One of the biggest challenges I find clients have when trying to get more referrals is that their referrers (the people they've asked to introduce them to someone) struggle to make the introduction sound attractive to the potential client.
For example, let's say you're an employment lawyer and you've asked an accountant to introduce you to small manufacturing businesses in your area. Or perhaps you've been smart and used Linkedin to name some specific people and organisations you know he knows.
How is he going to make that introduction sound attractive to the potential client? Chances are they don't have a specific need for your services at this point in time. And even if they did, the accountant might not know that. So although a recommendation and offer of an introduction from a trusted partner like an accountant is more likely to succeeed than a cold call – it still might not seem attractive.
And it may also be embarrassing or uncomfortable to the accountant too. It may feel a little too much like he's simply selling for you with no real benefit for his client.
Now of course, you're going to try to inspire your referral partner by demonstrating what a great resource to his clients you're going to be. And of course, you're going to be “courting” that referral partner to keep yourself top of mind for when the time comes to give recommendations.
But still, 1-on-1 with his client he's going to have to pop the question. So maybe he'll wait until the client's in a good mood. Or maybe until a related topic comes up. Or maybe….
But what if the accountant had something to offer the client on your behalf? Something that was valuable to them without relying on them having an immediate need.
It could be a report you've prepared on the key facts manufacturers need to know about employment law. Perhaps an invitation to a monthly seminar and Q&A session your firm runs on new legislation which impacts small firms. Perhaps some kind of related checklist or spreadsheet tool.
Then there's no embarrassment or difficulty.
The accountant will feel they're adding direct and immediate value to their client. They're not just suggesting a meeting with you which might lead to value for the client. They're giving it straight away.
And the client will feel much more disposed to meet with you and much more confident that you're going to be a useful resource.
The whole situation has changed from the referral partner doing you a favour – to them doing themselves and their client a favour.
So not only will the accountant be recommending you when the time is right and when the client's in a good mood. Since your offer adds value to his clients, he'll be recommending you whenever he can to get “brownie points” with them. He'll be actively looking for opportunities to make recommendations and raise the status of his relationship.
So what resources do you have that your referral partners can offer?
If you don't have any, start working on them now.
PS For more details on this strategy, check out Steve Gordon's excellent book Unstoppable Referrals.