A steady flow of law firm leads and referrals can grow your firm, ease your worries about getting new clients, strengthen relationships with existing clients, and help you build a trust-worthy reputation. And many attorneys are turning to client referral techniques to do just that.
According to a 2015 Nielsen report, the most trustworthy advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. More than 83% of people surveyed say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family, making referrals an essential part of your marketing strategy.
Pursuing clients who are easiest to win over or offering free consultations are just two strategies you can use, but unless you’re able to convert referrals into paying clients and get them to sign contracts, all your efforts will be wasted.
Your clients are your biggest advocates. If you’re not getting referrals from them, then you’re missing a huge opportunity.
Why referrals convert so well
Building on your client network can have a ripple effect that leads to getting more first time clients. Referred clients cost little to nothing to acquire and are potentially more loyal and easier to retain, which doubles their lifetime value. Furthermore, the process of getting new law firm client referrals is easier because your current clients have done the work for you.
That word-of-mouth extends to online reviews as well. The same Nielsen survey also found that trust goes beyond people’s personal networks. Online consumer opinions are the third most-trusted format. In fact, two-thirds of people surveyed say they trust opinions read online, making getting more referrals even easier.
Ultimately, learning to leverage your past clients smartly will not only grow your firm, but will also strengthen relationships you have with existing clients. If you provide your clients with unparalleled service, then they will be more inclined to share the names of trusted friends, family and colleagues. In turn, the value that you create and demonstrate will make them want to refer you.
Filling the top of your funnel
There are several ways you can convert potential referral sources into new clients. Before you ask your clients, you must build value and trust first, and use that as a foundation for closing law firm leads. But after you’ve accomplished this, how do you ask for a favor in the most professional way possible?
An easy way to start is to use a client referral template. A template is convenient for busy clients who might not have the time to write a referral themselves. Plus, a well-worded template removes the awkwardness of starting from scratch that some clients might feel.
Another good strategy is to increase referrals indirectly. If you find that your clients are uncomfortable with referring you, or simply don’t have the time, then get creative. Ask clients to review your firm on Google or Facebook, if they would like to serve as a case study in your marketing materials, or give a testimonial on your website.
The process of closing leads is a two-way street, so don’t forget to ask for feedback on your performance. You should send regular emails with questions regarding anything from your services to your client support. And make sure you time your survey correctly by sending it toward the end of your relationship.
Although obvious, it’s also vital that you stay connected with clients. If you asked for a referral and your client said no, or if you just haven’t made the ask yet, stay in close contact with them. From connecting to them on LinkedIn to dropping the occasional email, staying in touch shows your clients that you truly value their relationship. You can also offer gift cards or a discount on your services for referrals.
And finally, be patient. Referrals can be an extremely effective way to grow a business, but don’t expect immediate results. Getting law firm leads and building a strong referral network is a slow growth process.
These are just a few strategies that can set you up for success. By setting expectations, successfully onboarding your clients, creating trust, and staying in touch with your clients regularly, you can not only expand your network, but build a name for your firm.