What’s better than a referral?

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According to a study reported in Selling Power Magazine, 80% of all introductions turn into sales, whereas just 55% of referrals do.

Here’s what they found:

  • 1% of all cold calls turn into sales.
  • 5% of all leads turn into sales
  • 55% of all referrals turn into sales
  • 80% of all introductions turn into sales.

Knowing this, and knowing that asking for introductions is probably easier than asking for referrals, you should be asking yourself, “Who do I know I could ask for an introduction?”

Maybe everyone. Because everyone knows someone you’d like to be introduced to.

When you’re speaking to a client who mentions taxes, for example, you could ask them who they use to prepare theirs. When they tell you about their accountant, you could ask them to introduce you.

And when you’re speaking to an accountant who does taxes, you could ask them if they have any clients or contacts who are a match for (your ideal client). If they do, ask them to introduce you.

Any time you speak with someone who knows a professional, a business owner, or anyone else who is influential in your niche or local market, find out how they know them and ask for an introduction. This is a simple way to build your network.

And yes, you can also ask for introductions instead of referrals when someone mentions they know someone who needs your services, or is otherwise a likely candidate therefor.

Now, why do you suppose it’s easier to ask for an introduction than a referral?

Is it because a referral implies that you get something out of it, while an introduction seems more benign? Is it because an introduction seems less intimidating and easier to make than a referral?

Why the difference?

I don’t know. All I know is that according to a survey. . .

Of course, if you’d rather cold call and pay for leads, who am I to insist otherwise.

Lawyer-to-Lawyer (and other professionals) Referrals

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Being proactive about referrals

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Referrals happen, right? You don’t have to say anything or do anything other than provide great service. Happy clients tell others about you, give them your business card or your website, and magic happens.

Your business contacts do the same thing. They might say that you did a good job for some of their clients or customers, or they know you by your stellar reputation, or they know you from church or your kid’s soccer team, and you’re a nice fella or gal.

More magic.

If you get any referrals right now, you know this is true. Referrals happen this way all day, every day.

Without you doing anything extra to make that happen.

But while you don’t have to say anything or do anything, there are things you could say or do that could significantly increase the number of referrals you get.

You might double or triple them. You might increase them tenfold.

How much would it be worth to you over the course of a year to get even one additional referral each month?

Okay, enough with the sexy numbers. You want to know what you could say or do to stimulate more referrals, and you don’t want to work hard to do it.

I’ll give you 3 things you can do, starting today.

First, you can talk about referrals. No, I didn’t say ask for them. Talk about them. In your blog posts and articles, in your presentations, and in your conversations.

When you tell a story about a client with a problem, simply mention that they were referred to you by another client who had a similar problem, or by another lawyer or influential person in your community.

Every time you do that, you tell people that you (routinely) get referrals, suggesting that they might do the same.

Thing is, some people can send you referrals but don’t, primarily (according to surveys) because they “didn’t think of it”. This is a simple way to help them think of it.

The second thing you can do is to equip your clients and contacts to refer you.

Give them something they can hand out besides your business card, so that when they talk to someone who might need your help, they can give them something that tells them what you do and how you can help them.

They don’t have to explain. The handout does that for them and tells the prospective client exactly what you want them to know and what to do next.

One more.

Make a habit of asking people for referrals to other professionals.

Tell them you like to network with other attorneys, real estate or financial professionals (or whoever might make a good referral source for you), and ask if they know anyone. If they do, ask for a name, tell them you’ll call them to introduce yourself, and ask, “is it okay if I mention your name?”

You get to talk to potential referral sources who will know that you represent one of their clients or business contacts. You still have work to do, but your mutual client or contact gives you a huge head start.

And yes, it is as simple as that.

Learn more about what to do with this (for clients) and this (for professional contacts).

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Two birds. One stone.

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You: “I want to help my best clients and referral sources but I’m not always able to provide referrals.”

Also you: “I need more ideas for content for my blog and newsletter and social media.”

Me: Pay attention to what your best clients and referral sources are doing and talk about that in your blog, newsletter, and on social.

When they have news or post new content, when they announce an upcoming event or get an award, when they run a promotion or launch a new product or service, share it.

Re-post their news release or article. Share their links. Ask them questions and quote them.

They get free publicity, traffic, leads, and new business.

You get free content for your blog, newsletter, and social media.

Also you: your best clients and referral sources see you promoting them and helping them and most of them will want to do the same for you.

Actually, that’s three birds with one stone. But who’s counting?

How to take a quantum leap in your practice

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Another day, another newsletter alternative

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Yesterday, I suggested sending an occasional “client alert” as a less-demanding alternative to the usual newsletter.

It takes less time and can bring you a lot of repeat business and referrals.

Today, another idea:

News and information for professionals and other referral sources.

You send occasional alerts or bulletins to other lawyers, business owners, and anyone else on your contact list who might like to know what’s going on in the legal world you inhabit.

You can do this for:

  • Other lawyers in your practice area
  • Lawyers in other practice areas
  • Business owners, executives, community leaders
  • Anyone you know who might send you referrals, and/or introduce you to other professionals who can.

Yes, you can include professional contacts who are themselves prospective clients, and anyone else with whom you would like to stay in touch.

One difference between this and the alert you send to clients, however.

With the client alert, I said adding your comments is recommended but not essential. With a bulletin sent to lawyers and other professionals, I suggest always including your comments.

Why? Because with clients, the alert is about staying in touch and building the relationship. That’s also true with professional contacts, but with the latter, you also want to position yourself as a thought leader in your field.

Thus, the necessity of including your thoughts.

Tell them what you think, what you’re doing with the information, and what you think they might want to do with their clients, practice or business.

Of course there are no absolutes here. Do what feels right for you and your practice.

But do something.

Repeat business and referrals are waiting for you.

How to build your law practice with newsletters

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Learn, do, teach

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You learn about marketing. You do it and get good at it.

Life is good.

Life gets even better, however, if you take what you’ve learned and teach it to your professional contacts.

Teach them some things you’ve learned about marketing professional services, from me and others.

Teach them how to identify their target market and ideal client, and why it’s important to focus.

Teach them how to get more referrals from their clients and their professional contacts.

Teach them about using content to attract more prospects and show them what they can do to help them.

Teach them about the power of staying in touch with clients and prospects and the best ways to do that.

Teach them by sharing information and by the power of your example. Tell them what you’ve done to bring in new business, repeat business, bigger cases and better clients.

Share your process, your forms and checklists. Show them how you market your practice without spending a lot of time or breaking the bank, and how they can do the same.

As you do this, they will also learn more about you—your target market and ideal client. They’ll learn how to recognize them and the best way to refer them.

As you do this, you will train a small army of new referral sources for your practice.

They’ll appreciate you. They’ll want to help you. And they’ll have more clients or customers coming in that they can refer to you.

And they will, since no other lawyer is helping them this way.

This will help you identify and approach prospective referral sources

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A better way to ask for referrals

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Asking for referrals is easy. But the way you ask can make a big difference in the results you get.

Mary Kay Ash taught her distributors the right way. She said,

“When asking for a referral, don’t ask if they know someone who wants what we’re offering. Instead, ask for someone who has a problem we can solve.”

Why is this better? Because it gets the listener to focus on their friends’ problem or desire, not your products or services.

When you ask a client this type of question, in their mind’s eye they can see their cousin who is in a bad marriage or their friend whose daughter just had a baby and might need to prepare a Will. They might know an entrepreneur who needs to incorporate or a business owner who has mentioned having trouble with his employees.

If they say they know someone, ask them to give their friend your card.

Still, this may not be right for your practice area, or it may feel too aggressive.

In that case, another way to ask is to do a “referral bypass,” and yes, that’s something I just made up.

Instead of asking for a referral to a prospective client, ask for a referral to a professional or business owner who sells to or advises people in your target market.

The kinds of people who may know people who need your services, now or in the future.

When they say they have a friend who sells insurance to medical professionals (if that’s your target market), ask for a few details and if the friend sound like someone you might like to know, ask if they would introduce you.

Or, tell them you’ll look them up and ask if it would be okay to mention their name.

Contact the referral, introduce yourself, tell them you have a mutual friend or client or colleague, and ask them to tell you more about what they do. If all goes well, at some point they’ll ask you to tell them more about what you do.

What do you say when they ask that question? How do you answer when someone asks, “What do you do?”

There’s a right way to answer that question and you can read all about it in my book, How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less.

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How to get more referrals without asking for referrals

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Three things I know about you:

  1. You understand that your clients and contacts could send you more referrals than they now send you;
  2. You know that asking for referrals is an effective way to get more of them, and
  3. You don’t want to ask.

What if you could get more referrals without asking or saying anything?

You can. I promise.

All you need to do is give your clients and contacts information—a report, a letter, a brochure—that explains:

  1. The services you offer, problems you solve, and benefits you help people achieve. Provide examples for each problem and/or service.
  2. The types of clients and cases that are a good match for you, and how to recognize them.
  3. What to do when they recognize someone who might need your help, now or in the future. Tell them what to say, what to tell them about you, and the best way to refer them.

In other words, write something that tells your clients and contacts what you want them to know and do, and makes it easier for them to do it.

When you do that, you will get more referrals.

If they have sent you referrals before, they will send you more.

If they’ve never sent you referrals, they will be more likely to start.

Your report or letter tells them everything they need to know and tells them that referrals are a normal part of your practice and a simple way to help the people they know get the help they need.

Bottom line: more referrals, without saying or asking for anything.

You can learn what to put in your report or referral letter, how to distribute it, and other strategies for getting more referrals, here:

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How to build your referral network

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Your referral network is more than just people who are willing to send you clients. It includes people who are can introduce you to people they know who are influential in your target market.

This includes other professionals, business owners, consultants, sales people, and others who sell to or advise people in your niche. It also includes bloggers, authors, editors, meeting planners, podcasters, and others who have a list or a following.

It also includes people who can send traffic to your website, promote your events and offers, and provide you with testimonials and reviews.

Because a referral is more than just, “I have a new client for you”.

When you think of referrals this way, you realize that there are a lot of people you’d like to have in your network.

How do you find them?

The simplest way is to leverage your existing contacts. Your current and former clients, professional contacts, and other people who know, like and trust you, can lead you to people they know that you’d like to have in your network.

Prospective clients can also send you referrals and/or introduce you to others.

Okay, so what do you do?

Well, how aggressive are you willing to be?

If the answer is, “not very,” then simply stay in touch with everyone in your existing network.

Send them something useful–information, a checklist or form, your newsletter–and ask them to share it with people they know who might like to get a copy.

For better results, suggest who that might be–their colleagues, their clients, or their friends and family, for example.

You could also invite them to an event you’re conducting, and ask them to tell people about it.

Make sure you have a way to capture the email addresses of the people they tell about you. Build your list and you will build your referral network.

Now, if you’re willing to step things up a bit, pick up the phone or email a specific person you know. Tell them you’re building your network and could use their help. Ask them to introduce you to someone they know.

Ask a former client to contact their accountant or broker or former business partner, for example, and suggest that the two of you get together or speak on the phone.

Why should their contact speak to you? Because the two of you “might have some mutual business interests” or simply because the client thinks the two of you “should know each other”.

It doesn’t have to be brilliant. Just as you want to build your network, these other folks want to build theirs. With a mutual friend or client introducing you, everyone wins.

Here’s how to build your practice with email

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If your net isn’t working

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Many lawyers find networking to be a waste of time. Ditto for networking online, aka Social Media. 

Some have been at it for a long time with little to show for it. They may have collected 1000 business cards from events they’ve attended, or have thousands of connections on LinkedIn (et. al.), but, their phone isn’t ringing. 

That’s because it’s not quantity that’s paramount, it’s quality. 

A handful of high-quality connections can eventually lead to a steady stream of new business for you. 

What is a high-quality connection? 

Someone who has influence in your target market. They know people who might need your services (or have clients or customers who do) and will listen to them when they recommend you.  

In other words, they have the ability to send you referrals or introduce you to business and professional contacts who can do that.  

That’s the easy part. There are plenty of people who meet that definition. 

The hard part is finding people who are willing to send you those referrals or make those introductions.

That’s a daunting task when you’re trying to sort through a thousand contacts. 

That’s why the best networkers don’t show up at events seeking to meet everyone they can. They don’t follow anyone they find on socials, hoping they will follow them back. 

Instead, they have found that the best way to meet and connect with the right people is to deliberately target them. 

Make a list of 25-50 of the most influential people in your target market. Contact them, introduce yourself, and find out what you can do to help them. 

Because helping them is the best way to get them to help you. 

Here’s how to find and approach influential people in your target market

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The future of your law practice

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It should be obvious that some practice areas will soon be “hotter” than others, if they’re not already. Divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, loan workouts, evictions, and other areas are likely to be in high demand.

What can you do with this information?

If you’re starting (or re-starting) a practice, it makes sense to practice in one of these areas. Get ready for the coming wave.

If you have a general practice right now, get prepared to emphasize these those practice areas. Work on your skills, create more content, and explore ways to market your services to clients who need those services.

If you don’t practice in any of these high-demand areas, consider adding them to your repertoire.

Finally, if you don’t practice in any of these areas and you’re not inclined to start, align yourself with lawyers and firms that do.

When the wave hits and your clients and prospects ask you for help with something you don’t handle, you want to be able to refer them to someone.

Helping the client, and scoring points with attorneys to whom you’re referring business, can only lead to more business and good will for you.

Of course, this is something you should be doing anyway. It’s a smart way to build your practice.

Start by making a list of practice areas you predict will be in high demand. Then, make a list of attorneys you know who practice in those areas.

After that, begin looking for attorneys you don’t know. Start by asking your current contacts who they know who specialize in those areas.

Contact them, introduce yourself, and tell them you’d like to know more about what they do. As you get to know them, they will get to know what you do.

Which should lead to some referrals for you.

Start now. Get ready for your clients and prospects to ask you for a referral.

Because they will.

You can learn more about how to do this in my Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referrals Course.

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