One client generation tool that every law firm must have is referrals. However, most law firms and attorneys focus their energies on generating referrals from other professionals and fail to create a system that consistently generates referrals from their own clients – those individuals and families who have already personally experienced the difference your service makes to their security and peace of mind. In fact, research shows that word of mouth referrals are far more effective at influencing which businesses and professionals customers choose to work with than traditional marketing.
Think about your best clients. What made them great to work with? What was your experience of them and what was their experience working with your firm? Do you want more clients like them? Have they referred others to you? Odds are that your highest quality referrals already come from your ideal clients. Imagine the difference it would make in your practice if each of those ideal clients referred at least one other family to you. The magic to making that picture a reality lies in creating a proactive referral generation process anchored in their relationship with you, ongoing communication, and gratitude.
Here are some tips to creating your own referral generation process:
- Know Your WHY: Develop an inspirational reason for why you do what you do. This should be grounded in who you want to be for the families you help and is about the contribution you get to make to them. This is a personal connection that drives you rather than it being self-serving. Without a clear WHY, most people end up making referrals about themselves instead of focusing on the VALUE they provide to clients.
- Deliver a Transformational Client Experience: The businesses who create the most raving fans and generate the most word of mouth referrals are also focused on creating a transformational client experience. They are not the least expensive or the largest player in town. They tell clients what to expect every step of the way, exceed expectations, build trust, nurture relationships and resolve complaints quickly.
- Request Client Reviews & Testimonials: After providing an exceptional client experience that surpasses their expectations, build the conversation about referrals into your feedback process. For instance, at their final signing meeting ask clients to provide a testimonial or rate your services online. This is one of the points in time when they are feeling the most gratitude about working with your firm and an ideal time to have a conversation with them about other people who might be in need of your services. Online reviews also serve to further enhance your online reputation and provide social proof about the value you provide.
- It’s a Conversation: Be proactive. If you don’t bring it up, you won’t get referrals! Focus on the value they received from working with your firm. Don’t ask who they know that would benefit from having an estate plan. Instead, have a conversation about who they know and love that has similar issues as them and would benefit from being informed about their estate planning options and having some peace of mind about their biggest concerns. Let them know how they can be of service to those loved ones, rather than it being about your firm. Create a script for how the conversation will sound so it eliminates any anxiety but remember to make it an organic conversation and teach them when and how to connect their friends and loved ones with your firm.
- Say “Thank You”: Remember to express your gratitude to those clients who refer, even if you don’t retain the person they sent your way. Acknowledge them for thinking of your firm and also helping others make their estate planning a priority. A handwritten thank you note goes a long way. Check your state bar rules on what other tokens of appreciation are allowed, such as gift certificates or a box of chocolates.
- Create a marketing system that gives clients the opportunity: The referral system you create should revolve around your “touches” with clients and talking with them about referrals at the appropriate moments. It is made up of a lot of little things that can produce big results. It should take any guess work out and be followed the same way for every client you retain. Don’t forget to nurture those clients and stay in touch so they continue to receive value from their relationship with your firm and keep you top of mind.
After creating your own system, ensure that you are tracking your progress and results. You may need to make some adjustments along the way to create the results you desire. Academy Members have access to a step-by-step client generation system, including letters and forms plus personalized coaching to ensure their efforts produce results.
Practice Leadership Coach
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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