How Important Are Referrals?

Posted by on Feb 19, 2009 in Business Development | No Comments

I can tell you that invariably, when firms do a client audit they will find that over 80% (many times higher depending on the type of practice) of their clients come in as referrals.

Actually, it’s pretty simple psychology. Most people, when making a high involvement purchase, whether that means its expensive or the type of outcome is critical to -fill in the blank, – will first ask those closest to them –friends and family, for their advice, insight, recommendations. (Think about how car brands tend to become family centric. Grampa drove a Ford, Uncle Bill drove a Ford, Aunt Mary drove a Ford, Mom and Dad drive Fords, and I’m going to buy a Ford.)

From there they may widen the circle and ask others who they know who have had similar needs, purchases, problems. It’s the “Know, Like, TRUST” factor at work. And it’s real. That’s also why law school alums tend to refer work to each other – if he/she went to XYZ Law School, I knew them in law school, etc., I’m going to refer this work to them.

Today, of course, people also use the Internet to research choices. That’s why review sites are pretty valuable.

If I am considering buying an Apple Computer, I will go to the Web site and read what others are saying. In a sense it’s a trusted community of other people who own Apples.

When is the last time you went up to a stranger on the street and asked them to recommend an attorney who could handle an acquisition you’re thinking about? Or a car? A vacation destination? A doctor? Hmmm.

Try introducing a  “thank you for your referral” program in your law firm.  A simple note, hand signed, from the managing partner to a referral source is powerful. Even if the attorney who lands the work sends a thank you, that note from the management says they are listening and that your referral is really valuable. Start tracking referrals on your new matter reports. Count on seeing the same names more than once. Everyone likes to be recognized.

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