If you are like most lawyers, the referrals you get from clients or people in your network are critical to your law firm’s growth strategy, maybe your primary source of new cases. But have you ever stopped to think if you are doing enough to nurture the sources from where your referrals come from or plant seeds to create new ones?
Stacey Brown Randall joins us for a conversation that demystifies the complexities behind referral generation and explains why referrals are earned and only available from certain sources. Instead of blaming yourself for not getting reviews from every client you represent, you should focus on those who are sending business your way.
If you value referrals and are looking at ways to improve your referral generation strategy and stop putting yourself in the uncomfortable position of asking for them, this conversation is for you.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Referral Ninja Quiz
- Generating Business Referrals Without Asking: A Simple Five Step Plan to a Referral Explosion
- Roadmap to Grow Your Business
Send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Liel: [00:00:00] Dr. Chip Bell says loyal customers, they don’t just come back, you don’t just simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media, and this is In Camera podcast, where we understand the difference between a satisfied client and a loyal one.
Liel: [00:00:52] Welcome to In Camera podcast, Private Legal Marketing Conversations Grace. Welcome back, welcome to April.
Grace: [00:00:59] Yes. I can’t believe we’re ready in April, Liel.
Liel: [00:01:01] That’s correct, Grace. But I promised myself in this particular episode, I’m not going to go ranting about how quickly the time has passed because I do that in every single episode. Instead of that Grace, I’m going to open up the way for you to introduce our next guest, because we have quite an interesting conversation lined up for today. So why don’t we get started?
Grace: [00:01:23] All right, let’s get started. So we are extremely thrilled to welcome Stacey Brown Randall for a conversation on generating business referrals for your law firm. Stacey’s the multiple award-winning author of Generating Business Referrals Without Asking. She’s also host of The Roadmap to Grow Your Business podcast. And a national speaker. Stacey has been featured in national publications like Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Investor Business Daily, CEOWorld and many more.
Liel: [00:01:54] Stacey, thank you very much for joining us for a conversation on getting business referrals for your law firm. How are you today?
Stacey: [00:02:02] I’m doing great and I’m excited to be here with you guys.
Liel: [00:02:05] We’re excited to have you. And so let’s talk just to get us started. Where is this podcast finding you?
Stacey: [00:02:12] So I am in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Liel: [00:02:15] Oh, wonderful. Excellent. Well, I do know that you’re about to go into spring break, so I really appreciate the fact that you still found some time to have this conversation with us before heading on your break and to get us started. Stacey, I mean, as I’m sure you already know, because you have worked with law firms and attorneys in the past. Referrals is probably the most desired type of new business that lawyers aspire to. And I think a great way or a great place to initiate this conversation is if you could explain to us why we need to differentiate between what is considered an actual referral and what isn’t a referral.
Stacey: [00:02:57] Yeah, I think that’s such a good place to start because we all think we know the definition of a referral. Right? I mean, we’ve been talking about them. Most people have been talking about them since the minute they got into business, whether that was 40 years ago or four days ago. You’re somehow talking about referrals early on. And what I have found is that over the years there has been this use of interchangeably using different terms to mean referrals. And so we’ve diluted the ultimate power of a referral when we use it interchangeably with other sales terms. So the way that I define referrals is first always start by recognizing why we want them. Right. The reason why you said that the most desirable way to grow our business are the most desirable way to grow our law firm or to bring new clients into our law firm is one, because they’re usually quicker to close, they’re easier to close, they’re less price-sensitive and they typically show up already trusting you. And all of those things happen because two key components are in place. So when we think about why we want a referral like what that referred prospect is like for us, that referred potential new client, what they show up as being like ready to be like, hey, I heard you’re the person to solve a problem here. Take my money right when we want them in that state of mind when they’ve been referred to us. There’s two things that are at play and there’s the two parts of how I define our referral.
Stacey: [00:04:18] Number one, there is always a personal connection. So if somebody shows up already trusting you, it’s because they have been connected to you by somebody they trust who also trusts you. So the way I define the cast of characters, so to speak, inside that referral process is there’s you as the solution provider. There’s the prospect, the person that you’re hoping will say yes to hiring you. And then, of course, there’s the referral source, the person who knows you and knows the prospect and knows that you can solve the prospect’s problems. So when a prospect shows up referred and they are ready to go and they are more interested in talking to you than any other attorney that they could choose to talk to, it’s because, one, they’ve been personally connected to you by someone they trust. The referral source. Two, there’s a need identified. The prospect knows that they are the prospect, hey, I need to get articles of incorporation drafted by an attorney. I know I have a need, right. Or I need a criminal defense attorney for a specific reason. That the prospect shows up in that situation with their need already identified, meaning their entire mentality mode. It’s why they’re willing to be connected by the referral source to you in the first place. And so when a referred Prospect shows up and you’re like, yeah, they’re the best, they’re the Holy Grail. They’re like ready to go. They hire me. They’re less price-sensitive. They already trust me.
Stacey: [00:05:41] It’s because they’ve been personally connected by someone they trust and they already know what their need is. And now they’re looking to solve it. When those two things are in place, that’s when you have a referral. What I find is lots of people will say, oh, I got a referral and what they really received was an introduction, meaning you were introduced to somebody by somebody else. So personal connection was there. But we have no idea why we’ve been introduced to them. We don’t know if it’s because it’s just another person we’re supposed to know in our network or if they are going to pitch to us and try to sell us or because they need to hire us like we don’t know the needs identified. And so an introduction is just separate from our referral. And the other one I see get confused all the time is word of mouth buzz. Oh, hey, I was talking about you the other day. I told somebody they had to hire you. It’s awesome. And they’re like, yes, I get a referral and I’m like, no, what you received is word of mouth, but somebody identified a need and somebody else that they need to hire you. But you have no idea who that prospect is because you were never connected to them. So an introduction and word of mouth buzz are really close to being a referral, but they’re both missing a different piece, either need identified or personal connection. And you need both to make it a true referral.
Liel: [00:06:55] Yeah, that actually it’s very, very clear. So basically, the two other options that are not referrals were basically to just touchpoints in what could potentially be a journey to at some point a partnership. But an actual referral is bringing someone right to the bottom of the funnel when they’re ready to buy, correct?
Stacey: [00:07:14] Yes, it’s like dropping them at the trust side of the no, like a trust factor within the sales continuum.
Grace: [00:07:20] That’s amazing. And we talk about no like and trust constantly on this podcast. So it ties in so perfectly. So my next question would be basically missed opportunities. Right. What would you say some of the frequent mistakes or missed opportunities lawyers have regarding referral generation?
Stacey: [00:07:39] So there’s always some biggies that I’ll see. And one of the biggies that I always see when I’m working with attorneys is that they just don’t know who’s referring them like they know they’re getting some referrals. And so they’re like, yes, I’m getting referrals. And I’m like, great, you tell me about it. And they’re like, man, I really don’t know. Right? I mean, maybe they’re tracking it. Maybe they’re not right. Maybe they can remember anecdotally the last person who was referred to them. So that referral source, that person who referred that stands out in their mind, but they’re not actually tracking it. And I don’t mean tracking it like you’re just tracking it for the sake of tracking because I mean, obviously, you can do that, too. But then understanding. OK, wait, if I’m tracking who’s referring people to me, I probably need to be doing something with that group of people. And what I teach and what I want people to understand is when you can identify who your referral sources are, the people who refer to you now, you’re going to, you should recognize that, because that is your business’s biggest asset. That’s always my argument, that it’s your business’s biggest asset because it’s the people who have clients too. Like here have a client. You don’t have to go run a Facebook ad for it. Right. You don’t have to go speak at a conference for it. It’s just here is somebody that I know needs what you do. Of course, it’s the easiest way to bring a new client into your practice. And so when you’re thinking about looking at that group of referral sources, it always amazes me when folks don’t know who those folks are.
Stacey: [00:09:01] I’m like, what are their names? And they’re like, well, I’m pretty sure Bobby refers me and I’m pretty sure that Sara refers me. And I’m like, Yeah, but what does the data in your business show? If he was actually referring your clients to you and it is always so fun for me to watch somebody go through the process of identifying their referral sources and they have that light bulb moment and they’re like, oh my gosh, look at the people who refer business to me and my it’s not favorite reaction for them, but it’s always my favorite reaction is when they’re like, oh, my gosh, look at all the people on this list that I basically ignore all year long. I’m like, imagine if you weren’t ignoring them and you were building a better relationship with them, how many more referrals they may consider sending to you. So it’s that identification of who your referral sources are. It is always the first step and it’s always the step that then gives you information. Right. You’re then armed with information to decide, OK, I know who my referral sources are now. What do I need to do to generate more referrals from them? So that’s not sporadic or just the hope strategy and hoping they’re going to give me one this year and actually putting a system behind it so I can take care of these people and be able to generate more referrals from them.
Grace: [00:10:09] It makes a lot of sense. I mean, if you can’t identify where it’s coming from, how can you make it better, right? Or work on it. You can’t. So this kind of ties into everything having to do with the as well the client experience, right? I don’t know if you’d agree with that, but how could the client experience strategy I know you talk about that in your book and on your podcast. How do you feel the client experience strategy can support your referral generation efforts?
Stacey: [00:10:39] Oh, it’s like the foundation, right? I mean, at the end of the day, if you don’t have the right client experience and in my world, we call that the sticky client experience, you can call whatever you want. It is going to be a good one. If you don’t have the right client experience, then you’re not going to be referable. And it’s so funny to me when I’m working with folks and they’re like, OK, get me more referrals and I will teach them my strategy to how to generate more referrals for their business. But I always have this disclaimer and I’m like, but look, we’re starting at like 2.0 In terms of getting you referrals. The 1.0 version is that you’re actually referable, that you actually do good work, you’ve got good processes in place. You take good care of your clients, you set expectations, you fix things when things don’t go well. Right. You have your teammates who are all working in the same direction. I’m not asking for perfection. Nobody should expect their client experience to be perfection. That’s crazy. But I am asking that you do great work and that you do take good care of your clients. And that is the foundational piece to being referable. The statement I always use is if you do great work, then you absolutely deserve referrals. You’re just not owed them. So we have to do a little bit of work. But the deserving them and not being owed them and being willing to do some work for those referrals only is in place because that very first little statement that I said at the beginning, which is if you do great work and that all comes down to your client experience and your foundation and your ability to be referable.
Liel: [00:12:08] Stace, so I totally agree with you. Nobody owes you anything. You need to earn those referrals. But here is probably the question that many business owners, lawyers amongst them, may be asking themselves, like, what am I missing? What am I doing wrong? Like, I’m doing a great job. My clients are thanking me so much. They’re so happy when you start seeing the results here, when they start seeing where this partnership is heading. But I’m just not getting those referrals. What is, what could be the things that are not being done right. That could be putting you in that position where you’re thinking like, why? Why my clients don’t want others to know about me. Why do I feel that I’m trying to be kept as everyone’s best-kept secret? Can you tell us a little bit about what are some of the things happening when that’s the feeling you’re getting? How can you overcome being in that position?
Stacey: [00:13:03] You know, it’s always interesting to me when I’m working with someone and they’re like, why aren’t my clients were offering me? And I always tell them I was like, even though we believe that every client we have could refer us, it doesn’t actually mean most of them think about it. And that’s really kind of hard, I think, for folks to like understand in the beginning is just because everybody says you’re amazing, it doesn’t actually mean they’re going to be thinking about referring you. And so the first thing I always tell folks is stop thinking that you don’t have it figured out unless every single client is referring you. They’re just not all built that way. I mean, we all have the capacity to refer. We just don’t all do it. But what we need to be focused in on the clients and not only clients, but clients and what I call centers of influence that could be referring you or that show that they have the propensity to refer you are they’ve done it once before. But then how are you taking care of them to be able to nurture that relationship and be able to generate more referrals from them? And what I find is that most people have the hope strategy, as I could do great work. And I just hope they refer me like that is not a strategy.
Stacey: [00:14:07] That is not a process that you can follow in your business, whereas it would be great if that’s how it works. That’s just not how it worked. Or we’d all just be hoping and we’d all be getting referrals and I wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. So the reality is that people believe that because they do great work, that should be that equals referrals. It’s just not how it happens. It’s just not how it works. And the other side of this is that if people are paying attention to all the advice they’ve ever heard about how to get referrals, it’s probably been for the majority of your listeners a huge turnoff, which is I’m either going to just expect that all my clients will refer me because I do great work, because I’ve been told that’s what it should look like. But that’s not the case. So bless that and release it. And then the other piece is, is because you’ve been told you’ve got to do things you don’t want to do, like asking your clients and asking your centers of influence over and over and over again for referrals that you’re probably like that is just not my personality. That’s not how I want to show up in the marketplace. That’s not how I want to be known. Is that the attorney that comes at you and you’re like, oh, gosh, please avoid him. He’s always asking, right? Avoid her. She’s always going to be asking for referrals. That’s the advice we’ve been given. It’s like you’re either hoping that they’re going to happen because you’ve been told by some misguided information that everybody will refer you and they won’t or you’ve been told what you want, referrals. You just got to go ask for them. And that doesn’t fit who you are. It’s not authentic. It feels like manipulation. It’s not how you want to show up in the marketplace. It’s not how you want your clients to see you. And so that’s what you’re left with. Hope for it or ask for it. And if neither fit you, then you typically have a hands-off approach to your referrals and you’re only generating, if you’re generating any referrals, need a level of consistency, a very, very small amount or percentage of what you should be generating. And so when I start working with someone, I always say I get to shift your mindset. First, I need you to understand that not every client will refer you no matter how much they love you. So let it go. And the other side is, I don’t want you to ask or compensate or be overly promotional and gimmicky and the ways that you do go about generating referrals. But what I need you to do is be able to identify who’s referred you in the past and get ready to cultivate a real relationship with them, where we actually do some very specific things, particularly the language that we use that allows them to think about us from a referral perspective and then what the referrals come in and kind of look at where they’re coming from.
Stacey: [00:16:31] And then, of course, there’s probably the attorney who’s sitting there thinking to themselves of the business owners who like, well, what if I have never had people in the past refer me right, then it’s always like, well, there’s also a strategy and a process. I had to take clients and contacts and turn them into referral sources. But we always start with if we’ve received referrals in the past, we always start there because that’s like our low-hanging fruit of people have. You’ve referred me before, you’ll probably refer me again if I can just get out of my own way and take care of you with the right language in the right way, coming from the right place. And then that is how the strategy is built. But lots of people, they just get stuck on this whole idea that everybody’s got to refer me. And so the fact that they do not mean referrals won’t happen for me or I have to do things that make me really uncomfortable, like asking for them.
Liel: [00:17:13] Thank you very much for boasting there are some of the mist that we all grown used to accepting. So, Stacey, you’re saying here it’s totally fine only to be getting referrals from certain clients. But then you say when you identify who are these clients who are actually sending over new business to you, you need to do something with that relationship. You’re basically saying something along the lines that something has to change there or enhanced. So what is it? Do we need to enhance? What do we need to change something? What do we need to start acting in a slightly different way, acknowledging them in a different way, sending them bottles of wine every month? What is it that we do? Because we’ve heard it everything, right? I mean, it’s not new. People obviously want to be appreciative, want to be thankful to those who are sending them over business. I mean, there is this common practice built on that. But what is really effective? What are some things that actually you think are the right across the board? Probably some circumstantial things will change between one case or another. But when you’re getting referrals from a client, not from your network, from a client, what are some good practices that one should follow in a way to taking care of that relationship?
Stacey: [00:18:33] Yeah, I sometimes think people overcomplicate this process by figuring out that there’s this one thing that we do and then we do it consistently all the time to be able to generate referrals. And that’s ultimately not what we need. Now, what I want you to build is a system and a strategy within your practice so that you will execute on it, because the execution and the consistency of your execution will always be key. But what I want you to understand is the philosophy for which we come at this. Referrals only come from relationships and relationships are maintained by connection. So the strategy you need to build is how you’re going to connect to nurture or deepen or strengthen or build the relationship you have with your referral sources. But what that looks like is not gifts every month or a card every month or your newsletter every month. Like I’m not saying those things are necessarily bad, but what we want to do is focus more on the surprise and delight factor when it comes to really taking care of our referral sources. And it doesn’t need to be things that cost money. I mean, I think that’s the other thing. People always kind of like what how much money should I be spending and how many gifts should I be sending? And when we look at the framework of how we build a sustainable referral strategy, we call it the touchpoint plan, the referral touch point plan, like the outreach is at the touchpoints that we’re going to do throughout the year for our referral sources.
Stacey: [00:19:59] We’re focused first and foremost on what do they want? What do they need? Right. What people don’t recognize is nine times out of ten, they just want to be thanked and acknowledged. But we also want to look at that surprise and delight factor. We call it being memorable and meaningful. So it’s not a bottle of wine every single month, right, because that’s the same thing over and over again misses out on that memorable and meaningful surprise and delight factor. But here’s the other piece. It’s also the language that we use when we are taking care of those referral sources. It is the language that we use that allows us to plant what we call referral seeds. And here’s ultimately how the process works. If I can impact how you feel about me, right, so if I’m your attorney and you’re my client and you’ve referred me and I can continue to impact how you feel about me by knowing that I’m thankful for you, that I appreciate your referrals, that they don’t go unnoticed. Right. That I have gratitude for the actions that you’re taking of putting your reputation on the line to send somebody new to me.
Stacey: [00:21:02] If I can impact how you feel about me, then I can start to direct how you think about me. So if my strategy and it’s typically the way that I teach it is somewhere between four and eight touchpoints in a year, most people in their first or second year are going to be six to eight. And the longer you do this, the less you can do what you do means you can get away with less as well. But if I’m going to be making sure that I am letting you know how important you are to me four to eight times a year and then I’m planting referral seeds while I’m doing that, not only am I impacting how you feel about me, I am also directing how you think about me. And it’s that subconscious piece of the referral piece that were that were ultimately after, because it’s not as if we expect to do one touchpoint and boom, we’re going to get referrals. We never have that expectation. We know that this taking care of you in an ongoing way allows us to be top of mind so that when you have the opportunity to refer us, of course, we’re the only person you think to refer.
Stacey: [00:22:02] So it isn’t about and that’s what I always tell folks, like, we can’t go into this thinking we’re going to manipulate how many times are going to refer and exactly, you know, exactly what this is going to look like. But it is more about that surprise and delight factor of being memorable and meaningful and then using the language that we use. But the big piece that people miss in this is that referrals will always come down to two things the desire to refer you and the opportunity to refer you. And I can’t manufacture opportunity, but I can help make sure that you have a desire to refer me by how I take care of you. And as long as I’m doing it from a genuine place and that I truly feel thankful for you and that I want you to know that, then it’ll feel genuine as it should be. I always tell folks like if you’re into manipulation, please exit stage left because that there’s no place for you here and what we were doing, you’ve got to want to care and you have to care about your referral sources. This is just our way of taking care of them so they know how important they are to us. And then we use language because we also want them to think about the fact that they’ve referred us right and that we’re so appreciative that moving forward.
Stacey: [00:23:10] And so that’s how the pieces fit together. I think when you’re hearing it for the very first time, you’re like, OK, in theory, this makes sense. But I actually tell folks when they build out their plan, I’m like, it’s actually as it’s even simpler than you can imagine it to be. The biggest issue is, is what are you going to do? What are you going to say when you’re doing it starts with only who are you doing it for and what do they need, now what’s easy for you to deliver on. And then, of course, your consistency in doing it. Like we have an attorney in our program who has started out with one referral source, get six or seven referrals or cases a year for that one referral source couldn’t take them. All right. They were the right fit. And she started thinking about when that one referral source retires, I’m really in trouble. She was like, I need other people referring me. She got referred to me by a financial advisor who had worked with me. And she’s like, you need to work with Stacey. We took her from those six or seven referrals a year from one referral source and got her to twelve.
Stacey: [00:24:05] And then in her and before the end of that first year and then got her to twenty-seven referrals her second year. And in that process she was also she needed referral sources, she needed to turn clients and other attorneys and COIs into referral sources. So she’s following the process to turn people into referral sources. You get twenty-seven referrals and her first year she got thirty, thirty to thirty-two I think it was in her second year. And then every year since she’s gotten forty referrals or more a year and she’s in her sixth year she actually at the end of 2020 she just built her referral plan for the seventh time for the year of 2021 and last year in 2020 she got forty-seven referrals. And this is a way that sustainably is how she builds her practice because she knows these are the people I take care of. This is how I take care of them. This is the language that I use. And I also make sure that I do really good work at the same time. Right. That’s important to be referable. And then she is consistent with following her process and it consistent with following that referral process, that referral plan, which is where she’s having her ongoing success.
Liel: [00:25:06] That’s amazing. And thank you so much for sharing with us that story of how your system has impacted a lawyer. Before we jump into talking a little bit as to how then lawyers can refer out some referrals themselves or how the B2B referrals work, I just want to go back to the client referrals side of things when we were thinking about getting referrals without having to ask from them. Really what you were saying is here to take care of the sources that are already referring to you, be there throughout the year, be present there with some gestures of appreciation, and that will prompt them to continue their efforts of sending over people to your law firm. Is that correct?
Stacey: [00:25:56] Yeah, it’s ultimately right. It is ultimately a process that you build that you’re going to execute on throughout the year. And we call them touchpoints, but it’s like the what am I going to do? I mean, sometimes it’s the handwritten thank you note. Sometimes it’s the actual getting on a virtual Zoom with somebody and having a real conversation. Sometimes it is sending a gift like there’s different things you can do that allow you to deepen the relationship with this person so that they know you care about them. And then the tactical piece we teach is just the language. So, yes, you’ve got it. It sometimes to some people, sounds a little bit like it sounds too simple to be true, but that is exactly what it is. It is just your ability to be consistent by taking care of the people who take care of your business. We just build a process behind it so we know we’re doing it right. Not too much, not too less, and using the right language.
Grace: [00:26:43] So that brings us to the last few questions and there specifically towards the B2B side of things, because I think we have an idea and a pretty good understanding of how to basically work with our clients, make sure that they get the greatest client experience. And that’s how we will basically with a process, of course, in place with the referrals and everything that we’ve spoken about, getting referrals from our clients. Now, the other side, the flip side, the B2B side from other lawyers and other attorneys, what are the main differences, would you say, when getting referrals from or generating referrals from other attorneys versus getting them from clients? Is the process different? Is there something key to that process that makes it different?
Stacey: [00:27:28] You know that I love this question so much because I love being the bearer of great news. And the reality is the system, the process is not much different. At the end of the day, we feel like we’re supposed to have a different process when it comes to getting referrals from our peers. Right. When we’re trying to get referrals from other attorneys, we feel like the process is supposed to be different. But at the end of that, at the other end of that relationship, attorney or not, is a human that wants to be taken care of, that wants to be acknowledged. Now, here’s the thing attorneys need other attorneys to refer to. So for most attorneys that are in my program, their largest group or their largest number of referral sources may actually be other attorneys and then it may be clients and then it may be other contacts that they have, depending on the type of law that they practice. So the plan that we build, it’s actually the same for clients or centers of influence, the difference between it. So if the plan and how we take care of them is pretty much the same, I mean, obviously we don’t say thanks for being a client to a center of influence to another attorney. That would be weird, right? So maybe the language a little bit different. But the biggest difference when you’re thinking about getting referrals from other attorneys versus getting referrals from your clients is the why they refer you. That’s the piece that’s different. And the why they refer you when they are an attorney is because usually they need you. Right? They need to be able to handle a client off or somebody off to you to take care of them.
Stacey: [00:28:55] That makes them look good while they’re making that handoff because they can’t help them with their problem. So what the client does it because they just loved working with you and they appreciated that experience and they wanted to refer you to somebody else. Somebody else had that problem with an attorney. There’s typically more of a need. And so there’s typically more of a business conversation piece that always goes along with understanding, like, OK, what type of work do you do? Right. What kind of law do you practice and what does that look like? There’s usually more of a conversation of understanding what the other attorney does, but it is still the same foundational principles behind it of how we take care of them. It’s just recognizing that why they work for us may look different. And most attorneys have other attorneys as their best referral sources. I can think of a number of folks that I have in my program and I think about like who’s referring them? Like I have one intellectual property attorney named Rick and the majority of his referrals are going to come from other attorneys and another firm that does not do IP work. So he becomes their main source of who they refer to because they make him look good or he makes them look good. And then, of course, they have the opportunity to refer as well. So the why behind it is typically different, how you need to take care of those folks, minus a little bit of language tweaks. It’s not much different.
Grace: [00:30:11] I really like how you’re saying it’s the same principles. It’s just knowing the why, right? It’s always about knowing the why behind these things. And that’s how it helps you kind of beyond the know like and trust. It’s just why is somebody coming to me and why are they referring their clients or potential clients to me? So that’s a really great phrase. Thank you for that. And so I know you’ve stated this about clients and necessarily having to ask for them to get a referral. Do you feel the same way? Can you really get referrals from other attorneys without directly asking for them?
Stacey: [00:30:47] Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think, though, it depends on the relationship you already have with that attorney, depending on how that conversation will go. Right. I mean, some attorneys, they’re already looking for someone to refer to. So they may bring it up first, which is, of course, ideal and does not always happen. But let’s be honest, it’s great when it does and in other ways. Right. It’s your ability to plant referral seeds. So they start thinking about you from a referral nature. And I think it goes back to that why reason. Like, why are they referring to you if they need someone to refer to who does what you do and nobody at their firm or they don’t do what you do, there’s a natural conversation that’s going to start that you’re not going to have to force by asking for those referrals. But if that natural conversation doesn’t start, it’s your ability to plant referral seeds to get them thinking about you from a referral perspective that actually helps them bring themselves to the place of giving you that first referral. Then you’re taking care of them and you get more referrals that follow. So here’s the best way that I can kind of explain this using an example, the number one question that’s always asked, any time you get on a virtual conversation with somebody or face to face conversation with somebody, usually one of the first questions that’s always asked is, how’s it going? How’s business? Right.
Stacey: [00:32:01] I mean, it’s like the number one question that you ask. It’s like in your neighborhood you may be asking, what church do you go to? At least maybe that’s just more down here in the south. Right. But there are always these questions that are always asked in conversation and in business conversations that typically always how’s business? How are things going? Your ability to plan a referral. See, then that moment is key to how they’re going to start remembering you. And that’s all a referral seed is. It is not a I’m going to plant the seed and then, boom, you’re going to give me six referrals by tomorrow. It is. We are planting something. Then we are nurturing it. We are watering it. We are helping it grow and blossom. And that’s the piece that people miss. So if somebody asks you, how’s business, the last thing I want you to say is, oh my gosh, great. Thanks so much.
Stacey: [00:32:41] I mean, business is great. Law firms busting at the seams. I mean, we’re doing so well, whatever it is. What I want you to do in that moment is plan a referral. See, as I want you to be able to say thanks so much for asking, Grace. I appreciate it. Business is actually going really well. It’s it’s crazy. The first quarter of 2021, we brought on a number of new clients and we were looking back at where they came from. And we’re just so fortunate. We’re just so thankful that over 70 percent of the people who have are now working with our firm came because they were referred to us from other attorneys. It’s planting the seed as another attorney that, oh, people refer to you that are just like me. And that is as simple as sometimes is what’s necessary. It’s needed to start a conversation. Sometimes you’re going to plant some different referral seeds over time. I mean, I do tell folks in my program that is really my secret weapon is the language piece, but sometimes it’s just that one seed and then a referral conversation will start. And then before you know it, you’re referring to each other.
Grace: [00:33:37] That makes perfect sense. I mean,
Liel: [00:33:39] That’s a beautiful script.
Grace: [00:33:39] Right? Yeah, it is. It is. I mean, language is everything. And we are constantly talking about content and language and the story and the why.
Liel: [00:33:48] Empathy.
Grace: [00:33:48] Right. So this is it couldn’t have tightened better. Now, before we even started the podcast, we were sort of asking things about referrals and trying to understand some basics about it. Right. This is where I’m going to ask that question about compensation, because I feel like a lot of us had the mentality that we’re doing referrals because of compensation or fees or something like that. But that’s not the case, right? It’s to build the business. So could you just kind of talk about a little bit about what we were talking about before, before the podcast even started and that whole compensation piece? Because that was so interesting to me. And Liel and the way you presented it was so perfect. I feel like everybody that’s listening to this particular podcast can benefit from it.
Stacey: [00:34:34] Now, I’m wishing we were recording then and then you could just edit my answer. Right, because let’s see if I can get it as succinctly affected last time. So there are these ways that people think about referrals and it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. And it’s no different for attorneys and lawyers. And there is this idea that there is compensation that needs to be paid. When somebody refers you now internally in your law firm, obviously there is typically the referring attorney who will get a cut of the billable hours or whatever work, whatever it looks like in terms of the fees that are paid, they may not be the attorneys who are actually doing the billable hours, but they’re the ones who brought the client into the business or into the firm. And so there’s compensation that happens internally. That is every firm, every law firm structures that whole process internally differently. And that’s not what I’m talking about. Right. What we know that we’re talking about is the idea that I’m in my firm. I’m not an attorney but just pretend for a second. I was I’m in my firm. You’re in your firm, and I need to refer someone to you, right, the idea here is, is that it’s typically not being done because compensation is expected and in some cases, some would make the argument. Right, that can you do that from a lawyer’s perspective or not from like the Bar Association’s perspective? But it’s that idea that people were referring to other people, like attorneys are referring to other attorneys, because ultimately they’re like everybody else and they need to help the person who has a problem, their client who has a problem that they cannot solve themselves.
Stacey: [00:36:03] So they need a trusted person they can refer them to. Usually, this is going to happen when you’re in different areas of law. They’re not typically going to be referring to their competition unless their competition isn’t really competition. And they only take cases here and above and you take cases here below so we can do some referring that way. Most of the time the referrals aren’t happening because compensation is expected. And actually, when you do compensate, you actually bring in a different mentality to the relationship as well. So when you are compensating. Right, it’s that concept that they’re being paid for that referral when in reality, typically why a referral is ultimately happening isn’t because they’re running around looking for ways to get compensated from you, but because they have a client they need something and it makes the most sense to refer them to you. And I always say, look at this from the client’s perspective. If you as an attorney are being compensated by another attorney when they refer business to you, it’s really important the client knows. The client needs to know that the person you chose to refer them to is, you’re being referred to them because you’re actually going to get compensated on it. Like it’s like buyer beware, right? It’s like that stuff should be disclosed. It’s disclosed in other industries. It’s disclosed in real estate when a real estate agent refers to another real estate agent. Everybody knows there’s gonna be a twenty-five percent commission that’s paid out. It’s signed paperwork. Everybody gets it. When you go to a blog and you click on the link and it’s an affiliate link, it should say, hey, this is an affiliate link, we may be compensated. It’s the same thing in your relationship with other attorneys. But even in that case, when we’re thinking about why we’re being why we’re actually referring somebody else, usually it’s not happening because of the compensation, because I’m not going to say there’s not attorneys out there that look to refer specifically because of how they’re going to be compensated back. But with the attorneys that I work with and we have so many in our program, that’s not how they run their practice. They’re not referring to other attorneys to be compensated. And their expectation isn’t that they’re going to be compensated, attorneys who refer them, but they are going to take care of each other. And that’s how that relationship is actually built.
Liel: [00:38:03] That’s great, Stacey. And it’s really important, right, to differentiate those. And it’s perfectly fine also to have two different types of sources for referrals, the ones that are paid and the ones that you’re getting, because you’re just the best option for people in your network for a particular kind of work. And I think it’s very important to not to try to treat one like you would treat the other. But with all that being said, the whole touchpoint idea sounds like something that you should be implementing with all the kinds of referral sources, not only for the ones that are not getting directly compensated by you for being a referral source. Stacey, this conversation has been super-rich and there is a lot of good insights here that you’ve shared with us. But if we’ve had to bring it down to a few actionable tips or takeaways that our listeners could be doing starting today in order to improve their referral generation efforts, what would those be?
Stacey: [00:39:10] So I have two. The number one that I would say is I think it’s always good to understand where you’re starting from. So we have a nine-question quiz. It’s called the Referral Ninja Quiz. And I ask you nine questions that help you understand where are you starting from in your skills and your ability to be able to generate referrals right now. And so when you take that nine-question quiz, it gives you a level of a referral ninja that helps you understand where you are. And then what are the gaps you need to close to get to the top level, which is the referral ninja master level. And you’ll land at a level most people land at a level below the master level or so. And so it’s figuring out what are the gaps I need to close by taking that quiz. And that helps you understand. Here’s where I am now. Do I want to do the work to get to that next level? Right into that quiz helps you understand where you are in the gaps you have to close so you can make some choices. And the second thing is, if you do nothing else, I mean, obviously, I would hope that you would take the quiz so you would know you’re starting from.
Stacey: [00:40:04] But if you do nothing else, the number one thing you need to do is take the time to identify your referral sources. And I break down that exact process in my book, Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, and it’s on my podcast as well. And I even have a few articles on my website about it. Like, you can go consume that information that will teach you how exactly do you identify who your referral sources are? Because that is the moment that I have found with everybody who goes through this process when they see the names of the humans that are referring them, there is like a light bulb moment. It will happen and you will feel empowered to decide how differently do you want to take care of them to be able to generate more referrals from them and more than likely, you’re going to realize you’ve got an untapped resource in your business that was right under your nose all along. And knowing who they are is such an empowering movement to make in your business.
Liel: [00:40:54] Thank you so much for joining our conversation, for sharing with us so much knowledge, and particularly for giving us an opportunity to go and take this referral quiz for which will have a link on our episode notes. Again, thank you very much for your time.
Stacey: [00:41:07] Yes, thanks for having me. It was a pleasure. Thank you.
Liel: [00:41:22] Grace, great conversation. It’s been a while since we haven’t really talked about referrals, which is, as we said at the opening of the episode. Right. It’s by far the most desired type of new business for as far as I can tell, really any law firm we haven’t yet met one attorney that has said really referrals is not a central part to our organization and to our new business acquisition strategy. So, Grace, what are your thoughts? What takeaways can we bring up from this conversation? Because we’ve already got some very good ones.
Grace: [00:41:59] Yeah, no, her two takeaways were perfect. I mean, I can jump on those, but really for me, I think the first one has to be identify your referral sources. Right. I mean, it needs to start there, whether it’s an attorney, referral source or a client referral sources, you need to find out who they are. And, you know, you and I deal with that on a regular basis when it comes to where does the traffic come from? Right. We track everything. So to me is if you’re not already doing it, which it’s funny because I don’t think a lot of people are as much as they like the referrals, they have an idea. They think they have an idea of where their sources are. Referrals are coming from. But in reality, if you’re not tracking it, how do you know where they’re coming from?
Liel: [00:42:46] The truth is, it’s manual work, right? Tracking these referrals is manual work is not as easy as tracking down clicks and other types of marketing activities that you do. So, first of all, I think one thing that is extremely important is for your teams to understand what is the value of actually tracking down where these referrals come from, because most likely this is information that is gathered on the intake step. And what I’ve seen often enough is that whenever they don’t, they’re not too sure where the source comes from or whatever, they’ll just say oh referral. Right. And it’s not a good thing. It’s not a good practice, because then you’re just populating a very important category with data that is invalid. So obviously, you need to then dig deeper referral, OK, where, from whom. Right. And that’s really what’s going to allow you to then be able to implement a strategy like the one Stacey here is suggesting, because if you don’t know, who do you need to take care of, where you need to nurture a relationship, you’re just standing nowhere. So I totally agree. And obviously, that was Stacey’s away as well. So obviously set up some good rules as to how are you identifying and collecting data about where your referrals coming from
Grace: [00:44:11] So that it would kind of bring me to my second takeaway. If you’re not tracking it, start today and add a field, you know, something to the intake into your CRM or case management software. This is a referral source. Most of them come with it.
Liel: [00:44:28] Yes. One hundred percent. Grace, like do try to gather that information upfront. My only thing there would be just don’t settle with whatever response or no response you get when you ask the first time. These are the type of things that you need to follow up until you actually get the answer right. So let’s suppose the information remained very vague at the time of intake, then this needs to move ahead to the next person having a conversation to the next stage. A note needs to be put up there to be followed up referral source or whatever is so that whomever is having the second touch point with a potential client can then bring that up again and again until you actually can narrow it down to the source, because that’s again going back to what we were just talking a few minutes ago. It’s that settling with the first answer or by, you know, just prioritizing older questions and leaving aside this other source. Like what? What was the source? How did you find out about us not giving anything of importance? So I think it’s extremely important that you do have a system that doesn’t just collect this information but actually attributes to it enough weight for it not to be just left on stage one or stage two if that information could not be gathered for whatever reason. Sometimes just the client did not have that information top of mind the conversation. Just let’s draw a different path, because again, again, it’s all about empathy, right? We don’t want to also be having these conversations where somebody is calling you and telling you that their daughter is at the hospital because and you’re asking about, you know, did you see those on TV, on a magazine, on a billboard on the Internet, or did somebody refer to? Right, sometimes you just need to defer asking or collecting some information to different stage. So Grace. Let’s move on to a third takeaway here.
Grace: [00:46:35] So I think for me, I like to touch upon the attorney B2B part to me. That’ll be like the third take away. Plant seeds, right? I mean, that’s kind of what she was saying, and there’s plenty of opportunities when you’re talking to the attorneys, as it is in other businesses in general, to be able to plant the seeds of a referral. You know, you’re talking to them, you know, how’s business? Just like Stacey said, when someone says, how’s business? Talk to them, talk to them. The truth about how business is going and you discuss how that whole process is working for you. And, you know, I mean, you’re talking to another attorney. And a lot of times the reason you’re doing this, because you’re trying to share information to best help your clients and how are you going to best help your clients by being able to refer to somebody that you know, like and trust you and send your clients to them and not for compensation. Right. Because money starts to change the structure of the way people can do business a lot of times with each other or it’s just not even allowed. Right. Let’s say I’m a bankruptcy attorney. And as you put in this other person’s a PI attorney, you know, in different states, I’m not licensed in that state. So I may just refer to someone I know in another state. So it may not even be possible. But if you go into it with the mentality of not for compensation, it’s the best way to help my client create those relationships with other attorneys that you already have or augment them by talking about referrals and business or just business, not referrals, because you don’t necessarily need to ask for it, as Stacey said,
Liel: [00:48:10] Particularly now as we are starting to prepare for in-person networking, in-person gatherings, right. Where these conversations tend to happen more often and more personally. Right. You’re meeting with someone you haven’t seen in the year. One hundred percent possible. Right. That these types of questions are going to start coming up. So so I think it’s brilliant. I mean, in the way that she answers. And literally it’s at some point we’re going to transcribe the sentences and phrases she used there. And it’s just about framing and telling how things have been for you and inserting the idea that your business has done great because others have trusted you and referred people they know to you. Right. That’s such a powerful concept and it’s subtle in the sense that you’re not foreseeing a request for referrals. Or trying to get down to business right away in a way that it feels so natural and maybe even aggressive. So I think Grace that’s a great piece of advice that we were left with here, because sooner than we know, we’re going to start having more and more of these types of conversations. And this is a great time to start really thinking about how are we going to answer and what is it that we want to say and talk about what’s been happening in our businesses over the past few months, year or these first quarter. So, Grace, I think this has been a really insightful and great conversation, and I really enjoyed having it with you and Stacey.
Grace: [00:49:49] Same Liel, as usual. It’s always a pleasure.
Liel: [00:49:51] All right. Excellent. So we’ll be back next week. Another conversation. Take care. Grace.
Grace: [00:49:56] You, too.
Liel: [00:50:00] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers, leave us a review, and send us your questions to email@example.com. We’ll see you next week.