Every agent likes getting referrals. They’re easier to sell—and certainly less expensive—than leads you buy online, and talking to someone who actually wants to talk to you is far more enjoyable than cold calling.

That said, it’s even better to talk with prospects who aren’t just interested in talking with you but who are actually ready to sign up for coverage. Sure, you’ll still need to review their options and make sure they understand the benefits and limitations of the plan, but the sales call is much different when the client is ready to buy.

So how do you find these sorts of prospects, ones who are not just willing but actually eager to visit with you? The answer is, you don’t. Instead, you let your current clients find them and have the initial discussion with them. In order to do that, you have to make sure your clients are informed enough to explain the product offering accurately and in a way that makes sense. Here are three tips to help make that happen:

1. Ask for referrals when you make a sale

This makes sense, right? When you sell a policy and the client feels that it fits his or her needs and budget, then you should ask who else they know who’s just like them, or at least in a similar situation. Then tell your client that you don’t like to bother people and would only want to talk with their friend or relative if they truly believe that it makes sense for them.

There is an added bonus to having your clients explain what they just bought and why they bought it: it helps cement the sale you just made. When people explain and defend a purchase to someone else, they tend to become more satisfied with the product. Also, the best way to learn is to teach, so explaining the policy to others actually helps the client better understand the benefits.

2. Ask for referrals when you don’t make a sale

This one isn’t quite as obvious, but it might make sense to ask for referrals when you don’t make a sale. If the client wanted but did not qualify for the product you’re selling, he or she might be motivated to help one or more friends get the opportunity to have the solution for themselves.

In fact, someone who has a medical condition that prevents them from getting a life insurance policy, for instance, might want to advise her loved ones to purchase life insurance while they are still insurable. And if the client doesn’t realize this on her own, you should certainly point it out to her.

3. Arm your clients with the tools they need to pre-qualify referrals

Of course, the client isn’t the salesperson, so you wouldn’t want to give them a stack of insurance applications to distribute to their friends and family. You could, however, give them brochures, rate tables, and provider directories. With modified adjusted community rating, it’s easy to find out from a simple one-page rate table how much each available health plan would cost.

Closing Thoughts

Some agents might be uncomfortable with the idea of letting the client do the selling. After all, you’re the one with years of experience, not them. Plus, you have to be licensed to sell insurance, so non-agents need to be careful what they say about the plans.

For that reason, it might be better to think of this as asking your clients to “pre-qualify” and “warm up” friends or family members so that they’re ready to talk with you and have a general idea of what’s available and at what cost. Do this and you’re almost guaranteed to increase your closing ratio.