Stephen Fairley 2014-09-03 01:24:13
8 Proven Steps to Double Your Referrals From Other Attorneys For many law firms, referrals are the gold standard when it comes to obtaining new clients. However, too many attorneys rely on random referrals, which is just what the term implies ... referrals that may or may not come. A strong referral base is only built over a period of time and is based on cultivating great relationships with referral sources. Most referral sources will only send you referrals if they know you can and will make referrals back to them. I want to teach you the same system used by thousands of attorneys to significantly increase their referrals. THERE ARE THREE KEYS TO INCREASING YOUR REFERRALS FROM OTHER ATTORNEYS: 1. Market like a specialist. The fastest way to lose referrals from other attorneys is by practicing several different kinds of law, i.e., personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, SSDI, foreclosure defense, elder abuse, divorce, bankruptcy and criminal defense. In fact, every practice area you add over your primary one will cost you many referrals over time. If you primarily focus on divorce, but your website mentions that you also handle personal injury (because you take on one or two cases a year for existing clients), then you’re going to lose out on valuable referrals. Every personal injury attorney (who could have been a referral source) now views you as the competition. Even though 99 percent of your practice is divorce, that 1 percent of personal injury could cost you a lot of incoming referrals. Is it worth it? 2. Actively build relationships with at least 5 to 10 new referral sources each year. I know, easier said than done, but the best way to have your practice crash and burn is to entirely rely on a handful of referral sources. As the saying goes, "it's not a matter of if, but when" one or more of those referral sources will dry up, retire, merge with another firm, or just stop referring cases. Here are three proven ways to meet up with new referral sources: (1) Become active on LinkedIn. It’s a great tool to find and connect with other professionals who don’t compete with you. (2) Attend networking events with potential referral sources, not just your competitors. (3) Become more active in a national organization who has members that don’t practice in your geographical area. 3. Keep in touch with referral sources on a consistent basis – at least 5 to 10 times per year. This can be a combination of emails, LinkedIn or Facebook comments, newsletters, phone calls, small thank you gifts, and in-person quarterly visits. If you want to build a thriving network of attorney referral sources you must be prepared to go out of your way to generate referrals for them as well. Our clients have found the best way is with a monthly newsletter directed at your current and potential referral sources. Developing a referral relationship is a longterm, two-way process. It can’t just be you asking your legal peers for referrals. It requires regular contact and you showing as much concern for their business as you are asking them to show for yours. THE 8-STEP SYSTEM TO CREATE A REFERRAL NETWORK OF OTHER ATTORNEYS: 1. Identify your best possible referral sources. These will be other attorneys you don’t directly compete with, attorneys who are conflicted out of a case, firms who only want to handle major/ catastrophic injuries and need a solid referral source for smaller cases, and non-attorneys who are in position to refer you (medical professionals, chiropractors, accountants, financial advisors, etc.). 2. Create a database of 100-200 contacts in your local area. This should include every person who has ever referred someone to you as well as your identified best possible referral sources. Some good resources include: SuperPages.com, Avvo.com, and your local or state bar association. 3. Write up a letter of introduction to serve as a template. Here’s an example of a letter you could send to noncompeting attorneys: 4. Have your assistant mail out 10-20 letters per week. Do not send a bunch of letters at once – pace yourself. Our clients report this works best if you mail a letter versus just sending an email. Some of our clients have found success reaching out on LinkedIn. 5. For each letter you send out, plan on having your assistant make 3-4 calls to try and reach the person you sent the letter to. The purpose of this call is twofold: to see if they are interested in getting together and to set an appointment if they are. This is not direct solicitation or a sales pitch – it is simply a follow-up call to see if they are interested in meeting with you face-to-face. Prepare a simple phone script for your assistant and make sure he or she has the answers to simple questions about your law firm in case they ask: • How long have you been in practice/ business? • Who is your ideal client? • Where are you located? • What’s your primary practice area? • What’s your website URL? • How did you find my name/contact information? Be sure your assistant asks a few questions of your potential referral source: • Who is your ideal client? What kind of client do you enjoy working with the most? • Do you currently have a divorce attorney you refer clients to? • Are you open to discussing developing a referral relationship with a law firm like ours if there’s a good connection? • Do you seek to make referrals to other non-competing professionals? • How many clients do you serve in a typical year? • Where is your office located? If they are not interested, tell them, “No problem. I’m sorry to have bothered you. We will immediately remove you from our list of referral sources.” Here’s the truth ... they will welcome the call! Our clients have made thousands of these calls and scheduled hundreds of face-to-face meetings for them and only a handful have said no. Remember, this is not a sales pitch; it’s just lunch! Another option is to set up a brief meeting at first just to see if there’s a good connection. Offer to meet them at their office for 30 minutes (lower risk and very convenient for them). The first meeting or two needs to be face-to-face in order to establish rapport and build the relationship. Your assistant will need to call each contact 3-4 times just to get through. Don’t get discouraged! They are busy just like you. 6. The goal is to set 3-6 face-to-face meetings per month. At the face-to-face meeting you want to spend 80 percent of the time getting to know them and their practice to determine if it’s a good fit. Ask lots of questions: • How did you first get started in _____? • What do you like best/least about your work? • What’s the biggest challenge you face? • How do you find most of your clients? • What does your typical client look like? And the most important referral question of all: How would I know if someone would be a great referral for you? 7. Invite them to a second meeting if the first meeting goes well. If the initial meeting goes well, immediately invite them to a second one where you can go into more detail about your practice area and how the two of you could start cross-referring some business. Remember, you cannot promise them referrals, you cannot guarantee referrals, and in many cases you cannot pay them a referral fee. Exception: Several state bar associations allow for the payment of a referral fee to another attorney under specific circumstances. Please verify with your state bar prior to giving any referral fees. 8. Follow up! When it comes to getting more referrals from other attorneys and non-attorney professionals, the fortune is in the follow-up! Here are some tips: • Send an email immediately after you meet with them. Send the same day when possible. • Send a handwritten thank you card or form letter about 2-3 days after your initial meeting. • After your meeting put a task item in your Outlook for approximately 6-8 weeks after your initial meeting. • Set up lunch and learns where several professionals informally get together over lunch to exchange leads, discuss business and encourage each other. • Make your next meeting more about the relationship than business. Meet at the golf course, over drinks or at a casual restaurant. • Send them a copy of your brochure or an article they might be interested in. • Create and send out a monthly newsletter just for referral sources. • Use social media to stay connected – invite them to connect to you on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. At the Rainmaker Institute, we have taught this easy step-by-step system to thousands of attorneys who have used this process to quickly build networks of 50-60 new referral sources in 90 days. Imagine what would happen to your law practice if you could have 20, 40 or even 60 new referral sources every single year who consistently send you new clients. You can make it happen if you create a referral system that delivers real – not random – results. Two-time international bestselling author, Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in marketing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Over 10,000 attorneys nationwide have benefited from learning and implementing the proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Over the last 12 years, he has become a nationally recognized legal marketing expert and been named, “America’s Top Marketing Coach.” He has spoken numerous times for over 35 of the nation’s largest state and local bar associations and has a large virtual footprint with his highly successful Rainmaker legal marketing blog and has over 150,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, please visit www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com or call (888) 588-5891.
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