Recently I finished up with a client. His parting words to me were “I feel like I’ve done a ‘180’ with my practice while working with you. You’ve taken the ‘mystery’ out of business development for me and now I know where and how to approach it. Thank you.”
The easiest way to get more referrals is from your clients. The fastest way to do this is to ensure they are completely happy with your service. In my opinion, that starts with effective communication. One of the top complaints lawyers get from clients is that they don’t communicate often enough and make assumptions. Communication is at the heart of your service to your clients. So get agreement from the very beginning on how often and by which method your clients would like you to communicate with them. And also explain, the more that communication is required, this will add to the cost of your services.
The next thing I recommend, is to give your clients permission to give you feedback throughout your dealings with them. Your clients might be intimidated by you and not want to point something out when it’s relatively small. And you want to know if something isn’t quite to their liking so you can fix it in that moment before it grows and festers to the point where they don’t want to pay their bill. Often when mistakes are made, it’s not the mistake that people remember. it’s how quickly and effectively the mistake is corrected or reversed.
Today I received an email from a client I just wrapped up with. These are her words.
“The professional relationship that I have developed with you over the last year has been truly monumental in my career.” She topped that compliment by asking me to be her mentor. I of course agreed.
My clients often get tied up in coming up with that ‘perfect pitch’. And I tell them over and over again, “don’t pitch, ask questions”. Get to know what they need, what their challenges are. Use that valuable time to build or strengthen your relationship with and them demonstrate a willingness to listen and learn about them.
If you ask the right questions, your contacts, clients and soon-to-be clients will tell you everything you need to know in order to market to them and serve them well.
How many times in a coaching session have I heard, “I wish I knew this six months ago”. or “I can’t believe I never thought of this”, or “I can’t help but wonder why I wasn’t doing this before”. I have lost count. I tell my clients repeatedly, don’t look back, look at what you are doing right now, and just keep doing it. After-all, if you knew everything already, why would you work with a business development coach? They didn’t teach you this stuff in Law School. There was no training manual provided when you joined the firm. Stop beating yourself up for what you didn’t know. And focus on what you know now.
Would you like to increase your referrals? Would you like to have raving fans for clients? One of the ways you can do this is by making sure you know your clients are happy with your work.
Even if they smile when you have your final meeting. Even if they don’t dispute your final bill. Can you be certain they were happy with your work? Can you count on them to provide you with referrals? Are you willing to take that chance? I have worked with many clients who have realized they don’t know for absolute certainty their clients are happy.
The easiest way to ensure they are? Give them permission in your initial meeting to give you feedback. Ask them to let you know if something is not exactly the way they want it. If they are unsure about something, make it easy for them to ask you. Believe it or not, a lot of clients are intimidated by their lawyers. They won’t feel comfortable bringing something up unless you make it perfectly clear that’s how you like to work.
By doing this, you are then in a position to correct any small issue in the moment, as it happens. This prevents small issues from festering and growing into large ones. By the time they become large issues, it’s almost always too late to effectively correct the situation. This approach also strengthens your relationships with you clients.
So the next time you open a file, a new client, or long-standing one, try this approach. Watch for the subtle reaction on their face.