One of the things attorneys most frequently ask us is: “How do I find more clients fast?” The answer to this question is deceptively simple, yet amazingly complex to resolve. Referrals are near the top of the list when it comes to the best ways of finding new clients, but there are 5 referral realities that you need to grasp in order to build a robust referral base:
Reality #1: People Make Referrals to Build Social Capital. Most people enjoy making referrals to their friends and associates as a way of building social capital. If you believe the way you practice law benefits your clients, then you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about asking clients to refer you to others who may benefit as well.
Reality #2: Mitigating Risk is Important. All referrals involve risk – if you refer a business and it underperforms, you feel badly that you made that referral. Attorneys who count on referrals for business generation need to take the necessary steps to mitigate this risk with communication, education and stellar follow-up.
Reality #3: People Refer Great Experiences. People who have had great experiences with a product or service tend to refer it to their friends and colleagues. This is why cultivating a culture of great client service by micromanaging the client experience is a must for gaining referrals.
Reality #4: Referrals Require Trust. Even if someone raves to a friend about you, that person is likely to search for you on the Internet. If they can’t find good content, reviews or social network participation, they will be less likely to proceed with contacting you.
Reality #5: Referrals Require a System. Attorneys need to create a referral strategy that includes a process for making referrals happen. A key component is staying connected with prospects, clients and referral partners on a regular, consistent basis. Your referral system should include:
- Monthly newsletters – keeping them apprised of what your firm is doing, new employees, new practice areas, and content that is beneficial to them.
- Annual Client Satisfaction Survey – find out what your clients think about the services they have received from your firm and how you can improve.
- Keep In Touch letters – on a regular basis — every 2-3 months — send a letter to referrals, prospects and clients just to touch base. This top of mind awareness is crucial for generating referrals.
- Referral Education System – your referral sources need to know what kind of prospects you are looking for. It does no good for them to refer prospects to you who are not looking for what your firm offers. Keep your referral sources updated on your practice areas and any changes in your firm if you want to receive high-quality referrals.
Building a strong referral base does not happen by accident. If you want to take your legal marketing to the next level, you need a systematic approach to developing more and better relationships with a wide variety of referral sources.