As the owner of a small law firm, you want to get more referral leads to grow your business. But where will you find more referrals and what strategies should you use to increase your conversion rates? Before any referral strategy can begin generating leads for you, you first need to identify your referral sources, nurture them, and then tap into their potential to have more prospects know about what your new business has to offer.
Before you continue reading, you need to adopt a mindset that one client represents a potential number of new leads or clients rather than just a single case. Satisfied leads and customers have the highest potential for further lead generation. If you want to know more about this, you should familiarize yourself with the concept of the perfect client lifecycle developed by Richard James, a law firm advisor and business consultant.
Identify Your Law Firm’s Referral Sources
The first step to growing your leads is identifying your top sources for referrals and tapping into those individuals. A referral source is not just limited to your current clients. It could be any individual, a company, a government entity, or any other persons who can exert an influence on your legal services’ target audience. A big portion of a successful attorney’s business plan involves harnessing these referral sources.
Your referral tactics must involve your whole network of people ranging from your family, colleagues, friends to your business acquaintances, club and sports members, and peers working in the same industry. Let’s take a look at each referral group one-by-one.
Clients and Prospects. Why are leads and clients good sources of referral? Since they are not part of your company, they make the best case for influencing others to choose your law firm. This includes existing customers, past clients, a client that reached out to your law firm for consultation but did not not show up on further appointments, and even prospects. Believe it when I say that a client’s positive experience today gets referrals at your door even after a year or half.
Even if they did not go through with that appointment, a pleasant experience with your firm’s brand is enough for them to bring in new calls to your office. Aside from word-of-mouth, you can deploy an email campaign strategy to introduce them to your referral program and the benefits and rewards they can get. This is why you should collect information from visitors on your site or prospects calling your firm.
Family and Peer Groups. Due to personal factors, these individuals are more likely to advocate for your small law firm and refer new leads. The best thing about it is that no formal communication is required: you can simply have an informal conversation, meeting, a phone call, or text message to engage this referral group.
Employees. A common misconception among start-ups is that referrals should come from this group. Although the quality of your leads may depend on how good your salespeople are, those who have stayed longer in the company and have more familiarity with your legal work can potentially generate better leads.
All employees, including Associate Attorneys, Human Resources, Customer Services, Sales, Finance, Marketing team, and Office Staff have the best knowledge about your company. Their knowledge, combined with their love for the work, helps them relate better with your lead sources even if they don’t work under your marketing and sales teams.
Influencers. Those sources that don’t readily pop into your mind will usually fall under a group called Centers of Influence or COIs. This type of referral source consists of people or companies who are already familiar with your law firm’s work, but is not a competitor and has access to your ideal clients. For attorneys, a good example is a credit rebuilding company whom bankruptcy filers usually go to. By creating a relationship with this COI, you can have new leads, which means more clients. If you’re a bankruptcy firm advocating for a partnership and offering credit repair programs, you’re set to have happy customers.
Use Proven Strategies to Get More Referrals
Now that you have a shortlist of people who can give you a positive recommendation or review that could help you get more referrals, you need to employ certain strategies to take advantage of your contact list. Below are some referral techniques you can use:
Make Your Brand Referral-Worthy. When someone refers to your law office, they are putting their own reputation on the line. Ask yourself, do your referral sources see your branding as credible and trustworthy? Getting a “YES” answer to this question will involve having a remarkable service and consistent positive results among your customers.
Create an Easy Referral Process. Often, happy clients want to refer you but don’t know how your process for referring someone works. Tell them about your referral marketing program and reward programs, or call them to ask if they know anyone who matches your ideal client profile. But you need to find the perfect timing to ask for a referral. Usually, it’s after you receive praise. When you do, thank them for the compliment and then mention your goal to help out similar clients.
Create a Shortlist From Your Contacts. Not all sources of referrals provide the same quality of lead generation. So when you create a master list of potential lead sources, make sure to create a strategic list with the highest potential for becoming your referral partners. Then, experiment with various ways to generate more leads such as through marketing emails, video chat, telemarketing, and other sales tools. You can seek advice from law firm experts to learn how to create your client cycle.
Reward Referrers. When people make referrals and spread the word about your firm, you gain extra sets of hands. These hands bridge the gap between you and your target market. Make sure each referrer feels valued for the time and effort they invested when they refer friends and new customers. As simple as a gift card or other incentives can go a long way.
Asking for referrals from big players. If you want to get quality referrals from influences in your industry, then you will first have to send them several referrals. For example, if your referrals convert to paying customers and help the business grow, you will get noticed more quickly.
Be a Referral Magnet
The end goal for you is to have an unending cycle of referrals: your clients recommend you to their contacts, those contacts share your business to strangers, and further down the line, those people bring in quality leads at your doorstep at a regular interval. Reaching a continuous cycle of customer referrals involves all referral groups mentioned above.
Consider each of your referral sources as your partners in your law firm business. Treat them respectfully and clearly communicate what you have to offer. Here are some more ways to maintain the your referral cycle and increase your conversion rate:
- Connect with more people either in-person, by phone or email, or through various social media platforms
- Engage in personal conversation to know them more and make them trust you (lead nurturing)
- Keep in touch with the people in your contacts by making them feel special through simple acts like sending invites to a webinar or products you have, or sending greetings (this helps improve lead generation)
- Reach out to them for help in making a review, video testimonials, or advice on how to improve your private practice
- Show your appreciation to them by thanking them
- Ask them what you want and follow up on your sources
Most lawyers often avoid asking directly and end up with scripts that leave the client with no call to action. You need to determine at what point you’ll ask people to refer work to you. If you don't ask, you're lowering your chances of getting referrals.
Again, getting more leads is not as simple as hiring several salespeople and leaving the search for qualified leads all up to them. A good marketing strategy involves a thorough research on your law firm’s referral sources and taking steps to maintain the cycle of referral actions.
If you have multiple referral sources and need help in identifying leads to focus on, you can watch our short video on best practices to determine which lead sources are working. If you want to arm your small law firm with more tools necessary to run your business smoothly, reach out to Richard James and get your FREE business Personalized Practice Growth Plan. Call us today.