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Lawyers: How To Avoid Awkwardly Asking For Referrals

The time has come to change the way you get referrals. The traditional method of generating referrals is rooted in the hard-sell tactic: Asking every client if they can send you new prospects.

What you’re really asking is, “Since I’ve done a good job for you, is there anyone else you know that I can help.”

The problem isn’t effectiveness. The traditional method can work, but it’s awkward and unnatural. It feels too sales-y for most lawyers (myself included), so they don’t want to do it. We all know that when you don’t want to do something - regardless of how much you need to do it - it gets done last. Or more often, it doesn’t get done at all.



Us vs. Them

This traditional method is based on clients giving something to you. BUT What if you flipped this and positioned yourself as ‘not just another lawyer asking for work’?

What if your referral strategy was based on giving something to your clients?

You could then say, “I want to make sure people know when they need attorneys and when they don’t. I’ve made this brochure that breaks it down. Can you pass this along to people so they know when they don’t need a lawyer?” You’re still asking them to take action, but not in the traditional way.

This isn’t hard-selling or gimmick marketing. It’s anti-selling and anti-marketing.

This gives you unique positioning. You’re no longer positioned as ‘just another attorney’, you’re positioned as an advocate for your clients and the market as a whole.

Walk The Fine Line

For this new referral strategy, you must create a short, written marketing piece. The goal, once again, is to position yourself as an advocate - as an attorney that only wants people to call lawyers when it’s necessary. You can also express outrage at the fact that some lawyers want people to call them when it isn't necessary.

Remember to be careful. This requires you to walk a fine line. There are situations when absolutely everyone should hire a lawyer.

You’re not telling people to never go to lawyers - you’re telling them when it’s unnecessary. When you equip prospects with this marketing piece, they will:  

  1. have what they need to perform basic analysis and gather facts to decide their own need for legal counsel
  2. see you as the one helping them out - their advocate - before they’ve even met with you.

When you walk this line and position yourself correctly, you’ll get higher quality clients. They’ll be more educated about when to think about you, need you, and hire you. This is in high contrast to the prospect that comes to you in a haze - not know what’s important versus what’s not important.

Also, this strategy will help your referral partners. They’ll know when to send you the right business. After reading your marketing piece, they’ll be able to see which kind of client you’re looking for and which clients are not a good fit.

Raj Jha