Sometimes, even the least likely referral will come from the least likely source.
Referrals are the best way increase your firm’s prospect pipeline and are worth way, way more than any referral you could get through traditional marketing sources, including social media and PPC (pay-per-click) ads.
This article in HubSpot by Bill Cates covers “why” referrals are better than other sources of prospect marketing. We won’t go into the why; instead, here are some tangible tips you can begin using right away in your practice.
#1: Provide Great Service
This may be obvious to some, but firms that provide great service will undoubtedly receive more referrals from their clients than firms that slide by without going the extra mile.
For example, as a tax preparer, you’re providing a great service, but are you also providing tax planning for your clients? By offering this type of advisory service, you’re going beyond the status quo and creating amazing opportunities.
Your first thought might be that these opportunities simply mean selling more services to bring you more profit and stability – but more importantly, they’re creating touchpoints with your clients that not only show them that you are an expert, but also create a trusting relationship that’s more than just tax preparation.
If they have professional peers who need tax services, they will be more likely to refer their peers to you.
#2: Ask for Referrals
This isn’t complicated. Simply ask your clients for referrals.
Our human nature is to not damage a client relationship or put stress on them by asking for certain things at certain times. With referrals, this shouldn’t be the case and will only hold you back.
In cultivating these loyal relationships, it’s important to try to help each other – and that’s exactly what referrals do. So, this isn’t the time to be shy. Ask for those referrals, and remember that your clients will want referrals from you, too. You have to give as much as you get, which shouldn’t be too much of an “ask.”
A simple way to ask for referrals is to schedule a time to meet with your best clients – the ones where you both care about each other’s businesses and wellbeing. Make it clear that you’re not going to talk about their accounting, taxes, or anything else related to their business. Instead, talk about how you want to understand the kinds of referrals they would want – and you want to talk to them about your firm and how it can grow.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Simple as that.
Over the last few years, the pandemic pretty much killed in-person networking, but now that we’re past that, it’s time to get out and meet new people. You’ve got to make the time to do this. Yes, it’s easier to go to work and then go home, but it’s not out of the ordinary to schedule one networking opportunity each week, and if that’s too often for your schedule, then schedule one a month.
You don’t have to spend a lot on networking, but you do want to be consistent in the get-togethers and the places you’re going. The more often people see you, the more they will understand the kinds of referrals you’re looking for.
What about LinkedIn? This is still a great online way to meet other professionals, but be active. Join discussion groups, ask questions, and leave comments, and try as hard as you can to make personal connections.
For example, schedule a 15-minute coffee meeting with someone on LinkedIn over Zoom or Teams, but by all means, be sure you know the person and you’re already connected. No one likes spammy salespeople on LinkedIn.
#4: Follow up, but Don’t Harass
There’s a fine line between asking for referrals and being too aggressive.
If you sense you’re crossing a line or asking the same person too often, back away and assess where you are with this source. The last thing you’ll want to do is go back to the same well too often. Instead, use your judgment and pace yourself appropriately.
Begin Today and Set a Goal
One of the very best things you can do to get more referrals is to set some goals for you and your firm. Start small—say connecting with one person each week, then two people the next week, and so on.
But don’t put it off or else it won’t get done. Begin today – right now!
Bryan Cytron is vice president of Cytron and Company. He helps businesses and firms tell their story, build their brand, and grow through top-notch PR, marketing, media relations and communications. This includes websites, blogs, newsletters, social media and more, with a niche in accounting and financial services.
Scott Cytron is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (medical, legal, accounting, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
Scott H. Cytron, ABC
Cytron and Company LLC
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