In an educational context we refer to the three Rs as being those crucial elements that all children need to master. That is, Reading wRiting and aRithmetic. This is somewhat ironic given that only one of the three topics actually starts with an R. (The phrase is used as each of the three words, when spoken, has a strong R sound at the start).
Professional advisers keen to win more work would do well to focus on a different set of 3Rs.
You want to be Remembered, you want to be Referred and you want to be Recommended. Let’s consider each in turn, in a slightly different order (for reasons which will become apparent):
You want to be Remembered
How might you become more memorable – for good reasons?
One way to do this is counter-intuitive. Instead of talking a lot about yourself and your practice, develop a natural curiosity and interest in other people.
It can be really helpful to learn how to ask good questions and then to listen carefully to the replies. The more genuinely interested you are in someone else the more they will remember you as an interesting person. Yes, this means you talk less but your questions may themselves, if well worded, evidence your experience and credibility.
You want to be Recommended
This can only happen once your clients have experienced your advice and can express an honest opinion about your work.
Think about any service provider who has done work for you. If you are really pleased with their service you will gladly recommend them when someone asks you if you know a good decorator, plumber, mechanic, dress-maker or whatever.
You want to be Referred
Again I am grateful to Andy Lopata who helped me to understand the distinction between referrals and recommendations and also how these differ from tips and leads.
- A tip – This is quite simply a piece of information. It rarely includes contact details and may even be based on a misunderstanding. Nice though it is to receive tips, they leave us with plenty of leg-work to do ourselves to determine if they are each worth pursuing.
- A lead – This is more than a tip, in that you may receive contact information, but a lead is little more than the first stage in the sales process.
When someone gives you a name and a number and says ‘You need to speak to this person’ they are simply giving you a lead. If they invite you to use their name when approaching the prospect that is simply a ‘warm’ lead.
The other side of a lead is when an introducer recommends that someone looking for an accountant gets in touch with you; but the introducer is unable to recommend your services as they have not experienced them.
Referrals are much more valuable than tips and leads. Andy explains that there are three steps to referral heaven. In the context of this blog post these three steps would be:
- The person referring you identifies someone who needs a professional like you to help them.
- They talk to the prospect and determine that they are interested in speaking with you.
- The prospect is then expecting your call which will follow after the introducer passes on the referral to you.
Can you see how much more valuable this would be than a tip or a lead?
The importance of these 3Rs is a key reason why I speak on the subject of how you can STAND OUT from the pack. It’s so that you can win more work, but also so that you and your colleagues are better Remembered, Referred and Recommended.