Most firms believe that referrals and cross-selling are essential to growing this practice. The challenge is how? In 2016 ALPMA (Australasian Legal Practice Management Association) and Julian Midwinter & Associates, published a report on referrals and cross selling and how they can be the most effective way to grow your law firm or practice.
In their report, they also looked at how successfully in law firms are managing referrals and how they are cross selling. They looked at what firms are doing, what are the barriers and challenges were.
No plan, no referrals
The report found most firms approach referrals and cross selling without a plan or strategy. In our experience most firms (and in fact most businesses) tend to think about referrals and cross selling as a sales activity but they should be part your integrated marketing strategy. So it’s important that a referrals and cross selling strategy are actually part of your marketing plan (assuming you have one!).
A Referral process for Firms
One of the problem areas Julian Midwinter identified in the report was there is very high percentage, over 75% of firms that don't have a proper referral plan in place. So how does a firm get client referrals ?
Here's 9 ideas that we put in place for firms to help create a structured referral plan:
- Classify all clients as A, B and C based on their value to the firm and put in place a planned contact schedule (either a call or meeting) with past clients (e.g. "A" clients meet/call a client every month; "B" Clients call every second month; "C" Clients call every quarter etc).
- Develop a clear agenda for the calls/meetings that contains:
Feedback on work performed previously to identify and address any issues. This will help you understand what the clients think of the Firm and establish a basis for the rest of the conversation.
Helpful Information. Research and find information for the client that may affect their business (maybe industry data or an article on a competitor) mention and offer to email it (or print out and hand to them if meeting face to face). This will create a positive impression of "caring about them".
Ask clients what referrals would help them. Develop a "script" for how you will ask clients what specific referrals they are looking for. Perhaps talking about how your firm wants to help their clients grow and is able to provide information/introductions to help them do this. This creates a reciprocity with your clients.
- Ask clients for referrals that will help your Firm. Develop a "script" for how you will ask clients for specific referrals you are looking for. Because you have offered to help them with referrals first they are likely be more open to this.
- Follow-through to get a response. Your client has other priorities that you need to keep in mind so plan to send a follow-up email three days after the meeting with a summary of what you are working any requests from the client, key next dates, ideally the information or introductions for the clients that were discussed and a reminder on what referrals your business was looking for.
- Follow-through again to ensure you get results. Politely follow up with a letter, seven days later (if no email response). Develop and use a template ("you may have missed our email and I "just wanted to make sure you got the information".
- Send them your ongoing monthly newsletter that provides key dates, tips and case studies that support previous discussions to keep you "Top of Mind"
- Mix up the conversations with a letter or a call to "check in" / provide them with a referrals and let them know about a new or existing service.
- Send a "thank-you" note or card sent to all clients who provide referrals, within the same week the referral was received. That surprise reinforces positive referral behaviour.
- Make sure you update them on progress when you win new business and provide a thank you gift or card. This demonstrates your appreciation of their referral.
- Track everything. Do monthly activity reports of meetings held, referrals received, clients won plus the contact activities and results from those activities.
If you would like to discuss creating an implementing and measuring an effective Integrated Marketing Plan or even a Client Referral strategy for your firm we would love to help. Just call 1300 676 448 or contact us for an obligation-free discussion.