Myths Attorneys Believe About Referrals

Stephen Fairley
Stephen Fairley
Another great guest post from Stephen Fairley at The Rainmaker Institute.

MYTH #1: CLIENTS MAKE THE BEST REFERRAL SOURCES

Clients are generally not the best source of referrals to your law firm. This surprises a lot of legal professionals when I tell them this is a myth. Clients are merely the most obvious source of referrals, not the best source.

There are simply too many variables you cannot control when trying to get more referrals from clients:

  • Do they know all the different services you offer?
  • Will they remember you when they meet someone who needs your legal services?
  • Can they accurately tell others what makes you different from your competitors?
  • Did they hire you to resolve a legal issue that could be potentially embarrassing to them?
  • Was their entire experience with your law firm positive or were there some "issues"?

The truth of the matter is that clients are not dependable. That being said, you shouldn't intentionally ignore potential client referrals. Every law firm should have a long-term client education plan that positions your law firm, explains your current services, and keeps your current clients informed as to what's going on in your firm.

One of the most cost effective ways to do this is with a monthly newsletter. Our clients consistently tell us sending out an electronic newsletter every month is one of the best ways to keep their firm in front of their potential referral sources.

 

MYTH #2: MOST REFERRALS COME FROM OTHER ATTORNEYS

This is another commonly held myth among attorneys. According to industry research, only about 25% of an established attorney's practice is referred from other legal professionals, so logically about 75% of clients come from other sources (this may vary greatly by practice area).

A good tip is to set up an easy tracking system as part of your client intake file and then review on a quarterly basis where your leads are coming from.

 

There are three keys to increasing referrals from other attorneys:

 

 

1. Do not try to be a generalist. The fastest way to lose referrals from other attorneys is by practicing several different kinds of law. In fact, every practice area you add over your primary one will cost you many referrals over time.

For example, if most of your practice is transactional business law and occasionally you take a litigation matter for an existing client, but you tell other attorneys you also do litigation, every litigation attorney now sees you as a competitor not a referral source.

2. Actively build relationships with at least 5 or 6 new referral sources each year (I know, easier said than done), but the best way to have your practice "crash and burn" is to totally 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.

 

3. Keep in touch with them 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.

Other legal professionals are not the only people who make great referral sources. Non-legal professionals who target a similar clientele are often your best sources of referrals. Use LinkedIn to find these people, make the connection online and then send them an email or call them for an invitation to lunch or coffee.

MYTH #3: NETWORKING GROUPS MAKE GREAT REFERRAL SOURCES

Over the last 12 years of helping legal professionals grow their referral base, we have found that formal networking events (like trade shows and chambers of commerce, etc) work exceptionally well for a very small group of attorneys-and not at all for the majority of attorneys. There are a few reasons why:

 

1. They attend the wrong kind of group-one filled with their peers, not their prospects. I recommend joining your local bar association, but not for the purpose of gaining new business. You are much better off targeting an industry trade group filled with your perfect clients or best referral sources, not your competitors.

2. Most attorneys don't know how to network properly and so it becomes a game to see how many business cards they can pass out in 2 hours. Networking is more about quality than quantity. The purpose of attending a networking event is to connect with someone whom you can later invite to meet with you one-on-one.

3. Attorneys do not create a plan for following up in a timely manner. You have about 48 hours after an event to follow up with a "hot lead" or they will likely forget about you. Get in touch with them right away and ask if they want to meet for lunch. Prove that you listened to what they were talking about by telling them you would like to continue your conversation about their practice. Actively listening to what their practice goals are and then introducing them to people who may need their help or may be a good contact for them will help you create a solid base of referral partners.

 

ACCIDENTAL REFERRALS

Building a referral-based law firm does not happen by accident. If you want to take your legal marketing to the next level, you need a systematic approach to developing more and better relationships with a wide variety of referral sources.

A key component of your referral plan is to create systems for staying connecting with prospects, clients and referral partners on a regular, consistent basis. Part of this system should include:

  • Monthly newsletters - keep them apprised of what your firm is doing, new employees, new practice areas, and content that is beneficial to them.

  • Annual Client Satisfaction Survey - find out what your clients think about the services they have received from your firm and how you can improve.

  • Keep In Touch letters - on a regular basis, every 2-3 months, send a letter to referrals, prospects and clients just to touch base. This top of mind awareness is crucial for generating referrals.

  • Referral Education System - your referral sources need to know what kind of prospects you are looking for. It does no good for them to refer prospects to you who are not looking for what your firm offers. Keep your referral sources updated on your practice areas and any changes in your firm if you want to receive high-quality referrals.

The Results are in: Majority of Consumers Use Social Media When Searching for Attorneys

The Rainmaker Institute recently commissioned a survey by The Research Intelligence Group to find out how consumers use social media in their search for an attorney. Read about the details of the survey at Survey Says Majority of Consumers Use Social Media When Looking for Lawyers.

 

 

Have You Ever Considered Attending a Rainmaker Retereat?

As a business owner, attending a rainmaker retreat may be a worthwhile investment of your time and money.

 
According to The Rainmaker Blog, here is how you can gauge for yourself:
 
Over 65 different marketing techniques that are proven to work in the real world environment of a fast moving law firm. Only practical techniques are discussed here.
 
The 5 critical numbers you need to be tracking in your law firm and how to measure your Return On Investment (ROI) for all your marketing efforts.
 
The core concepts of search engine optimization (SEO) and Internet marketing for attorneys and how to create a dominant position on the Internet.
 
Specific tools to automate your marketing system and “fix your follow up” to increase your conversion rates from prospects to paying clients.
 
How to fully leverage social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Avvo and JDSupra to drive new leads to your law firm.
 
How to focus your money on the most effective marketing strategies based on your specific practice area.
 
How to better select, train and motivate your partners and staff to do Rainmaking activities.
 
How to reduce your costs by eliminating ineffective marketing strategies.
 
How to utilize the 7 Rainmaker tools for generating more referrals and repeat business from current and former clients.
 
Over 30 low cost (starting at $20/mo.) and no cost marketing strategies to help you stretch your budget.
 
Software tools that will help you automate your marketing system.
 
Easy to use system for tracking all your incoming leads.
 
Specific tools to help you and your staff convert more prospects into paying clients.
 
Learn how other solo attorneys have leveraged Internet marketing and social media networks to beat much bigger firms.
 
These are the upcoming Rainmaker Retreats currently scheduled:
 
May 3-4, 2013 – Scottsdale, AZ
 
May 31-June 1, 2013 – New York City
 
July 19-20, 2013 – San Diego, CA
 
August 16-17, 2013 – Las Vegas, NV
 
September 20-21, 2013 – San Francisco, CA
 
To learn more about the Rainmaker Retreat and to register online, go to www.rainmakerretreat.com or call 888-588-5891.

LegalTechNY Discussion: Barriers to Social Media Adoption

At LegalTechNY, Steve Mann, chief marketing officer of the Research & Litigation Solutions business at LexisNexis, posed this question to Stephen Fairley, chief executive officer of The Rainmaker Institute and myself: If we have passed the tipping point for firms to use social media, why are so many firms reluctant to dive in?

 

 

Shhh! The #1 Secret to Boosting Client Referrals

Stephen Fairley shares with us the #1 secret to boosting client referrals and retention in this blog post that can found on the Rainmaker Blog.

When it comes to communicating with clients, listening is often more important than talking. It is by listening that you learn what clients want, and then you can give it to them. Which makes for more referrals and better client retention.

Here are some important methods you can use to actively listen to clients:
 
Open feedback. Always offer clients a way to provide feedback, through your website, an online survey and in your e-newsletter campaign. Simply asking for their thoughts is often enough to garner some important insights.
 
Transactional feedback. If you’re a regular Starbucks customer, you have undoubtedly received a free survey at some point with your receipt. You provide them with some feedback online and you get a free drink for your efforts. What attorneys can learn from this is the importance of asking clients for their thoughts about their experience with your firm after the case is over or at important points along the way. Keep your finger on the pulse of how satisfied they are with how your firm is treating them, and you’ll have a satisfied client.
 
Social media interaction. Monitor your social media channels to see what people are saying about you. You can search for your firm name on Twitter and Facebook , and you should be regularly monitoring Avvo, FindLaw, Yelp and Google for other comments about your firm.
 
Client satisfaction surveys. Using formal client satisfaction surveys is another good way to gauge client experiences with your firm. Send one out after each engagement is closed and respond immediately and personally to any negative feedback.

8 Ways to Use Your Law Firm Website to Turn Browsers Into Buyers

Once again, The Rainmaker Blog publishes a compelling post. Many times you will have window shoppers on your website, read below for 8 ways to turn those browsers into buyers.

1. Position your firm as a specialist. When people search for attorneys online they have a specific problem (DUI, personal injury, etc) and they are searching for specific answers. If your firm has more than one practice area, the best practice is to have more than one website, especially if they have a very different clientele.

2. Offer free, educational information. Only a small percentage of website visitors are ready to commit to a consultation the first time they visit your website. Providing visitors with educational materials to help them make the best decision is a tried and true technique in Internet marketing. If you are an estate planning attorney, give them a free report on the "Top 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Estate Planning Attorney."

3. Use fitting photos. Almost every legal website makes the mistake of using the same photo of the scales of justice or the courthouse steps. Be sure the pictures on your website are congruent with your message and your perfect client.

4. Give visitors easy ways to connect with you. I'm still astounded at how difficult many websites make it just to find their phone number or an email address that goes directly to an individual versus a "faceless entity." Make it easy for prospects to find all your contact information, even on their cell phone.

5. Create a mobile friendly site. Last year smart phones outsold computers! With slower speeds, smaller screens, the need for more immediate information, and the potential desire to easily call your office directly from their cell, a mobile version of your website is no longer a nicety, it is a necessity!

6. Tell visitors what the next steps are. If you want them to download your free report or call your office for a free consultation, tell them!

7. Use video clips on your website. Video is a proven converter. It gives visitors a way to see you as a real person, to hear in your own words how you can help them, and how you are distinct in your approach.

8. Provide a clear and compelling reason why you are different from your competitors. Online buyers of legal services visit an average of 5 websites prior to moving into the decision making phase. Explain to them in an easy to understand manner how your firm is different from others.

 

How to Realize Your Dream of a More Profitable Law Practice in 2013

On Monday, Stephen Fairley of the Rainmaker Blog, wrote about his next webinar that is to be held tomorrow, January 24th at 1 p.m. ET.  Read on to learn how you can register for this webinar that will provide ways to bring your dream law practice into reality.

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Today we’re celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I know that many of you have a dream, too...a dream of building a law firm that allows you to live the life you’ve always wanted to live while doing satisfying work that you enjoy.

The question plaguing most of you is, how?

Start by signing up for my webinar this Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT: The 5 Best Strategies to Beat Your Competition in 2013.

Knowing which legal marketing strategies are working in today’s economy gives you a huge advantage. Implementing the correct business development strategies allows you to spend less money and get better results faster!

Join me on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT for a one-hour webinar where you will discover:

  • Why you can’t afford to dismiss social media any longer (Google is forcing you to use it)
  • 3 major ways to triple your website traffic in the next 90 days
  • How to use online tools to generate more offline referrals
  • 3 keys all the best law firms are using to turn more website browsers into buyers
  • 2 critical numbers you must track every month to measure your success
  • Specific ways to jump-start your marketing efforts fast…even if you’ve stumbled before
  • Last year many of our clients experienced their best year ever! How is that possible when we are in the midst of the biggest recession our generation has ever faced?

It’s simple, they developed a game plan based on best practices and proven strategies and then they consistently took massive action! Notice I said it was “simple” not “easy.” There is no “easy” way to build a million dollar book of business, but if you’re willing to do the work we can show you the right path to take.

Click on this link  to register now for The 5 Best Strategies to Beat Your Competition in 2013 webinar on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

All registrants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch at their convenience, so if the scheduled time doesn’t work for you, you can still get this critical knowledge by getting your own copy of the webinar recording.

 

Dec. 13 Webinar: How to Leverage Your Firm's Website to Win Clients

According to recent research…

 
58 million adults looked for an attorney in the past year
 
76% of them referred to the Internet at some point in their search
 
While most law firms already have a website, the majority of them don’t produce new cases on a regular basis. Why?
 
Because they are doing it all wrong!
 
This live webinar – scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET -- will teach you how to do it right.
 
Having a website is no longer enough to generate new clients. You also need to harness the power of key online strategies including social media, directories and blogs.
 
What you really need is a website that converts prospects into paying clients, convinces skeptics to call you first, and turns browsers into buyers!
 
In this fast-paced webinar, I will join Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, and we will teach you:
 
  • 3 specific strategies that can immediately improve your website conversions
  • What elements you should and should not include on your website
  • How to effectively reach the 65% of consumers who like to gather information about their legal issue long before ever contacting an attorney
  • Ways to leverage top online attorney directories to control your online presence
  • Case studies on how top attorneys are using social media to attract more paying clients
  • Best practices for blogging and why Google loves them so much
  • The fastest ways to get to the top of Google
If you already have a website, but you’re frustrated because you are not consistently getting new cases from it, then you owe it to yourself to listen in on this webinar.
 
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there.
 
If you’re tired of listening to hype and want to learn from nationally recognized experts who have been in the trenches, then we invite you to join us.
 
Time doesn’t work for you? All registrants will receive a recording of this webinar to watch at their convenience. 
 
Click on this link to register now for the How to Leverage Your Firm’s Website to Win Clients webinar on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.