How to warm up a cold approach

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By far, the best way to approach a new business contact or prospective client is to have a mutual contact introduce you. When you identify someone you’d like to meet, go through your list of contacts to see if you know someone who knows them, or might know someone who does. Ask for an introduction or permission to use their name.

If you don’t know anyone who can introduce you, you can still approach them. But it will take more effort.

Whether you contact them by email or by phone, your initial objective is the same: to get their attention and stay out of the slush pile.

A few do’s and don’ts.

DON’T

  • DON’T pitch anything. Save that for later; probably much later.
  • DON’T ask for anything, e.g., a guest post, a link, etc.
  • DON’T brag about yourself; in fact, say almost nothing about yourself, focus on them
  • DON’T lie or exaggerate
  • DON’T ask them to read something or do something; they’re busy, just like you

DO

  • DO mention your mutual friend or contact. How did you get their name?
  • DO reference something you have in common (a mutual interest, cause, target market or industry, practice area, background, etc.)
  • DO mention something you like about something you heard about them or read, (their article, post, video, interview, etc.
  • DO tell them why you’re contacting them and what’s in it for them; give them a reason to listen
  • DO keep your message brief; get to the point
  • DO make the next step easy (ask them to reply, tell them you’ll call, tell them to watch their email)

So, what is in it for them? Why are you contacting them?

Here are some good options:

  • To offer information that will help them or their clients, or information about something that interests them
  • To discuss a mutual interest (an industry or local issue, similarly aligned clients, proposed laws or regs, etc.)
  • To invite them to speak at your meeting, to interview them for your newsletter, to participate in a panel discussion, etc.
  • To introduce yourself, learn more about what they do and how you might work together to your mutual benefit

To learn more about how to find and approach people you don’t know, and what to offer them, get this

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Stirring the marketing pot

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I assume you have a list of professionals you know and respect and who know and respect you. People who could send you referrals but haven’t. Or haven’t done so in a long time.

Don’t wait for them to send you referrals on their own. Stir the pot. Make something happen.

Call through your list. One a day, five a day, whatever you can handle.

Say something like, “I want to start working with you (again). Can you send me some information I could share with my clients? Not a brochure or sales piece, a report, an article, an ebook, or something else you wrote that you send to prospective clients?”

When they tell you they do, tell them great, send it over. (If they don’t have anything, ask if they could put something together.)

Before you hang up, say, “If any of my clients want to talk to you, ask some questions or get some additional information about what you do, can I tell them to call you? Is email better?”

Make sure they are open to being contacted and you know their preferred method. Plant the seed that this might happen.

Finally, say, “I’ll make sure they mention my name so you know where they came from.”

What’s next?

Send the information to your clients and prospects, along with a note about your friend. Say something nice about them. Tell how you met, share a story. Encourage your clients to call them if they have any questions or want more information about what they do, and to mention your name.

And, that’s it.

What will happen? You think I have a crystal ball? Something will happen. I don’t know what, or when.

Okay, some of your contacts will ask you to send them something they can send to their clients. Some will ask this before you finish that first conversation. Others will do that down the line.

Either way, go ahead and send their information to your list.

And then, wait.

Something will happen. The professional will contact you and tell you they signed up one of your clients. Or your client will contact you and tell you they had a nice conversation with that professional and thank you for putting them in touch.

Eventually, more will happen. Clients will sign up, money will change hands, and out of nothing, you will have created something. Which is better than waiting and doing nothing.

How to get referrals from other professionals: here

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20 calls a day

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I listened to a podcast featuring a sales trainer for a very successful real estate broker. He said his brokers are asked (required?) to make 20 calls a day. They can do more, but 20 calls are the minimum expected of them.

I assume these calls are to property owners who might be open to selling. The goal is to get a listing appointment, or failing that, to find out when the property owner might be open to that and scheduling a date to contact them again. They would also ask for referrals.

The sales trainer said that consistently making 20 calls a day allows the brokers get enough listings and sales to earn a substantial income.

Okay, 20 calls a day (five days a week) is not difficult. I would think you can get it done in an hour or two, leaving enough time for appointments and other things agents do.

Can lawyers do something like this? Yes and no:

Problem: Lawyers usually aren’t allowed to cold call prospective clients

Solution: call prospective referral sources. Introduce yourself, ask about their practice or business, invite them to meet you or offer to send them information. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn what to say and do, with lawyers and with other professionals.

Problem: Lawyers don’t have time to make 20 calls a day

Solution: Make 10 calls. Or 2.

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls on your behalf.

Solution: Calling is best, but email can work too.

Problem: Lawyers don’t want to make calls

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls, or send emails.

Contacting prospective referral sources (or prospective clients if you are permitted to do so) isn’t the only way to build a law practice, just as it’s not the only way to build a real estate business. But it is one of the best.

Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals

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Who’s on your marketing shopping list?

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You want new clients. Okay, what kind? Write down a description of your ideal client. Do the same thing for your ideal referral source. And be specific.

Great. You’ve got yourself a shopping list. With people on it.

Why is this a good idea? Because by identifying who you want to come into your life, you are more likely to find them.

Instead of networking “anywhere,” you’ll go to events likely to be inhabited by your ideal client and the people who can refer him.

Instead of writing articles and posts that target “everyone” with a legal problem you handle, you’ll write posts tailored to the specific types of clients you want to attract.

Instead of waiting for things to happen, your shopping list will help you make things happen. When your list says, “commercial leasing broker on the Westside,” for example, that’s who you’ll find.

It works like this: once you get specific about who you want, your reticular activating system (RAS) sifts through the mountain of input you encounter each day, looking for clues, and alerting you when it finds them. All of sudden, you start seeing Westside commercial brokers everywhere.

You’ll look at their websites and social media profiles and learn about them. You might identify a mutual acquaintance who can introduce you. Or you might send them the article you wrote about issues important to commercial real estate brokers on the Westside. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting for coffee and finding ways to work together.

Can’t this happen without a list? Of course. But the odds of finding precisely the kinds of professional contacts or clients you want to meet, at random, are about as good as getting the Christmas gift you want this year without giving your family a list.

I already know what I’m getting from my daughter this year. Funny how that works.

How to identify your ideal referral source

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You only need one

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Let’s say you want to get more referrals from other professionals. Where do you start?

You start by finding one professional who can and will send you business. If you already have one, you start by finding one new one.

Because one is all you need to start.

You only need one because, in the course of finding them, you will acquire the knowledge and skills you need to find more.

You’ll learn where to find them, how to approach them, and how to help them get what they want. You’ll learn how to help them even if you don’t have referrals for them. You’ll learn how to build a relationship, nurture it, and help it to grow.

You’ll go through a lot of candidates to find that one. Many will disappoint you. Some will lie and stab you in the back. But eventually, you’ll find one who is the real deal and soon, that one will turn into two.

You’ll get better at finding good referral sources and developing relationships. And soon, you’ll have a few.

And a few is all you need to build a big practice.

A few good professional referral sources can introduce you to powerful people in your niche or community. Those people will trust you because they trust the person who introduced you. They will open doors for you, introduce you to their colleagues and friends, and eventually, important people will know your name.

Your marketing will be easier. You’ll get bigger results. Better clients. And even more referral sources.

You don’t need to figure out how to build an army, just figure out how to get one recruit. Once you do, the next step will reveal itself to you.

But it all starts with one.

Here’s how you find new professional referral sources

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Three ways to level up your practice

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When it comes to growing a law practice, slow and steady works. But, by definition, it’s slow. What if you want to grow quickly? What if you want to dramatically increase your income in a relatively short period of time?

Oh yes, it can be done. Some lawyers do it right out of the law school gate. Some do it when they reach their “day of disgust” and finally decide to get serious about marketing. Some do it when they see their numbers dropping and their fear of losing everything motivates them to finally take action.

But it can be done.

There are lots of things you could do to dramatically increase your income. I’m going to give you three. But more important than “what you do” is “what you think” and so first, I’m going to give you a few mindset adjustments.

First, to significantly boost your income you’ll need to do things that offer a big potential payoff. That means there might be additional risk and additional expense and you have to be prepared to accept this. You also need to be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.

Second, you have to jettison the idea that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you work and the amount of income you earn. It’s not about how long it takes to do the work, it’s about how much value you deliver.

Third, you have to look for ways to employ leverage. One of the simplest ways to do that is to hire (more) people or outsource, and delegate as much of your work as possible. Rule of thumb: you should ONLY do those things that ONLY you can do. NB: there is very little that ONLY you can do.

Fourth, no matter how good you are getting things done you’ll probably need to get better. If you want to dramatically grow your practice, working harder is an option but so is working smarter.

Working smarter means “doing the right things,” the “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results and income”. It also means “doing things right”–getting the work done more quickly, efficiently, and with less effort.

With these principles in mind, here are three ways you might level up your practice:

(1) Bigger cases or better clients.

Bigger cases pay bigger fees. Why settle for an average fee of $10,000 when you could get $25,000? Or $100,000? The cases are out there and there’s no reason why you can’t get them.

Better clients pay higher fees and have more legal work. Why settle for “one of” work when you can bring in clients who have a steady stream of work?

(2) Increase your fees

One of the simplest ways to earn more is to charge more. Consider increasing your fees.

Not ten or fifteen percent, thirty percent. Fifty percent. 100%. Or more.

Crazy? Maybe. But maybe not. There’s only one way to find out.

Yes, you’ll lose some clients who can’t afford the increase or don’t want to pay it, but the new clients you bring in could more than offset those losses.

(3) Better referral sources (and more of them)

One of the best ways to bring in more business is to find referral sources that can send you more clients (and better clients, while you’re at it). Find professionals who can refer you five clients per month instead of five clients per year.

They’re out there and you can find them. Here’s a hint: they usually hang out with each other. Find one and they will lead you to others.

So, what do you think? Are you thinking, “These won’t work for me,” or are you thinking, “How can I make these work for me?”

Your attitude will determine your altitude. Translation: if you want to get big, fast, you need to think big and take massive action.

And remember, if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Plan your plan with this

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How to approach a prospective referral source

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The Internet presents endless resources for finding people who might become a referral source for you.

They’re out there, in droves.

But once found, how do you approach them? How do you get their attention without appearing needy? How do you start a conversation and bring up the subject of referrals?

How about simply introducing yourself?

Tell them who you are, what you do, and why you are contacting them.

I assume you can handle the who you are and what you do part, but make it brief. One or two sentences. Only enough so they know you’re a fellow professional.

As for why you’re contacting them, well, why are you doing that?

Because you see a connection with them. (If you don’t, contact someone else.) Tell them about the connection.

You found their website or social media profile and see that you and they target the same market. You represent the same types of clients. You offer services that dovetail with theirs. Or they’ve written an article that deals with issues you’ve written about or care about.

Introduce yourself. Mention the connection. Invite them to chat.

“I thought I’d reach out to you, find out more about what you do, tell you more about what I do, and see if there might be a way we could work together.”

If you’re speaking to them on the phone, continue the conversation. Of invite them to meet you for a cup of coffee. If you have contacted them via email, ask, “When would be a good time to chat for a couple minutes?”

You’ve been honest with them, you have suggested a possible benefit to them, and you haven’t pushed.

They’re either interested in speaking to you or they are not. If they’re interested, move forward. If they’re not, move on.

When you talk, ask lots of questions and keep the focus on them. Get them to tell you about what they want or need. What are their goals and plans for the future? What obstacles are in their way?

Look for ways you could help them or their clients, either directly or by introducing them to someone you know.

Then ask, “Who would make a good referral for you?”

Powerful question, that. It tells them you’re serious about working with them.

When it’s your turn, tell them about your practice and tell them who would make a good referral for you. Tell them you’ll send them more information and invite them to do the same.

Is that all you have to do to get business from someone you just met? Usually not. But sometimes, it is. Sometimes, in speaking with you, they think about someone they know who might need your help.

After your chat, send business if you can. Send information about something they want or need or that might benefit their clients. Share marketing ideas with them. Introduce them to vendors and freelancers who can help them. Invite them to write an article for your client newsletter. Offer to interview them for your blog or podcast.

They will (at some point) do the same for you.

There’s more you can do to build a referral relationship. A lot more. But you’ve opened the door and started the process, and that’s the most important part.

Learn what to say and do to get referrals from other professionals, here

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How much detail do you have in your lawyer referral database?

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I got a call from an old friend the other day. She was injured and wanted to know if I could help her find an attorney. I live in California, she’s in Virginia, but fortunately, I knew some attorneys near her.

I emailed an attorney friend in her city and asked if he could help. He replied, “I can find you the right person. Let me know the nature of the claim: medical malpractice? Vehicular collision? Police shooting? Premises liability? There are different lawyers who would be best, depending on the cause.”

I wrote back, gave him more details, and he provided me with two names and phone numbers which I passed along to my injured friend.

If she is able to hire an attorney through this referral:

  1. My friend will get the help she needs from a lawyer who is right for the job
  2. The attorney who takes the case will have a new client
  3. My attorney friend gets the credit for making the referral, and
  4. I get the satisfaction of helping put this together.

I knew my friend was well-connected. He is a great lawyer and a consummate marketer. What I didn’t know is how much he knows about the lawyers on his list.

Knowing what the lawyers on your list do best allows you to be a better matchmaker. That increases the odds of a successful referral and saves everyone a lot of time.

There’s a lesson here, aside from the obvious one that lawyers should keep a list of other lawyers to whom they can refer. It is the value of taking the time to get to know more about them—what they do best, what kinds of cases or clients they prefer, which ones they won’t take—because as you learn this information about them, you prompt them to learn the same information about you.

In your lawyer database, don’t stop with just practice areas. Dig. Ask questions. Get a description of their ideal client. And then give them yours.

Learn more about getting referrals from other lawyers

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Extreme vetting of lawyers

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I got an email from a lawyer who had a bad experience with a referral to another lawyer who mishandled the case (and the client). She’s feeling gun shy now about giving referrals and wants to know what she might do to vet lawyers before sending them any business.

First, let me point out that most lawyers do a decent job most of the time so there is no need to panic or stop referring because one lawyer messed up. It happens, we deal with it, and we move on.

In choosing lawyers to whom you will refer, do what you might do if you were going to hire them yourself. Start with obvious due diligence measures: check with the bar for discipline and complaints, search online to dig up any dirt, review their web site(s) and examine their experience and other qualifications.

Make sure they have sufficient staff to handle the job and carry E and O insurance.

You might give them extra points for expert certification, serving as an arbitrator or judge pro tem, teaching CLE, bar association committees, awards, and so on.

In addition, you may want to

  • Talk to other lawyers who know them, including opposing counsel and judges who have seen them in action
  • Read articles they have written and articles that were written about them. Get a sense of their world view, processes, communication skills, and personality.
  • Run a credit check and/or a background check if there’s a lot at stake or your Spidey-sense is telling you there’s something wrong

If you’re still not sure, have a chat with them. Tell them you want to make sure they’re the right lawyer for the job. Anyone who is qualified should respect that.

You might ask them to fill out a questionnaire, something like the ones E and O carriers use, where they are asked to disclose their calendaring and conflict checking systems and other safeguards and to disclose any malpractice lawsuits against them. Check with your carrier because some require this information as a prerequisite to defending a claim against you for a negligent referral.

While you’re at it, consider whether your client will be comfortable with the lawyer’s personality and style. Not every competent lawyer is a good match for every client.

Start by referring small matters, so you can see how they handle them and how they treat the client. Stay involved with the case, not to micro-manage it but as a second pair of eyes on behalf of the client. They are still your client, after all. Check in with them regularly, to see how things are progressing and to look for signs of trouble. Make sure they know to contact you if they have any questions or concerns.

Bottom line: do your homework but don’t let a bad experience with one lawyer unduly color your judgment in choosing others.

Get more referrals from other lawyers

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What to do with a referral source who isn’t referring?

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What do you do when a referral source isn’t referring?

The wrong thing to do, of course, is to push them. Point out that they haven’t referred much lately or that their numbers have fallen off. Or that they “owe” you.

That’s probably not going to work. In fact, it could easily backfire by alienating them and causing them to do even less.

No, the best way to get a referral source to refer more is to assume (until you learn otherwise) that he is doing all that he can and then help him to be able to do more.

In other words, help his business or practice grow so he will have more customers or clients to refer.

You can do that by introducing him to some of your business contacts who might be able to send him business, make introductions, or open doors to speaking or networking opportunities.

You can feature his business or practice or his products or services on your website and in your newsletter.

You can recommend marketing experts or vendors, or share information you’ve found (books, courses, blogs) that could help him get more clients or bigger clients.

And you can send him some referrals of your own. No, he won’t be able to refer those clients back to you but those clients might refer other clients to him, which he can refer to you. Also, the cash flow your referrals generate might allow him to expand his business in other areas.

But here’s the thing. Even just offering to help him could make a difference. How many other lawyers do that?

Show him you’re trying to help him and when he’s able to refer more, you can bet that you’ll be number one on his list.

Get more referrals from lawyers, other professionals and business owners: click here

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