… duh …. Stupid …. JUST ASK FOR THEM!
It sounds ridiculously stupid, right! But ho hum, so few people in professional practice actually ask. Instead they wait for something to fall out of the sky.
Ask them why they don’t ask and their stock answer is: “If they have a new matter, I would expect them to tell me about it”.
There are some success stories where by dint of their effort, expertise and customer care, clients just can’t help telling their nearest and dearest about this brilliant professional. But the reality is that more fee earning work is being done by fewer people, which means that the opportunity to deliver a super-WOW service has disappeared down the toilet. Oh sure you comply with your professional obligations but are you turning things around in a super quick time or exceeding the KPIs that you have set for yourself e.g. answering an email in 10 minutes or a letter in no more than 2 hours?
If you are not delivering the highest possible service then your potential to generate referrals by word of mouth will be (seriously) affected. “Adequate”, “competent but not super attentive” are just some of the comments that I encounter. This leads to a loss of confidence and substantially increases the possibility of referral work going elsewhere.
Let’s assume that you have got a good balance where you are delivering regularly on your promises, returning calls and pushing as hard as you can for the deal to be done, then asking for referrals should be a natural and synergistic part of the client arrangement.
However, if you are struggling still then here are some further tips:
1. Don’t work on the premise that if you screw up this relationship there are plenty more clients to go after. That sort of approach and reputation will eventually lead to you being hung out to dry;
2. Do your very, very best to deliver the highest possible service. Don’t compromise;
3. Prior to the end of the transaction ask your client if they can recommend someone. Behind each client stands approximately 250 potential clients, so chances are that at least one of those people or someone they know will have a need of legal services. Think about it;
4. Don’t ask the bland question: “Can you think of anyone you can recommend”? Give them a much smaller aperture to look through i.e. knowing that they are members of a Club and they do something regularly with a small group, ask them if they know of anyone in that group who might be interested;
5. Get the names and as much of the contact information as you need but don’t be put off if nothing flows from the initial line of enquiry; just move on to another group or interest;
6. Don’t just think of your practice area but cross-selling as many of the firm’s existing services;
7. If they can pre-qualify the call then so much the better;
8. If you are fortunate to be given a name and you tell your client that you are going to call then make sure that you do. If you drop this one then you will kill the nascent referral arrangement.
Of course, we are dealing here with live client relationship but don’t be too embarrassed to pick up a phone to an old client and go through a similar exercise.
I would be disappointed if, following three weeks of constant application of this process, you do not start to see referrals coming through. Of course, it requires confidence and self-belief in your ability and service delivery and if, hand on heart, you can’t say that you have done the very best for the client then you need to consider carefully how you can engineer that because absent the ability to go WOW this exercise will be focused on a very small number; namely your mates and long-standing clients. But both of those will offer limited opportunities.
For more on developing profitable business, innovating in professional practice and implementing social media, subscribe to the RSS Feed of my Blog. Follow me on Twitter at @0neLife, or @Ju_Summerhayes connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your practice, check out my coaching and consulting firm via LinkedIn, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 075888 15384. I offer a free consultation and will quickly help you indentify the top 3 things that can make the biggest impact to your practice. TUG73NN7779D