just following that up with a phone call. We felt it was a slightly softer approach to putting the box on the questionnaire.”

  • Bill Cates, Referral Coach: “If you ever do get invited to a client event, one thing you want to do is check with your client and say, 'You know I appreciate this and I’m looking forward to the event. Some people may ask me how I know you. Is it okay if I tell them I’m your financial advisor or insurance specialist?' Most of them will say, 'Yes, sure, of course.' ...that’s good because now, if someone asks you how you know them, you have permission to mention it. But also what you can now do is ask other people, 'How do you know Mr. and Mrs. Smith?' They’ll tell you, and then turn and ask you, 'How do you know them?' And that gives you permission to mention the relationship. You’re not at the event to prospect, so please don’t think about that. However, you can go back to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and say, 'I had a great conversation with George and Martha Washington. Can we talk about a more formal introduction? How do you feel about me reaching out to them?'”

  • Matthew Richard Duffy, LUTCF, FSS: “The other thing we a post-appointment survey. We picked that up at an MDRT meeting and we built our own and got it approved, so after every meeting we send a survey to our clients. How did we do? What could we do to improve? But at the bottom, it asks for referrals because I’m not great at face-to-face asking for referrals, I never have been. We tell them, you know what, if you send us some referrals, we’ll send you a Visa gift card. That depends on where you are and whether that’s okay or not, but in Illinois it is. So we tell them if you send us some referrals, we’ll send you a $25 Visa gift card and they love that and we get a lot of referrals that way.”
We tell them, you know what, if you send us some referrals, we’ll send you a Visa gift card.

3 Types of Events to Hold for Consumers that Generate Referrals

  • Bill Cates, Referral Coach: “In the systems I’ve developed, I do 3 types of events...for instance, there is the appreciation event – online, in person, whatever…The purpose is just to say thank you and there’s a lot of value in saying thank you to your clients and that dynamic of getting people to come together who like you and trust you and leave liking and trusting you more. Then there’s the special invitation event. Now, the purpose of the special invitation event is for introductions. It’s not just, 'Oh, by the way, feel free to bring someone.' It is purposeful here, and so how you talk about it to your clients, it’s a little different. We found that one of the best ways to meet folks who want to meet someone like us is in a social setting where we’re not taking about business. We’re getting to know each other socially, but they know they’re there to meet us and they’re open to that. And they’re probably open to a follow up after the event, in most cases...And the third type of event, we call it a celebration event – which is kind of like an appreciation event, but you have an individual or a guest of honor or a couple. So it could be retirement parties, it could be a small birthday gathering. I know people who’ve built very successful practices with these little birthday events the week of the birthday. A few colleagues from work come and join them and it just naturally turns into business...When people are invited to meet you and they know they’re coming to meet you in a social setting but for a business umbrella surrounding that, it’s much easier.”

  • Tristan Hartey, MDRT Member: “For those aspiring to MDRT, I think the key is to not jump the gun and have patience. Ultimately, referrals take time. You have to build your network to start with, and you’ve got to build that trust, that like, that respect. I think one of the biggest problems people have is that they try it once. But it’s a trial run – you can’t expect to go to an event to get 50 referrals. In fact, if you get one, it’s a massive success...The amount of people I’ve met who’ve said, 'Oh, we did this event once and we didn’t do it again because it didn’t work.' And we’re going, 'Well, why not run it five times?' I guarantee that by the fifth time, provided there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the event, it will work...Patience is the key, I would say. People expect instant results – particularly the younger generations, but also just the whole world. You want to get a taxi, you go on your phone and click Uber, and three minutes later, it’s at your door. So they think that when it comes to handing over money for life insurance, people do it exactly the same – but they don’t. The people you should probably be chasing still want that level of service. So they’re going to take their time to decide and you’ve got to build that level of trust.”
For those aspiring to MDRT, I think the key is to not jump the gun and have patience. Ultimately, referrals take time.

That’s what we found most helpful in recent episodes of the MDRT Podcast!

Which of these tips or strategies resonate with you? Share your favorite tidbits in the comments!