I hope you found our last conversation about shadowing attorneys’ online activities to be useful. Attorneys are trying to get in front of the same audience we are – business owners and the people who influence them. So why not emulate the marketing tools and social media activities attorneys use to get noticed by them?
On to this week. When an attorney, banker, CPA, or wealth planner refers business to us, it can feel like we should refer business back to them (because, surely, everyone is keeping score). And we do that when we can. But in reality, we can’t refer to everyone because we likely don’t have that many referrals to make. What’s a BVFLS professional to do?
Also, the changes to your LI profile that I wrote about last month now appear to have been rolled out to everyone.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
If you could assemble our industry’s top BVFLS professionals, what would you want to ask them about how they built their practices? Or where they spend their marketing budgets? Or what they would do to promote their firms if they were starting over today?
Starting in July, I will be presenting live, online interviews with an incredible line-up of seasoned practitioners who will share their experiences, insights, and secret sauce. Together, they will provide answers to questions that can elevate your practice development results. Stay tuned.
When it comes to asking other professionals for referrals, we are like Pac Man running around the game board gobbling up sources and leads. Because the more referrals we get … the more opportunities we have to convert … the more engagements we land. Life is good.
But how do we or can we reciprocate the generosity of our referrers? Yes, we can send gift baskets or other similar tokens of appreciation, but let’s face it – it’s not the same as referring back a four- or five-figure client.
So what are the stumbling blocks for us? There are two, I think.
- We are the problem solvers, not the problem finders! And we generally only become aware of problems after we learn about them from the referrer. We only know so-and-so has an estate plan to execute after we hear about it from the estate planning attorney.
- We are building or already have many, many relationships with referral sources, all of whom perform the same kind of service, e.g., litigation attorneys. Who do we pick? And the wicket gets stickier if our practices and our referral sources are concentrated in a geographic area.
That said, I think the larger your practice/firm, the more projects you work on, the more opportunities you will have to make referrals back to the professionals who refer you.
Conversely, the smaller your practice/firm, the more difficult making referrals become. And if you are a 1-3 person firm, I think you are pretty much SOL. But that’s ok.
So how have I “solved” the referral reciprocity conundrum?
I have found that the best I can do is to promise an attorney who referred me into an engagement that I will make them look good to their client by hiring me. Then I deliver on that promise. Most times, this is all the attorney is really looking for.
What has your experience been?
I don’t know of any BVFLS professional for whom referrals are not the lifeblood of their practices. I am not saying those professionals don’t exist … just that I don’t of any. Maybe you do.
I do know several BVFLS professionals who are making more of an effort to market directly to business owners (particularly in the exit planning arena), but even then they are hoping that those business owners refer other business owners.
So it all really comes down to referrals.
In real life
Let’s be clear about one thing – the difference between a referral and a recommendation. A referral means being part of a short list. When you get referred, there will likely be two or three others on the list, and the fee-paying prospect/client makes the choice.
A recommendation means you are the short list. You are the only person being considered. The recommender says to her client, “If you need someone to help grow your practice, Rod is the person you should talk to.” The recommender makes the choice for her client.
What do you need to do/become in order to be recommended, not referred?
Reading that can help
How to Get Referrals Without Referring Back (an interesting read about the thinking that drives referrals amongst attorneys)
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