Referrals to your law firm might come from a colleague, a past client, or just word of mouth in your community. But, unless you have a strategy to generate great referrals, a bunch of the perfect clients and cases you COULD be getting are probably just slipping away.
Think about it—referrals are awesome because they come to you already more likely to hire you. They’ve probably already heard great things about you. They’ve probably heard those great things from someone they already trust. That means referrals are far more likely to convert because half of the “work” is already done for you—before you even meet or talk on the phone.
And the best part is that your best referral sources will send you clients that are likely to already be a good fit for your law firm!
So, don’t overlook one of the best and easiest sources of leads you can get. Instead, keep reading to get on top of our 5 best tips for building a stronger law firm referral strategy.
1. Be a Great Lawyer
The absolute best way to get referrals is to simply be an excellent law firm. If you do a good job for your clients, they’ll tell people about it. If the customer service experience is excellent, from your law firm’s intake process to the outtake interview, word will get around. People will tell their friends and family about you. They’ll have no hesitation recommending you to others.
And other lawyers will take notice, too. After all, if you’re going to refer a client to someone else, you want to know they’ll be in good hands!
So, look for any gaps in your internal processes, and ask for feedback from your past clients. Use secret shoppers to verify that your customer service is working the way it should. Think about where you can improve and how you can communicate better. You really have to dig deep, fix problems, and figure out how you can make a good impression that lasts.
Ultimately, getting that client experience just right will always create a positive buzz that benefits you and attracts more people to you. You can’t go wrong by bettering yourself!
2. Ask the People You Already Know
You also have to ditch any fear you have about asking people to refer to you. It’s the simplest way to get referrals, and you probably already have a list of potential referral sources right at your fingertips!
Most lawyers maintain some kind of contact list that includes new and old clients, partner businesses, colleagues, and other important contacts. So, use that list to reach out to the people you already know and that already like you. Create an email campaign that asks your contacts to refer a friend. Mention it in your newsletter. Send out a postcard. Add the ask to the signature line of all your emails. Make it part of your exit interview with clients.
You don’t have to beat people over the head with it all the time—but you DO have to find little ways to ask for what you want.
By the way, customer relationship management (CRM) software makes it so much easier to build, maintain, and actually USE your contact list. The CRM in DSS, for example, lets you collect, tag, and organize your contacts all in one place. You can also create, schedule, and send professional-looking emails right in DSS, and you can save custom templates to reuse again in the future.
So, if you want to send a referral letter only to past clients or only to other attorneys, it’s a much simpler task. No more digging through a million spreadsheets or fighting with external software! Just choose your contacts, build your referral email, and send it. Simple.
3. Build a Bigger Referral Network
Don’t stop at just the people you already know, though. The law firms that are most successful at attracting referrals are constantly networking and finding new partnerships. And, if you really look, you’ll find that there are opportunities everywhere!
Conferences, workshops, and fundraising events are all great chances to meet new people and build referral partnerships. Local discussion panels and meet-ups can also be great opportunities. Connect with your chamber of commerce and other local business owners. Those face-to-face interactions are priceless, and it gives YOU a chance to build relationships with the other attorneys and businesses you like working with.
Of course, you don’t have to get up close and personal to turn a stranger into a great referral source. You can reach out on social media sites like LinkedIn, or you can leverage more lawyer-specific networks. And, just like above, you can really leverage email outreach to build a bigger referral network.
Don’t just use these avenues to ask for referrals, though. Educate your potential referral sources, too! Let them know what you do and what kinds of cases and clients you take. Show them the results you’ve gotten for clients in the past. Include testimonials that let your past clients explain in their words why you’re a great choice. This is your chance to really let people see what your brand is all about!
And, of course, don’t forget to track the referrals you get! With a great law firm CRM, you can not only maintain and organize your contacts but track where they’re coming from. This is critical if you want to understand and maintain the referral partnerships you’ve built!
4. Make it Easy for People to Refer to You
People can know that you’re open to referrals and still not send anyone your way. Why? It could be because they aren’t really sure how to make it happen. So, don’t leave them wondering!
Add a dedicated “referral page” to your law firm’s website that explains the referral process and makes it easy to make the connection—link to it right from your homepage and main navigation bar. The fewer hoops your referral sources have to jump through, the more likely they are to actually make that referral and keep sending more.
Not sure what a referral page should look like? Check out this great example from The Mottley Law Firm:
This is something several of our clients have had great success with, so we know from experience that it really works!
5. Show Gratitude to Your Referral Sources
Lastly, the best way to keep more referrals coming in is to take care of the people who have sent you referrals in the past. Drop them a handwritten thank-you note or a small gift. Let them know you appreciate that they thought of you. Tell them what a great client they sent over to you. It’s so simple just to say thanks!
And don’t drop out of sight after you’ve sent out a big referral push or laid the groundwork for a partnership. An email, letter, or call every once in a while will keep you on their minds and foster an even stronger partnership over time. Or make it a two-way street, and send great referrals their way, too.
There are lots of ways to make sure that your best referral partnerships last—you just have to make it a priority. So, nurture those referral sources and keep showing your gratitude for the part they play in building your business.
Need a Hand? We Can Help You Build a Referral Strategy That Rocks
For some of you, the tips above might seem like common sense. But you’d probably be surprised at just how many law firms don’t think to ask for referrals or nurture their referral partnerships—even when the handful of referrals they DO get turn into some of their best cases!
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