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Solicitors Love Referrals. This is a fact. However, I know from experience that not many solicitors have a plan to generate more referrals. Why is that? How Do Solicitors Generate More Referrals?
Below is an article from one of my printed issues of my Solicitors Marketing4Solicitors Newsletter providing a full system showing solicitors how to generate more referrals. This newsletter is published 10 times each year. If you want to find out how to receive these newsletters alongside an online marketing learning platform for solicitors, sign up for more information about Marketing4Solicitors at the foot of this article.
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I bet you love a referral don’t you? Somebody who already knows, likes and trusts you refers you to a friend or colleague. You get a new client who is pre-sold on you. Cost is not usually an issue. Everyone is happy.
With that in mind, I have some questions for you:
What do you mean you don’t know? You just nodded your head when you said you love referrals, didn’t you?Therefore, you should know the answers to these questions.
When you do, you get even more referrals which make you even happier. That is why Referrals are the focus of the Extreme Close Up in Marketing4Solicitors this month. They are important to your business. Spend more time ensuring that you have a system in place for them and you will get more and more of them. Maybe putting into place a proper, watertight referral system could be your core marketing task for the next few days?
I said in the introduction to this issue of Marketing4Solicitors that all solicitors I meet love referrals. Love them.
It is not hard to see why. When someone is referred to you they are so much more likely to become a good client because:
Therefore, unless you completely blow it, they are more likely than not going to become a new client of your law firm.
Two things puzzle me when it comes to referrals and solicitors, though:
I have covered with you before that if you receive referrals it is absolutely your duty to measure them so that you can ensure you thank, reward and reciprocate your referrers. If you don’t what is to stop them going elsewhere?
I am not for a minute suggesting you start offering them referral fees, by the way. I hate that stuff as much as you do too. That being said, you must measure the volume of referrals that you receive from all of your referral partners so that you can ensure that you either reciprocate, send them a bottle, take them out to dinner or at the very least send them a thank you note.
If you tot up your referrals you might be pleasantly surprised what they are worth to your business.
You might have three active referral partners each sending, let’s say, just one client each month to your business. Using a very low average billing fee of £1,000 per client, that would be £3,000 per month or £36,000 per month in fees. What would you pay someone to give you £36,000 worth of business?
What would you pay someone to give you £36,000 worth of business?
Most solicitors receive a much larger volume of referral business than this, but I wanted to put a financial figure on this so that you realise how important this topic is.
Here is my three step plan for you to transform that £36,000 into £100,000 or even more!
I will look at each part in turn, because every step of the process has opportunity for you to optimise and improve it and the results that it produces for you.
“I knew it was good, but I had no idea it was that good!”
I have heard this several times when I force a new client to track and measure all of their referrals. I say ‘force’ because that is what it usually takes to get them to do what I know they need to do to improve the success and profitability of their law firm.
Once I have forced them to look at all of the referrals that they have received and calculate the value of those referrals to the business in terms of straight profit costs they then say:
“I knew it was good, but I had no idea it was that good!”
This made me chuckle. After I had finished writing the part of M4S above to take scheduled client calls, on one of those calls a client said exactly these words above as I had ‘forced’ him to see who referred business to him and how much it was worth to his business.
Referrals matter! What gets measured gets better!
Once you see the pounds and pence figure of profit costs that referrals bring into your law firm, you realise how very important it is to consistently track and measure this and then to ensure that your referral partners are happy with the relationship.
Let’s move on to the reward part now.
My clients often find this part the most difficult, yet I think it is really quite straightforward.
As I have said before, I am not looking for you to pay referrers for each peace of work. I think that if you do pay referrals for every piece of work the relationship is doomed for several reasons:
So, if not referral fees, what should you do for your referral partners?
If you want to know what to buy your other half for Christmas, or your children or anyone for that matter, how do you find out?
You ask them!
Same with referrals. If you do your measuring from step one above and discover that one referrer is sending a huge amount of new business your way (which most solicitors do when they do this exercise) the easiest thing to do is to go old school. Take them out to lunch or dinner, spend some time getting to really know them, discovering their own and their families hobbies and interests and their food and beverage preferences, pay for dinner and you will be armed with all of the information to randomly reward them when the time feels right.
I want to stress the RANDOM part there. Keep the gift random so that it doesn’t become tied to referrals or raise an expectation in your referrer’s mind that they receive something every time they refer some new business to you.
You might buy them one bottle of wine, two or six. You might give them tickets to a concert for a musician that you now know they like or buy them a voucher for dinner with their family at a nice restaurant. It might even be as simple as a thank you card. What it can’t be (or continue to be if it has been until this point) is absolutely nothing.
There simply cannot be a long term relationship of any type where one side constantly gives and the other constantly takes. Remember my “Referral Triangle of Mutual Benefit”?
In this relationship between the referred client, the referrer and the solicitor everyone has to get something from the relationship for it to work:
If three-way mutual benefit doesn’t exist guess what happens? The triangle collapses and becomes a flat line! That won’t work.
Reward your referrer from time to time and you will keep them happy and keep them referring.
Now that you know how to look after your existing referrers, shouldn’t you think about obtaining some more?
Good news, there isn’t just one opportunity for referrals here. Nor are there just two, but there are in fact three potential sources of referrals for solicitors:
Let’s look at each of them in turn.
There are two ways here to get more referrals from business partners:
The first one is as simple as asking your referrer if there are opportunities for you to help them more that may also produce more referrals for you. Yes, I am banging on about mutual benefit again here, because this will be far more effective for you than just asking for more referrals.
Here are some ways that you can generate some referrals for your business whilst adding benefit to your referral partner’s business too (win, win):
This is how you can add value to your existing referral partners and generate new referrals for your business whilst providing some value for their business too.
Once you have maximised the referrals from your existing referral partners, why not find some more?
If you are regularly told by your existing referral partners that you add a lot of value to their clients, why wouldn’t someone else with the same type of business as your referral partner want to send their clients to you too?
This is the approach I suggest that you use to find these prospects:
Head to LinkedIn and do a search in the top bar for the type of business that you know has potential clients for you:
Make sure you select the “People” search rather than the “Jobs” one.
You can only connect with people who are second connections with you, so select this from the “Connections” drop down.
Then filter your search to find people close to your business (if geography is important to you) by adding your county or town name as shown below:
You will now be presented with a list of potential referral partners.
Connect with them. Preferably add a personal message, for example:
“Nick, I see you are also in Reading so I thought it would be worth connecting as I am sure we can help each other’s businesses in some way, shape or form. I would be happy to meet for a coffee and a chat.”
It will work without a personal message too; just possibly not quite so well.
Now that you are expanding your network with people who could be potential referral partners, you need them to see that you are an expert in your field. You should really be doing this already, but if not then starting it now would be a good idea.
Post articles about your topic of expertise (linking to the main article but including the headline, topic summary and if possible at all ask a question about the subject matter to get responses on LinkedIn).
Check to see who engages with your post (likes it or comments on it) and of course if and when potential referral partners do so, message them inside LinkedIn to push for that coffee that I mention above. Remember to talk about the benefits to their business not your own.
Keep posting to LinkedIn (weekly if you can, monthly as a minimum – make a diary note) and also make a repeating diary note to do the ‘search and connect’ process every month to continually grow your network with potential referral partners.
Your existing clients already know like and trust you.
Q. What is the easiest way to obtain recommendations and referrals from your existing clients?
A. Send them an email EVERY.SINGLE.MONTH.
I love it when one feature article (referrals) allows me to smash you over the head with another of my Marketing Arteries (email marketing), also known as the methods of marketing that every smart solicitor (in other words every Marketing4Solicitors member) should be doing which by way of a reminder are:
By sending an email every month to your clients, you are forced to create new content for your website (Artery 1), you send that email to your clients (Artery 2) and also to all of your referrers (Artery 4).
That can’t be a bad thing can it?
In addition to this you are also reminding your clients that you exist and of the range of services that you provide, so that when a friend or family member asks them if they know a solicitor, instead of saying “I can’t remember who I used last time because it was three or four years ago and I haven’t heard from them since…” they now say: “Oh, hang on a minute, I had an email from my solicitor last week.”
Let me forward that on to you so you can give them a call.”
Note the use now of My Solicitor because you have remained in their mind since that lovely employment law matter you handled for them four years ago.
Two additional ways of obtaining more referrals from your existing clients are:
We are incredibly lucky to work with some wonderful clients. If you know anyone else that could benefit from our legal services, please do introduce us. We really appreciate recommendations and referrals from our clients.
Subject: Can we help anyone that you know?
Dear Mrs Grouse,
Having used our legal services in the past, we hope that you experienced how hard we work to deliver a great service for our clients.
We don’t know if you know this, but a lot of our new clients are recommended to us by existing clients. This has the benefit for us that we know we will get on with them because they are recommended by someone that we already know, like and trust.
I am emailing today to explain that we are currently running a campaign to raise money for the local charity XXX. For every new client that comes to us in January recommended by one of our existing clients, we are donating £50.
If you know anyone that could use our legal services right now (the full range of our services is at the foot of this email) all that you need to do is to forward this email to them and ask them to mention the XXX charity and your name when they call us so that we can make the donation in your name by way of a thank you for recommending us.
Even if they do not refer you as a result of the email (I suggest sending one at the beginning of the month and one nearer to the end to give yourself two bites of the cherry), two things will happen:
Could you run this promotion in the next month or two to drive more referrals from existing clients?
Put it in the diary. Be brave. Get some new work the easy way and support a charity at the same time.
Other solicitors are one of the biggest referral methods for many of my clients. If you work in a niche, there will be three or four firms that also operate in niche areas who would be very happy to refer work to you on the basis that you reciprocate to them.
The additional benefit of this three, four or eight way symbiotic relationship is that you can now talk about other areas of law in your email newsletters aside from just your own. You can ask your fellow solicitors for content for your email marketing newsletter and provide content for theirs too so that you cross-promote each other’s services.
Remember when you do this though to keep control of the referral so that you can track how many clients you have sent to each solicitor to ensure that they reciprocate. The easy way to do this when you include their article in your email newsletter is to not name the solicitor, but to explain that you have a very close relationship with a solicitor in this field of law and if your clients would like an introduction all they need to do is to call you or reply to the email. You can then introduce them to the solicitor, thereby ensuring that you receive the credit for the referral.
How do you find more solicitors like this to generate referrals from?
You use my LinkedIn three step referral process above!
I started by saying that solicitors LOVE referrals.
I have given you several opportunities to generate MORE referrals. I ask of you two things:
As I mentioned, this is one article from my printed Marketing4Solicitors newsletter. To receive these articles as they are written, plus access to a whole host of online marketing resources showing solicitors exactly what they need to do to grow their law firm, please click the button below: