Independent Thinking: Developing Strategic Referral Partners

June 26, 2012

Small Law: Independent ThinkingMost law firms find clients in a variety of ways, such as Yelp, Google, advertising, other clients, family, friends, and what I like to call “strategic referral partners.”  That is, those individuals who have triggering conversations with your potential clients where your services naturally come up in conversation.

However, the quality of leads varies drastically depending on the source.  For example, only 1 in 7 leads who find our firm through Yelp or Google eventually become clients whereas the number jumps up to 1 in 2 if they are referred by clients, family, friends, or strategic referral partners.  Why is there such an enormous discrepancy?

As attorneys, we provide a relationship of trust.  This relationship of trust is much more difficult to convey when a potential client finds you through Google or Yelp than if a potential client is referred to you from someone they already trust as that trust is often transferred from that person to you.

So how do you generate more quality leads from trusted sources?

  • Step 1: Identify Your Strategic Referral Partners

Start by asking other attorneys in your practice area where they get their best leads from and then seek to develop relationships with similar professionals.

For example, we focus on helping small business owners and startups and about 1/3 of our firm’s clients come from CPAs as they are having triggering conversations with our potential clients about setting up a new legal entity, buying or selling a business or dissolving a business. What strategic referral partners are having triggering conversations with your potential clients?

  • Step 2: Strengthen Your Relationships With Your Strategic Referral Partners

After you have identified your strategic referral partners, invest time into strengthening those relationships by having lunch, coffee or even a quick phone call and learning how you can add value to their business.  This will be a much, much higher return on your time (what I like to call “ROT”) than going to networking events in the hopes of coming across a potential client.

  • Step 3: Find Ways To Add Value To Your Strategic Referral Partners

Like most relationships, your relationship with your strategic referral partners needs to be a two way street.  Ask them “How can I help you?” But go one step further and proactively think about ways to add value.  The more value you add to your strategic referral partners the more benefit you will receive in return.

If you are looking to grow your practice by not only increasing the quantity, but also the quality of leads who will trust you the moment they walk in the door, there is no better way to spend your time than by identifying your strategic referral partners and strengthening your relationships with them by finding ways to add value to their practice. If you follow these three steps, you will be surprised by the enormous dividends this investment of your time will pay to your practice.


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