Think for second, about how you currently generate referrals. Do you have a strategy in place? Do you have a unique process that works for you consistently?
Most lawyers bluntly ask their clients and referral partners for new prospects. And it’s usually sales-y and uncomfortable, resulting in attorneys admitting defeat and ignoring referrals altogether.
This is a mistake. By not seeking out referrals, you’re missing out on a major source of new clients.
The referral strategy that I use doesn’t require you to flip into sales-mode. In fact, it allows you to remain an advocate for your clients by providing real value to them and those they refer.
I’ll explain by showing exactly how I used strategy to build my practice.
Positioning Against Generalists
The basis of the referral strategy is positioning - how your clients and prospects perceive you and your practice.
My practice fell under the broad category of corporate representations (if you represent consumers, read on, this will work for you too). At the time, there were a lot of firms that positioned themselves as generalists in this area. These generalists would claim to specialize in everything from incorporations and financing to real estate, intellectual property, etc.
As you know, each of those is a separate practice area in itself. But, the generalists insisted they were the one-stop-shop experts.
Every lawyer who specialized in one of these areas knew that a single attorney couldn’t possibly be an expert in every field. The problem was that the clients didn’t know this.
To position myself against generalists and boost my referrals, I had to get something into my clients’ and prospects’ hands to show them that my firm was different.
The Pass-Along Chart
Here in Silicon Valley, the legal side of open source software (a kind of software where, if you use it, it can impact your IP rights) can be confusing for companies. So my firm created an easy-to-read chart that simplified it for clients and prospects. At the same time, we used it as a tool to position ourselves.
Along each row of the chart, we listed different kinds of licenses that companies might see. And that might impact their rights.
Along each column, we listed common situations these companies may encounter. At each intersection, the chart marked if, when, and how much you need to care. And if the situation was high-risk or not.
By simplifying something that was previously complex and mysterious, we gave them value and created a lot of goodwill - mainly because we told people when they didn’t need to call me.
This proved to be extremely valuable to clients. we were equipping them with a tool they could use to self-service. They wouldn’t need to call and waste time figuring out if they needed professional services or not. They could see it for themselves using the handy cheat sheet.
Was it a substitute for legal advice? Absolutely not. But it was a tool to get the ones who really needed help pointed in the right direction, and alleviate fears of every prospect.
This cheat-sheet also created pass-along value. When my clients heard that their friends in other companies needed help with these same problems, they would give them the chart. If the chart told them they needed professional legal help, who do you think they called? A generalist firm, or the expert that made the chart with their phone number at the bottom?