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Referral marketing succeeds with the right interview

August 15, 2018

Filed under: Marketing,Practice Growth,Referral Sources,Uncategorized — admin @ 5:24 pm

STRATEGIC INTERVIEWReferral marketing is the lifeblood of any successful practice, but it can be intimidating when you’re trying to cultivate referral sources. Maybe you’re not naturally outgoing, or maybe you are self-conscious when you ask someone to refer clients to your practice.

Even if you don’t have any jitters to overcome about asking for a referral, you can still benefit from employing The Strategic Interview™ approach developed by Atticus when you connect with your referral sources.

Why are referral marketing sources so important? Referred clients typically bring a higher value per case with less acquisition costs. There is less “sales” involved in hiring you because the prospect has basically been pre-sold on why they should be hiring you. Referrals also feel good – if you’re known to others as the best, that’s a great reputation that can give you confidence.

Having great referral sources is like having an endless annuity for your practice. It makes it difficult to unseat you as the dominate player in your market. And, you get three great rebuttable presumptions – because the client was referred to you they naturally assume you’re honest, you’re fair and you’re competent.

Succeeding with the Strategic Interview™ in your referral marketing process is a skill, not an innate talent, which means it can be learned.

To begin using this strategy, you’ll want to know who to talk to, what to say, and how to say it.

The “who” consists of the people who make up your top 20 referral sources. These are typically existing clients, the other professionals they use (i.e. accountants, insurance agents, other attorneys), any attorneys you refer work to, members of any boards you serve on, your family, and your friends.

The “what” is the respectful request you’re making for this person to refer you new clients. The request can be preceded by an effective and compelling story that helps you sell your services (i.e. how you helped another referral source, how you helped a client, how you resolved a specific issue).

The “how” is the delivery of the request and when you should make it. Will the request come over the phone, in person, at a networking event, or in a meeting at your office? When during the conversation is the best time for you to make the request for a referral? It really depends, and each situation is likely going to be different.

Employing this strategy requires some detailed thinking on your part about defining your best possible referral sources, the context and content of the conversation you want to have with them, and how to deliver your message in the most effective way so that you’re fully heard and understood.

Don’t just wing it.

Write two or three scripts and practice them in front of your spouse or someone at your firm. They’ll more easily see where you need to improve your message and delivery than you would by practicing in front of a mirror. After a while, as you become more comfortable talking about your practice and the kinds of clients you want to serve, you will be able to talk extemporaneously and go off the script when it feels right.

Before you phone a referral marketing source and say, “Please, refer work to me,” you need to be able explain why you’re requesting to meet.

You could simply say, “I’d like your opinion on …” and bring up an issue that may be affecting their clients that your practice specializes in resolving.

Or, you could say you enjoyed working with them on a previous client’s case and were wondering if they had a similar case the two of you could work together on again.

A slightly more daring approach is to admit you’re a little bored: “I like to keep busy. I’ve got some gaps in my calendar coming up and was wondering if you’ve come across any new cases or clients you’d like to refer out?”

When you meet with your referral source, ask questions about her business — and ask follow-up questions to show you’re engaged in the conversations. Be sincere. You’ll likely make a personal connection, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll create more opportunities for yourself.

A good strategy, especially when dealing with non-lawyer referral sources is to ask what frustrations they’ve had when they’ve dealt with lawyers in the past. Write down what they say because those frustrations are marketing gold. The more you can understand their frustrations, the more likely you can design a solution for them.

After the meeting, enter detailed information about what was said and what each person committed to into your contact management software. Schedule a follow-up meeting, especially if there is a big potential for work from “A” level clients referred to you by this source.

If you can help your referral source by sending her a referral, introduction or connection, do it. For some it won’t matter, but for others it can make all the difference.

And always — always — find a unique and genuine way to acknowledge and thank your referral sources whenever you are handed a prospective client by them. If you’re stumped on how to be unique in expressing your gratitude, know that nothing is easier to do or more effective to communicate your appreciation than a handwritten thank you note.

Lawyers: Take more time off

July 7, 2018

Filed under: Enjoying Life,Lawyer Coaching,Practice Growth,Practice Management,Staffing Issues,Stress Management — admin @ 5:04 pm

In the whole of recorded history of lawyers, there has not been one attorney, who, on his deathbed, thought, “Boy, I wish I had been able to spend just one more day writing briefs.”

What do you want to be able to say in your later years, that you worked yourself to death in the office or that you enjoyed time with your loved ones, creating lasting memories during the vacations you took? If it’s the former, that’s just kind of sad because the latter is where we live and love and actually enjoy our lives.

Lawyers Need to Take More Time Off

Taking more time off will increase your productivity and create a stronger support team.

Vacations — time off — should be for leaving the office behind and relaxing, not taking the office with you.

Here’s a scenario: You decide to take your family to Hawaii for vacation. You’ve got a great room with a beach view and a loose itinerary that allows for plenty of spontaneity. Sounds great, right? However, if you check your office email and return phone calls every morning, then you’re not on vacation. You’re just working remotely from a much prettier location. All the stress you left behind at the office has followed you to Hawaii, stealing time from you and your family.

If you’re really, actually, positively going on vacation, then go on vacation.

Even Lawyers Need a Break

Your brain needs time to rest, to heal from the day-to-day grind of running your practice. My experience — personally and working with attorneys who take great time off — is that your creativity goes through the roof when you return to work. Client problems don’t seem so big, and you get a new perspective that allows you to grow your business dramatically.

I could list a hundred reasons why you need to take time off, but for today I’ll give you my top three reasons.

First, it’s good for you, mentally and physically. Too many lawyers are working themselves into an early grave, stressed out with high blood pressure and poor physical health. Time off allows you to shake off the stress and recharge your batteries. Investing time with the people you love can actually help you be more creative, interesting and productive than lawyers who are always in the office.

Second, taking off also gives your team an opportunity to take off the training wheels. If you’re there to solve every problem — whether it’s legal or customer service — they’ll never grow beyond you. If you’re the big tree blocking the sun, growth will never occur. Taking several weeks off will empower your team to make decisions. Let them know you won’t be checking on them. My prediction is that they’ll grow and learn and expand as professionals. If you never take time away , then it robs them of this opportunity. You have to learn to trust your people. And if you can’t trust your people, you’ve got the wrong people.

The third reason is that taking time off will help you see how your firm works without you. How do your systems for customer service and marketing work when you’re not directly involved in all of it? Does it wither or thrive? How is your case flow in your absence? More importantly, how’s your cash flow if you’re not the one driving it?

Off Means OFF

I encourage lawyers to take at least 175 days off every year — and when I say off, I mean off. No emails, no phone calls, no “I’ll just check this one thing.” If you get interrupted, then there a system or process that needs to be fixed. When you’re on vacation, an emergency is nothing more than an opportunity for your team to figure out how to fix that problem. Empowered team members are happy, productive people — the kind you actually want in your firm.

I could list another 20 or 30 reasons why you need to take time off. Instead, I encourage you to look for any opportunity to start strengthening your law firm and your capacity for joy. Expand your life and grow your firm by taking enjoyable time off.

Lawyers: Gain an advantage with a domestic assistant

May 14, 2018

Filed under: Enjoying Life,Money,Practice Growth,Practice Management,Staffing Issues,Stress Management — admin @ 5:42 pm

Domestic Assistant AdvantageIf you’re like most attorneys, at the end of a long day at the office, all you want to do is get home to your family and relax. You want to take it easy, especially at the end of a long week.

All too often, however, you can’t relax. There are dishes in the sink, dirty clothes that need washing, and a carpet that looks like it hasn’t seen a vacuum in weeks. After a long day at work, you still have a long day ahead of you at home.

As a law firm owner, you’ve hired and trained staff for key positions that keep your practice humming — from a receptionist to a client intake specialist, from a paralegal to a team leader for document drafting. There’s one position you might not have considered, however, that could really increase your productivity at work and the amount of quality time you spend with your family: a domestic assistant.

I know what you’re thinking: There’s no way I can afford to hire someone to help manage my household errands and projects. I say there’s no way you can’t afford to hire a domestic assistant. Doing so will free up time for you to be more productive at the office and more focused when you’re spending evenings and weekends with your spouse and children.

My book, The Domestic Assistant Advantage,™ can help attorneys regain control over their home lives by teaching how to find, hire and train a domestic assistant to manage household chores and errands. You’ll be less stressed at home, and when you’re able to relax you’ll find that you’re more productive and happy at the office.

My book will answer many questions you might have:

  • Why would you hire one?
  • How can it save or make you money?
  • Coping with guilt
  • Job descriptions to recruit one
  • How to manage one — you can do this in less than an hour a week
  • Creating checklists, task lists and agendas

You really can buy time. Hiring a domestic assistant can help you become a super lawyer and super mom, dad, wife, husband and partner.

What’s your law firm’s social media marketing strategy?

April 9, 2018

Filed under: Law Firm Technology,Marketing — admin @ 1:18 pm

What’s the intent behind your law firm’s posts on social media? Are you hoping to attract more clients or to position yourself as “the” expert in your marketplace?

Creating an effective social media marketing strategy can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. By filling out a Social Practice Scorecard™, you’ll see where you are strong and where you’re not in your efforts to share your firm’s presence with a wider audience. It will generate ideas and prompt you to take action.

When you’re posting social media updates, are you providing followers with something of value? Or are you just posting robotic “hire us” blurbs? The most engaging social media profiles I’ve seen law firms operate consistently share links to landing pages on their websites where visitors can access educational videos, articles, and ebooks.

I would encourage you to be consistent on all the social media channels you use. If you publish information on your website but something seems to contradict it on a Facebook post or a Twitter update, then you have a legitimacy problem.

Every social media channel offers you an opportunity to present your firm in its best light to your current and future clients. If you’re careless in what you post, you risk sending them running over to your competitor.

Once you implement a social media marketing strategy, you need to know how effective your efforts are. Measuring tools like Google Analytics are free. Site entry points in an analytics tool can reveal if your website’s visitors arrived via your social media posts or from other sources. The “bounce rate” will show you how many people viewed one page and then left. A high bounce rate can indicate poor search engine optimization or a lack of useful, interesting content.

It takes time but developing a winning social media marketing strategy for your law firm is critical in today’s competitive marketplace. If you’re not out front, you’re getting left behind.

Use the Social Practice Scorecard to see where you are today, and then use it again at this time next year to see how far you’ve come.

Kick Start Your Law Firm Marketing in 2018

December 11, 2017

Filed under: Marketing,Money,Practice Growth,Practice Management — Tags: , — admin @ 9:23 pm

Many attorneys struggle with dedicating enough time for law firm marketing. I recently posted about holiday marketing strategies.

Here are a few quick tips to help you position your practice for a great start in 2018.

I think of marketing in terms of strategy. If done properly, you won’t have to worry whether you’re doing enough of it and then play catch up when you think you have fallen behind somewhere around August.

Keep It Simplelaw firm marketing

Small, thoughtful moves made throughout the year can yield more than sporadic efforts without a marketing strategy. Make a plan, commit to it, but don’t overthink it.

Stay in Action

Consistency is key. Review your marketing strategy from 2017 and highlight what worked. It might be a good idea to double down on those things for the new year. It can be something as simple as writing articles on LinkedIn regularly, to setting referral goals for the month. Just be consistent.

Be Yourself

It is always best to be yourself in your marketing. If people feel like you’re being inauthentic they may not trust you to be transparent in your work. This would defeat the purpose of your practice. Your marketing efforts are an opportunity to establish trust. Stay true to yourself (your brand) across all your marketing efforts.

Be Selective

Every client isn’t a yes. And if you’re managing your business effectively, you can put yourself in a position to say no to clients who aren’t the right fit. This will save you time and money, allowing room for your practice to grow. Yes, sometimes less is more.

Get Guidance and Accountability

There are times when you simply can’t figure it out yourself. This happens to everyone.  The work of transforming your practice will come from the effort you put toward your action plan. If that’s something you struggle with, then I strongly encourage you to invest an hour of your time in a Practice Growth Diagnostic™. It is simply THE most effective way to determine where the holes are in your practice and what actions you can immediately take to improve your law firm’s profitability. Your ultimate success lies in your hands.

Here’s to a great 2018 and hoping it’s a transformation for you personally and professionally!

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