When is the best time to ask for referrals?

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According to a financial advisor who posted an answer to this question, the best time to ask for referrals is at the time you deliver the work-product (document, settlement check, etc.) or other benefits.

I agree. This is the best time.

The client is feeling good about you and their decision to hire you. They’ve seen tangible evidence of your ability to deliver results. They may be thinking about people they know who could benefit from your services.

But while this is the best time, you can also ask at other times.

Of course, it depends on what we mean by “asking”.

You can “ask” by handing the client a letter or brochure that describes your “ideal client” (how to spot them, how to refer them) at any time.

Your “new client welcome kit” should include such a document.

You can “ask” in your newsletter. After sharing a client success story, you could include a call to action to download your aforesaid document or read it on your website.

When a client is in the office for any reason, you could hand them a few of your business cards and casually say, “in case you know someone who needs an attorney. Tell them to mention your name.”

You can (and should) also talk to prospective clients about referrals. After a free consultation, for example. You can also ask in your declination letter.

There are different ways to “ask” for referrals. Pick something and use it.

The more you do, the more referrals you’ll get.

Here’s how to get maximum referrals

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A missed opportunity?

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If you’ve ever been to the Old Town Mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, you may have noticed the statue of a bronze cowboy seated on a bench, near some of the shops. You may have seen the many tourists who pass by and touch his hat or sit down next to him to have their picture taken.

But The Bronze Cowboy isn’t a statue at all, he is a man dressed, head to toe, in an amazingly realistic costume, much to the surprise and delight of the passersby who see the statue wave at them or put his arm around their shoulder when they sit down.

When the statue moves, his “victims” are startled and then laugh as they realize they have been fooled by what they were sure was a “real” statue. It’s great fun and makes for some great video content.

The Bronze Cowboy has a satchel on his lap and a few folks put a dollar or some coins in it but surely that’s not enough to justify sitting in the hot sun for hours at a time. No doubt his income comes from ads on his videos.

I was watching one of his offerings the other day and thought he’s missing a great opportunity to build his channel.

No doubt most of the dozens of people each day who sit next to him and have a good laugh would like to see themselves on youtube. Why doesn’t he give them a card with a link to his channel?

Many victims would subscribe to the channel and tell their friends to go watch them. Those friends would tell others.

But he doesn’t pass out a card. He remains silent and in character, waiting for his next victim to sit down.

Maybe he does hand out something and edits this out. Or maybe he has an assistant hand out a card off camera.

I hope so. With a little promotion, his channel and income would multiply.

The lesson for lawyers: The best source of new clients are your existing clients.

Encourage your victims, uh, clients, to tell their friends about you, your website, your presentation or offer, and your numbers will grow.

And you won’t have to get dressed up or sit in the hot sun to do it.

This shows you what to hand out to clients

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What else can I get you today?

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One of the simplest ways to increase your revenue is to make sure your clients know about other services offered by you or your firm, aka “cross-selling”.

(What’s that? You don’t offer other services? Have a seat. I’ll get back to you in a minute.)

Cross-selling is good for the client who needs additional services and might not know you offer them, and it’s obviously good for you.

Cross-selling can add decimal points to your bottom line, even if only a small percentage of clients “buy” your other services.

Don’t let the “selling” throw you. Just let your clients (and prospects) know “what else” you do. 

On your website, you can highlight links to pages that describe the other services. You can talk about the services in your newsletter. You can mention other services to the client at the end of the case or engagement.

No pressure. Here’s something else we do, would you like to get some information?

Now, if you only offer one service or group of closely-related services, if you don’t have any other practice areas, if you don’t work in a firm, you’re not out of luck.

Find other lawyers you trust and are willing to recommend and cross-sell their services to your clients and prospects.

If they offer (and you can accept) referral fees, great. If not, see if they are willing to cross-sell your services to their clients.

Make sense? Dollars, too.

More ways to work with other lawyers

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Client street is a two-way street

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Keep your clients happy. Deliver good results. Service (with a smile). Do a good job for your clients and you will be well-paid for your work.

Yes, but that’s not the whole story. 

You work for your clients, it’s true, but your clients also work for you. 

Oh, not literally, but that should be your attitude. You should expect that your clients will do things for you beyond merely paying your bill (on time). 

You should expect them to provide a positive review about you, for example, on one or more review sites. 

You should expect that they will provide you with a written testimonial, and give you permission to use it in your marketing. 

You should expect that they will “like” and “share” and “upvote” your articles, posts, videos, and other content, promoting you to their friends and followers and social media connections. 

If they have a blog or channel, you should expect them to mention you or interview you or offer you a guest post. 

You should expect them to tell their friends and clients about you, pass out your cards and brochures, and refer people who need your help.

Now, some lawyers actually talk to their clients about these things. They ask them to share and post and refer. There are ways to do that without making either the lawyer or client feel uncomfortable. But you don’t have to ask.

When you expect clients to refer, even if you never come right out and ask them to do it, they’ll pick up on the idea and come through for you. 

I call it “building a referral culture in your practice” and I talk about this in my (free) referral marketing course.

Here’s the link to the course.

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Three simple steps to getting more referrals

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Some of your clients are holding back on you. They know people who need your services but they don’t refer them.

Do you know why? 

More importantly, do you know what to do about it?

Yes, asking your clients for referrals will work. But we both know you don’t want to do that. You don’t want your clients to think you “need” business, or you don’t want to be “pushy”.

Even though I can teach you ways to ask for referrals that won’t make you (or your clients) uncomfortable, you wish there was another way.  

Fair enough. 

I just created a video course on how to get more referrals from your clients–without asking. 

The course is 90-minutes and (for now), it’s free. You can get it here

You’ll learn a simple 3-step system that works for any practice. And you can start using it immediately. 

Let me know what you think about the course or if you have any questions. 

Here’s the link again.


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You will always have competition and that’s good

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Are you concerned that there too many attorneys in your market? Don’t be. As long as there is demand for the legal work you perform, it doesn’t matter how many other attorneys there are competing for it.

The reason? Clients buy you before they buy your services, and you are unique. Build relationships with prospective clients and referral sources and you will effectively have no competition.

But hold on. Having competition is good.

It’s good because the existence of competition proves the existence of demand. If the work wasn’t there, the other attorneys would find something else to do.

Having competition is also good because it forces you to find ways to differentiate yourself. When you do, marketing is easier and more effective because you are able to show your market an advantage to choosing you.

Your competitors can also provide a fertile source of ideas. Follow them on social, subscribe to their newsletters, study their ads and blog posts, and discover what they’re doing that you can do better or differently, or discover market segments they have overlooked.

Meet your competition and get to know them. Find out what they need and how you can help them. They can become a source of referrals (conflicts, clients that are too big or too small, etc.) for both of you. And, if you find yourself on the opposite sides of a case, your relationship might help you reach a better resolution.

Don’t worry about the competition. Embrace it.

How to get referrals from your competition

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A checkup from the neck up

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Successful estate planning attorneys regularly contact their clients to inquire about life changes that might necessitate an update to their plan.

No matter what area you practice in, you should do something similar.

Once a year (at least), send your clients information about changes in the law and a questionnaire. Invite them to talk to you.

Do this even if your handle litigation or bankruptcy or another area where your clients are unlikely to need you again.

Why?

So you can find out about other issues or changes in their life or business that necessitate a referral to another attorney or to another professional.

Create your questionnaire or “legal checkup” checklist by asking other professionals to provide information. Ask an insurance broker, for example, for a list of questions your clients should ask themselves about their current risk-levels and coverage. Ask a CPA for questions related to taxes, a financial planner about investments or retirement, and other attorneys about their practice areas.

In addition to asking your “referral partners” to help you prepare your legal checkup, ask them to provide a special offer for your clients, if appropriate. A free consultation or document review, for example.

Once you’ve got your legal checkup up and running, help your referral partners do the same thing for their clients.

An annual legal checkup will allow you to better protect and advise your clients and stimulate referrals to you and your referral sources.

It’s a beautiful thing.

How to get referrals from other attorneys

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Why you need friends who do estate planning

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No matter what type of practice you have, you should seek out and befriend estate planning attorneys.

Why?

  • Because estate planning attorneys have clients who need what you do and can usually afford to hire you. Damages from wage loss, business loss, or divorce are often higher.
  • Because estate planning attorneys don’t have to wait for “something” to happen, ie., a loss, litigation, which means they have a bigger universe of prospective clients available to them.
  • Because estate planning attorneys often do types of marketing you may not do (seminars, advertising, direct mail), bringing in a steady stream of new clients they can refer.
  • Because estate planning attorneys usually offer services at different price points, appealing to a wider spectrum of clients.
  • Because estate planning attorneys usually write a newsletter and/or otherwise stay in touch with their clients and prospects, giving them more opportunities to tell people about you and what you offer.
  • Because estate planning attorneys network with many other professionals they can introduce you to.
  • Because estate planning clients associate with people of similar age, background, income, and need for estate planning, so estate planning attorneys usually get more referrals they can refer to you.
  • Because most of your clients will need estate planning someday and you’ll want to have someone to whom you can refer them.

If you’re looking to build your network of professional contacts, estate planning attorneys are a good place to start.

If you are an estate planning attorney, now you know what you have to offer other attorneys.

How to get more referrals from other professionals

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Say ‘thank you’ for referrals. Loudly.

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One of the best ways to get more referrals is to thank the people who provide them. Do it quickly, sincerely, and appropriately. Make the referral-giver feel appreciated for their gesture and they’ll be more likely to do it again.

In addition, let your other clients and contacts know that you regularly get referrals and that you appreciate them.

Find ways to mention it in your newsletter, on your website, and in conversation.

For example, when you tell a client story (to illustrate a point), mention that the client you’re referencing heard about you from a co-worker who had a similar issue. Or you might say, “I just started working with a business owner referred to me by one of the tenants in his building we also represent.”

You can tell people that if they know someone who [has an issue you can help them with], to give them one of your cards. “Tell them to mention your name so I’ll know who to thank!”

When a professional sends you a referral, thank them, by name, in your newsletter, and give their practice a plug.

In your new client kit, describe how to identify someone who could use your help and how to make a referral. Mention that you get most of your clients through referrals and how much you appreciate your clients for supporting you.

It’s simple. Find ways to talk about referrals and you’ll get more referrals.

This will help

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Where will you be in six months?

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It’s six months from today and things are little slow. (Or, things are fine and you want to take your practice to the next level.)

Either way, you want more business.

No problem. You have a list of lawyers and other professionals who have clients that are a good match for you. They can send you referrals.

Most of these professionals have colleagues who are similarly situated. They can introduce you to them.

Most of these professionals know your name and what you do. They know you’re good at your job.

Some of them have met you, either in person or online. Some could be considered friends.

So, you make some calls.

You re-introduce yourself or tell them you’re checking in to see how they’re doing. You ask what they need or want and how you can help.

Do they need clients or customers? Introductions, recommendations or advice?

You do what you can to help them.

They ask how you’re doing. They ask what they can do to help you.

They send you referrals. They introduce you to their colleagues. They give you advice and recommendations. Your practice grows.

You want that list, don’t you? It sounds like just what you need.

There’s just one thing. That list isn’t going to make itself. You need to do that.

Better get started. It will be six months from now before you know it.

Step-by-step instructions on how to do this: click here

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